US Open: Brooks Koepka edges out Tommy Fleetwood to defend title

Last Updated June 18 2018, 08:45Golf
Brooks Koepka with the US Open trophy
Brooks Koepka with the US Open trophy

Brooks Koepka produced a tenacious final round to hold off Tommy Fleetwood and win back-to-back US Open titles.

Final leaderboard

+1 Brooks Koepka

+2 Tommy Fleetwood

+3 Dustin Johnson

+4 Patrick Reed

+5 Tony Finau

Final round report

Brooks Koepka produced a tenacious final round at Shinnecock Hills to hold off Tommy Fleetwood and win back-to-back US Open titles.

Fleetwood had posted a two-over target thanks to a stunning 63, matching the lowest round in the history of the event, but was left to rue missed opportunities at the final three holes as Koepka held firm thanks to a series of par saves on the back-nine, before a birdie at the 16th effectively sealed his defence.

Dustin Johnson birdied the final hole to finish third but alongside him, it was friend and compatriot Koepka who completed a deserved victory with a closing bogey for a round of 68 and a one-over total - a far cry from the 16-under score he registered a year earlier.

It was a first successful defence of the title since Curtis Strange won the 1988 and 1989 editions and further enhances Koepka's remarkable major record - this was his seventh top-15 finish in succession with his last missed cut back in 2013.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," said Koepka. "I don't think I could've dreamed of this - it's truly special, and I'm so honoured.

"To do it here, with the conditions we had, it was a tough test of golf. To win back-to-back is incredible."

Fleetwood missed a short birdie putt on the final hole and felt afterwards that he was just shy of the required total, and so it proved as Koepka took a two-shot lead to the final tee and sensibly allowed himself to make bogey after a poor second shot.

"As a golf fan, it was good watching (Koepka), how he handled himself down the stretch," said a magnanimous Fleetwood on Sky Sports.

"You have nothing but respect for him and I enjoyed watching how he did it.

"There was a score out there - just glad I was the one that shot it."

Tommy Fleetwood and caddie Ian Finnis
Tommy Fleetwood's Sunday charge came up just short

Koepka's victory owed much to a fine bogey at the par-three 11th, where he took three shots to find the green, and he followed it with further saves at the 12th, 13th and 14th holes to edge closer to the finish line.

Then, at the par-five 16th, his wedge approach came to rest inside three feet and made for the simplest of birdies, one which afforded him welcome breathing space heading to the final two holes.

There was a brief moment of hope for the pursuers when his second to the last headed towards the grandstand, but Koepka was able to pitch to the heart of the green and run his 12-foot par attempt down to the side of the hole before tapping in for a one-shot success.

It was clear early on Sunday that the USGA, maligned for their management of the course on Saturday, had opted for a more enticing set-up as Rickie Fowler followed a third-round 84 with a final-round 65.

Fleetwood though went deeper still, four birdies in a row from the 12th igniting a challenge which ended in his best ever major finish, one which might have been better yet but for chances which went begging at the final three holes.

Patrick Reed also made a charge, sharing the lead thanks to five birdies in his opening seven holes, but the Masters champion came unstuck with bogeys at the 11th and 12th holes.

Dustin Johnson meanwhile could not find the required putts, despite signing off with a birdie which sealed third place.

Johnson's title aspirations were seriously dented at the 11th, where he three-putted for bogey when seemingly certain to gain ground on Koepka, and while he got that shot back straight away he was never closer.

Koepka said on Saturday that nobody in the field was more confident and that was in evidence as he kept his nose in front before striking the killer blow three holes from the finish of a dramatic event.

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