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U.S. Open final-round timeline: How clinical Koepka kept his crown

18 Juni 2018 01:16

Brooks Koepka became the first man in 29 years to retain the U.S Open on Sunday, holding his nerve superbly to ensure one of the great major championship rounds from Tommy Fleetwood proved in vain.

Fleetwood began Sunday six shots off the lead, but carded an outstanding seven-under 63 - equalling the lowest score in the tournament's history - to set a demanding clubhouse target.

However, Koepka, who led by one but still had more than half his round to play when Fleetwood finished his day's work, managed to stay clear at the summit, thanks largely to some terrific work around the greens on the back nine.

Omnisport takes a look at how an absorbing final day unfolded.

 

Reed makes his move

After starting the day three off the pace set by Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger and Tony Finau, Masters champion Patrick Reed wasted no time in racing to the top of the leaderboard - birdieing each of the first three holes to make it a five-way tie for the lead at three over.

Koepka kicks on as Reed and Fleetwood fly

Koepka responded superbly to Reed's charge, picking up three shots in five holes to reach level par for the tournament.

However, as the likes of Berger, Finau and Justin Rose struggled, Reed continued to surge, finding further birdies at the fifth and seventh to trail Koepka by just one.

Fleetwood, meanwhile, was putting together a magnificent round - birdieing four holes in succession from the 12th to reach seven under for the day and two over for the tournament. As a result, the Englishman was tied for third with Johnson.

 

Fabulous Fleetwood reaches clubhouse one back and almost makes history

After Koepka had slipped back to one over, giving Reed a share of the lead once more, Fleetwood came agonisingly close to an unprecedented achievement.

Had the Englishman converted an eight-footer on 18, he would have recorded the first 62 in U.S. Open history and only the second in a major championship. His birdie putt missed narrowly to the right, but Fleetwood still signed for a wonderful 63 and claimed a clubhouse lead at two over that looked tough to beat with Shinnecock Hills firming up under the afternoon sun.

At this stage, Koepka, Reed and Johnson looked to be the only other contenders, with no one else better than five over.

 

Reed falls away, Koepka hangs on, Finau charges

Three bogeys sent Reed back to four over, while Koepka birdied the 10th but then had to pull off amazing up-and-downs on 11 and 12 to retain sole possession of the lead.

After finding sand with his second shot at the par-three 11th, Koepka splashed out to around 12 feet and rolled in a clutch putt to ensure he only dropped one shot. He then missed fairway and green on the 12th, only to save par superbly.

At one over, Koepka was the only man ahead of Fleetwood, with Johnson also bogeying 11 to slip two off the pace. Finau, meanwhile, was alongside Johnson at three over after a trio of birdies in the space of four holes around the turn.

 

Clinical Koepka keeps on scrambling

Koepka's scrambling skills came to the fore once again at the 14th, as he rescued another par despite not being able to reach the green in two following a wayward drive.

Johnson and Finau each dropped shots, only to soon get back to three over, while Reed briefly returned to the same score but could not pull off a miraculous finish.

 

Fleetwood hopes finally ended as Brooks completes rare retention

After working so hard to remain one clear of Fleetwood, Koepka made a decisive move at the par-five 16th. A stunning wedge set up a birdie and gave the American a two-stroke cushion.

Koepka comfortably parred the penultimate hole, meaning he could afford an abysmal approach on 18 that got a fortuitous bounce off a grandstand to the left of the green.

He was unable to get up and down once again, but a bogey and one-over aggregate total ensured Koepka became the first back-to-back champion since Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989.

Fleetwood was one back in second, with Johnson (+3), Reed (+4) and Finau, who double-bogeyed the last to finish four off the pace, rounding out the top five.

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