US Open champ Koepka content to keep low profile

Annette Crawford
June 21, 2018

But Johnson shot 77 in the third round, with a bogey on the final hole to surrender sole possession of the lead.

At the last U.S. Open here, Shinnecock Hills gained notoriety for slick greens that had to be watered between groups.

Rounding out the Australian contingent is four-time US Tour victor Aaron Baddeley, who had a day to forget with a 77 sinking him to 13 over.

With Curtis Strange, the last player to win consecutive Opens in 1988 and 1989, following him as the Fox Sports reporter for his group, Koepka stayed steady amid the back-nine pressure and closed with a 2-under-par 68 for a final score of 1-over 281. Of course Koepka won at Erin; he blasts the thing.

That lead to heavy criticism from many players, who thought the combination of tough pin placements and super dry greens had made life too hard for them - a repeat of criticisms levelled at the association the last time the US Open was held at Shinnecock in 2004.

"Nobody enjoys that", said Russell Knox, who shot 75, two shots better than Dustin Johnson, who blew a four-shot lead to fall into a four-way tie at the top. It was set up for a lot of guys that bomb the ball. "It was go out, play some solid golf, try to post a number and see if you can get the job done".

Johnson was in the mix most of the day Sunday, amid a tightly bunched leaderboard, but succumbed to three bogeys on the back nine as Koepka held on for history.

He recovered with three fantastic rounds, however, and the putts the he holed down the stretch on the final day to retain his title by two shots showed great courage.

Probably not, and that's OK. There was a discussion on the fifth green on whether Johnson caused his ball to move a fraction of an inch. He finished his round as Koepka was finishing up the par-3 seventh. Or he might not. He never missed a putt from inside five feet all week, 44-from-44 overall, and he put the hammer down with a gorgeous wedge shot to a metre for a birdie at the 16th hole, where he grew his lead to two shots. He didn't lose his head in the most punishing third round of a U.S. Open in almost two decades. But Mickelson should have been disqualified under a catch-all rule that allows the tournament committee to send someone packing for a serious breach of the rules.

The 48-year-old, who has a record six runner-up finishes at the US Open, was assessed a two-stroke penalty by organiser the USGA and given a 10 for the hole.

Koepka is now 2-under par on the day.

If not for Mickelson making a spectacle of himself and the moment, odds are it would be forgotten sooner. He joins Jodie Mudd in the 1991 British Open and Li Haotong in the 2017 British Open, both at Royal Birkdale; Payne Stewart at the 1993 British Open at Royal St. George; and Brad Faxon at the 1995 PGA Championship at Riviera.

"He's going to win another one", Koepka said.

"I knew if you hit the fairway and hit the green you were going to have some good looks".

He also predicted that Davis, if he were to follow the U.S. Open philosophy, would made mistakes at some point.

There are no signs of the US slowing down.

The USGA doesn't always get it wrong.

England's 12th-ranked Fleetwood seized the opportunity to match the lowest round ever in the US Open with a brilliant seven-under 63 for a two-over total of 282.

Fleetwood played with Koepka in the final group past year at Erin Hills. Woods and Mickelson are among 19 players who played in the last U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. That doesn't happen at the other majors.

"Unfortunately, they've lost the golf course...." It's about the player, not the organization. Koepka's win was preceded by his win past year at Erin Hills, Jordan Spieth's The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, Justin Thomas' PGA Championship victory at Quail Hollow, and Patrick Reed's lap around Augusta National earlier this season to take the 2018 Masters.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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