Dustin Johnson had a four-stroke lead after 36 holes and was still in striking distance heading onto the back nine in the final round of the U.S. Open.
Brooks Koepka, the fourth-ranked P.G.A.pro in the world, who looks more like a linebacker than a golfer, won the U.S. Open at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton Sunday afternoon, becoming only the seventh in history to win back-to-back Opens, the last being Curtis Strange, who walked the course with Koepka, in 1988 and '89.
"Unfortunately, I haven't done it as much in regular tour events or throughout my career", Koepka said. "I mean, we all know that". The world No. 9 from Florida is plainly back to his best after he broke down with a wrist injury that ruined his 2017 beyond his victory in the US Open at Erin Hills.
Koepka won with birdies on spacious Erin Hills a year ago.
"The golf course transformed today from hole 1 to hole 18", said Jim Furyk, another former Open victor.
Dustin Johnson, part of the four-way tie for the lead to start the final round, couldn't keep up with one of his best friends. The moves came after an uproar among players, who felt the course was unfair. "I never really got massively excited". "Hell, I came close, and he'd beat me like a yard dog".
"I enjoy being pushed to the limit", he said.
Fleetwood is the fifth player to shoot 63 in the final round of a major and not win. I'm fighting that a little bit.
So when Mickelson finds it more advantageous to take a two stroke penalty than to "play it as it lies", instead of questioning his respect for the tournament, golf commentators should question the USGA's respect for the players who make its tournament worth watching.
Brooks Koepka kisses the Golf Champion Trophy after winning the U.S. Open.
"But that's the way it's supposed to be", he said. I think the fans like that, too.
But that's pretty much to be expected when they believe - wrongly, perhaps - that their mission is not only to protect the game but to vigorously guard against low scores in the national championship.
Koepka closed with a two-under-par 68 to top the leaderboard at one over and deny Fleetwood a first major title. No one had taken a four-stroke lead into the weekend and failed to win since Tom McNamara suffered a heat stroke on the 68th hole in 1909. A missed short par putt at 18 officially ended his hope of the major double.
On the final green, Fleetwood stood over a 9ft putt with the chance to seal the magic number of 62 that would obviously have carried wider significance with a major on the line.
A superb approach to the 18th left Fleetwood with eight feet to shoot 62, but the putt slid across the face of the hole. It's hard to look at just one shot but I have beaten everybody but one player in one of the biggest events in the world. Johnson did not speak to reporters after the round was over. Two holes later, after another drive into grass so thick he wasn't sure he could get it out, Koepka rolled in an 8-foot for another par save. But like I said, four days in a row, it doesn't add up to what these 20-under weeks got up to.