Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Koepka Clings on for Glory after Fleetwood's Charge

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Koepka Clings on for Glory after Fleetwood's Charge

Article excerpt

Byline: GOLF John Huggan at Shinnecock Hills

ALMOST three decades on from Curtis Strange's successful defence in 1989, the US Open again has a back-to-back champion. With a closing round of 68, two-under par over the much-criticised Shinnecock Hills layout on Long Island, Brooks Koepka retained the title he won at Erin Hills 12 months ago.

The 28-year old Floridian -- a certainty to be part of the American Ryder Cup squad this September -- finished on 281, one-over par for the 72 holes and one shot clear of runner-up Tommy Fleetwood. For his trouble, Koepka picked up $2.16m (PS1.63m).

Four times a winner on the European Challenge Tour in 2012 and 2013, Koepka also finished first in the 2014 Turkish Airlines Open after earning promotion to the European Tour. He has often paid tribute to the valuable experience he picked up during those formative years. It was, however, his putting during the final round that proved to be the most potent catalyst to the 28-year old's third PGA Tour victory in the land of his birth. Time after time he holed out from between 10 and 15ft for pars and birdies. And, on one crucial occasion, for a bogey.

After badly pulling his approach well left of the green at the par-three 11th, Koepka chipped all the way over the putting surface and into a bunker. From there, his attempted recovery came up 15ft short. But in the putt went.

"After that big a mistake, I just wanted to get away with a bogey," said the champion, his voice reflecting the relief he clearly felt. "I could have been easily derailed if I had made a double or triplebogey. I watched guys hit that putt on television in the morning. I saw three leave it short, so I told myself to give it a little extra."

Six holes later, he arrived on the 18th tee needing only a bogey five to beat Fleetwood. Just as well. A bogey is what he got, courtesy of another pulled approach shot that struck the grandstand yards left of the green. Three shots later, though, a controversial week, in which the presentation of the course was often the biggest story, was over. …

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