• Brooks Koepka shot a two-under 68 in the final round at Shinnecock to finish one over par and win his second straight U.S. Open title. Tommy Fleetwood, who shot a U.S. Open record-tying 63 on Sunday, finished one shot back.
By Daniel Rapaport
June 17, 2018

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Brooks Koepka became just the third man since World War II and seventh in history to win back-to-back U.S. Opens by shooting a two-under 68 to win by one at Shinnecock Hills. 

Koepka's one-over total was good enough for a one-shot victory over Tommy Fleetwood, who shot a U.S. Open record-tying 63 on a golf course that played significantly easier than it did on Saturday. 

"Man, it feels good to hold this thing again," Koepka said with his arms wrapped around the trophy.

The only players other than Koepka to win this national championship in consecutive years are Willie Anderson (thee straight, 1903-05), John McDermott (1911-12), Bobby Jones (1929-30), Ralph Gudahl (1937-38), Ben Hogan (1950-51) and Curtis Strange (1988-89). 

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who appeared to be in control of this tournament after Friday and took a four-shot lead into the third round, finished in third at three over. Johnson, who putted so beautifully over the first two rounds, missed a number of short putts that doomed his bid for a second U.S. Open title (he won at Oakmont in 2016). He did make a 13-footer for birdie at 18 to secure his fourth top-three finish in a major championship.

While Johnson kept missing the kind of putts you need to make to win a U.S. Open, Koepka put forth a gutsy performance on Shinnecock's Poa annua putting surfaces. The Florida State product, who took the lead with birdies on 2 and 3 and never relinquished it, rattled in a key 13-footer for bogey on the par-3 11th after he pull-hooked his approach long and left of the green, leaving himself an impossible pitch. He took his medicine and played into a bunker across the green, then got up and down to limit the damage and maintain a one-shot lead. 

"I think that was like making a birdie, maybe even making an eagle," Koepka said of the bogey save. "Because it could have been a big momentum shift there, and we could have been playing tennis just going back and forth. To make bogey there was pretty incredible and I think kind of the reason why we won."

He got up and down for par at 12 then again on 14, and it was clear at that point that this was his championship to lose.

The shot that clinched it came at the par-5 16th, where he stuffed a wedge to within four feet then converted a birdie to go up by two. He then found the middle of the par-3 17th green and made a routine par, meaning he'd head to 18 with a two-stroke advantage. 

After finding the middle of the fairway with his tee ball, Koepka did his best to make it nerve-racking by hitting a poor approach shot, a high hook that bounded off the grandstand. That bounce was a fortuitous one, as his ball got past a bunker and settled in a relatively benign position. From there, Koepka hit a no-nonsense chip to the center of the green, cozied his par putt to within two feet and tapped in for the one-shot victory. 

Prior to this week, Koepka had played in just four events since returning from a 15-week absence due to a wrist injury. 

Masters champion Patrick Reed made an early charge on Sunday by birdieing four of his first five holes and briefly held a piece of the lead, but he played the last 10 holes in three over to shoot 68 and finish in fourth at four over. 

Tony Finau, who played alongside Daniel Berger in the final pairing of the day, finished fifth after making a sloppy double bogey on 18. The 28-year-old American shot 72 and picked up his best-ever finish in a major championship. 

Fleetwood, a 27-year-old Englishman with a distinctly un-country club long-hair-shaggy-beard look, will rue his miss on the 18th hole. Needing a birdie to join Branden Grace as the only players to shoot 62 in a major championship, Fleetwood stuck his second shot to within nine feet. His effort to post one over was right the entire way, and that pissed proved decisive. 

“I just always felt like I was one shy," Fleetwood said. "And then Brooks kept giving me, like, that little bit of hope, and then (would) hole in a putt, just to stab you in the stomach a little bit.”

Finishing well before the leaders teed off, Phil Mickelson shot 69 a day after his decision to putt a moving ball sparked a massive controversy in the world of golf. Mickelson, who was assessed a two-stroke penalty but was not disqualified for the violation, did not speak to reporters after his round. 

And in a testament to how fickle the game of golf can be, Rickie Fowler improved on yesterday's 84 by a full 19 shots, as he closed with a superb 65. Massachusetts fireman Matt Parziale and Costa Rica's Luis Gagne shared low amateur honors at 16 over. 

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