Brooks Koepka wins back-to-back U.S. Open titles

SOUTHAMPTON, NY - JUNE 17: Brooks Koepka of the United States celebrates with the U.S. Open Championship trophy during the trophy presentation after winning the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on June 17, 2018 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images) Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Brooks Koepka wins back-to-back U.S. Open titles

PGA Tour

Brooks Koepka wins back-to-back U.S. Open titles

Here is a recap of Sunday’s final round at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.:

WINNER: Brooks Koepka is your back-to-back U.S. Open champion.

We haven’t had one of those since Curtis Strange won in 1988 and ’89, but the nearly 30-year drought in that department is over.

Koepka, 28, was unflappable Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, birdieing three of his first five holes and seemingly cruising in a closing 2-under 68. That gave Koepka a 1-over 281 and a one-shot victory.

He began the day tied for the lead at 3 over with Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau and Daniel Berger but quickly moved out in front by two with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 2 and 3. That birdie at the fifth moved him to Even par and kept him two ahead.

He would bogey the sixth to fall into a tie for the lead with Patrick Reed, but Reed would bogey No. 9 and Koepka would birdie the 10th to push his lead back to two.

The remainder of his round, his greatest competitor arose from the clubhouse.

Tommy Fleetwood fired a 7-under 63 early to get in at 2 over and threaten to come from six shots back. Koepka put himself in a spot of bother by going over the green at the par-3 11th, and he needed a 13-footer just to save bogey and stay in the solo lead at 1 over.

He drained it.

Koepka would then make a 6-footer at No. 12 and a 9-footer at No. 14 for pars to remain ahead. He stuffed a wedge to 4 feet at the par-5 16th and then drained the putt for birdie to take a two-shot lead with two to play.

He made things interesting when he hooked his second shot well left of the green at the par-4 18th, but he made a simply bogey from there. Finau, at 3 over, needed to hole out for eagle from behind at the last to force a playoff.

He hit his tee shot in the fescue and hacked out from there into the fairway. At that point, Koepka had officially won.

Koepka is obviously a great young talent but had struggled since his U.S. Open title at Erin Hills, with injuries besetting him. He took a 15-week hiatus earlier this year due to a serious left wrist issue.

Since his return in late April, he’s come on strong with a win, a runner-up and a T-11 in three of his six starts.

Koepka wasn’t in contention from the start this week. He opened in 5-over 75 (putting him six back) in difficult conditions and was 7 over for the tournament and potentially fighting the cut through 25 holes. But then he birdied six of his next 10 holes to rocket to 1 over and a second-round 66.

He was five back to start Saturday, but a gutsy 72 on a brutal day saw him rise into the co-lead. And then his stellar performance on Sunday.

What a week for Brooks. He can now say he’s a back-to-back U.S. Open champion.

JUST MISSED: Fleetwood put up a valiant effort with that 63. More on that here. He had a look inside 10 feet for birdie and a new U.S. Open record low 62, but his putt missed low and right. As it turned out, Fleetwood would’ve gotten in at 1-over 281 if he made that putt. He had decent looks at birdie his final three holes but missed all three. What could’ve been. Finau double bogeyed his final hole to finish in solo fifth at 5 over.

SHOT OF THE DAY: Koepka put his foot down and basically sealed the title with this approach leading to birdie at 16.

SHORT SHOTS: Dustin Johnson can’t muster much of a final round. He closes in 70 to finish in solo third at 3 over. … Reed birdied five of his first seven holes Sunday to move from three back to a share of the lead. But he fades from there and finishes solo fourth at 4 over after a 68. … Justin Rose ties for 10th at 7 over. … Rickie Fowler follows a third-round 84 with a closing 65 to rocket to a tie for 20th at 11 over. … Dylan Meyer closes in 74 to finish at 11 over. The former Illini star ties for 20th in his pro debut. … Justin Thomas finishes in a tie for 25th at 12 over. … Phil Mickelson rebounded nicely from his dramatic Saturday. He closes in 1-under 69, including a humorous moment at No. 13, to finish T-48 at 16 over. It’s a nice 77-69-81-69 for Mickelson this week. … Low amateur honors are shared by Matt Parziale, the Massachusetts firefighter, and Luis Gagne at 16 over.

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