Gary Woodland Denies History Chasing Koepka to Win US Open
IT ALL began with such promise for Justin Rose but it all went horribly wrong for the Englishman and he finished six shots behind Gary Woodland, who won the US Open at Pebble Beach with a 13-under-par total of 271.
Rose began the tournament with a 65 and was there or thereabouts all week, but it was largely down to some world-class scrambling and the fact that he didn’t have his A-game with finally caught up with him when the chips were really down. In the end, Woodland’s nearest challenger was Brooks Koepka, who was looking to win the tournament for the third year on the bounce. As Rose stumbled to a 74, Koepka threw down the gauntlet but eventually came up three shots short.
Woodland had a 69, and it was easily good enough. "It was special. I never thought the tournament was over," said Woodland.
Rose took a share of the lead with a birdie on the first hole but it proved to be a false dawn. The 38-year-old world number four, aiming to win the second major of his career after his 2013 US Open success, carded five bogeys as he finished tied for third with Spain's Jon Rahm and Americans Xander Schauffele and Chez Reavie.
Rory McIlroy endured a turbulent final day that included double bogeys at the second and 16th, but finished with a birdie to climb inside the top 10 at five under. Englishmen Matt Wallace, Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick all ended a further stroke back.
Tiger Woods began the day 11 shots off the pace and quickly slipped further down the leaderboard with four bogeys in his first six holes.
However, the Masters champion gave the crowd something to cheer about as he carded six birdies, shot a 69 and finished the week on two under par at the course where, in 2000, he won the US Open by 15 shots. "I was able to get it under par for the week," said the 15-time major champion. "Normally that's a good thing at a US Open, but these guys are really taking it to the golf course."
When Rose joined Woodland at the top of the leaderboard after the first hole it looked like we were in for a thrilling duel, but the big move came from Koepka, who birdied four of his first five holes to move to 11 under par. Rose dropped a shot at the second as Woodland birdied the same hole, and then added another at the third. Where Koepka and Rose both dropped a shot at the eighth hole, Woodland led by three.
He found the rough with a loose tee shot at the ninth and was forced to lay up before falling back to 12 under.
Woodland and Rose then both bogeyed the 12th, and Rose’s challenge effectively came to an end when he let another one go at the 13th. As they entered the final stretch, Woodland led Koepka by a single stroke. Koepka, needing birdies, hit a series of loose shots and had to scramble to save par. Woodland, meanwhile, holed a short birdie putt at the par-five 14th to extend his lead to two.
Koepka, who won his fourth major at last month's US PGA Championship and was runner-up to Woods at The Masters, was unable to find the birdies he needed, carding a to become the first player to record four rounds in the 60s and not win the US Open.
"It was some of the best ball striking I've had,” he said. "Unfortunately I wasn't making the putts but Gary did and congratulations to him. That was a cool way to see him finish it off, and go out in style like that. I thought we had a game pretty early on. I closed the gap and you never know what's going to happen down the stretch. I just tried to keep the pedal down and make some putts but I didn't hole enough.
"I'm very pleased with how I played. I played my heart out. It just wasn't good enough this week."
Woodland, whose previous best finish at a major was tied sixth at last year's US PGA Championship, finished it off in style by holing a 30-foot birdie putt at the last.
"I never looked too far ahead," he said. "Once the putt on 18 went in, I let it come out of me. It was special to finish it off here at Pebble Beach."
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