US Open Champion: Brooks Koepka has become the first player to win back-to-back US Opens since Curtis Strange in 1989.
Brooks Koepka didn’t hand the trophy back for long.
The 28-year-old American became the seventh player in US Open history to successfully defend their US Open title, claiming his second major victory by one shot over England’s Tommy Fleetwood – who fired a record-tying 63 on the final day at Shinnecock Hills.
Koepka’s one-over 281 total was a very different victory from his 16-under-par winning score at Erin Hills in 2017, proving him to be a worthy two-time champion who triumphed on two contrasting tests of golf.
“Man, it feels good to hold that thing again,” Koepka said as he was handed the trophy.
“This is incredible. I don’t think I could have dreamed of this, going back to back.”
The conditions on the final day were far more favourable than the third-round set-up which landed the USGA with plenty of criticism, and Koepka took full advantage of the rewards given to good golf shots.
Koepka birdied three of his first five holes of the day to get back to level par for the tournament as playing partner Dustin Johnson failed to match his hot start, allowing the 2017 champion to put two shots distance between himself and the rest of the field.
He was quickly chased down by Masters Champion Patrick Reed, who was five-under through seven holes on his front nine to get back to one-over-par, where Koepka found himself after a dropped shot on the sixth.
After Fleetwood set the clubhouse target of two-over-par with a final-round 63, Reed bogeyed the ninth and Koepka birdied the 10th to once more extend the lead to two shots.
Back-to-back dropped shots for Reed all but finished his run at the contest, but he was not the only one who faltered at the 11th hole on Sunday. Koepka was staring a double-bogey in the face after pulling his tee shot left into trouble, but cooly holed his 13-foot bogey putt to stay one shot clear.
And it was on and around the greens that he truly won the tournament. He made testing putts on both the 12th and 14th holes to remain in the lead before sticking a wedge to four-feet on the par-five 16th to take a two-shot lead with two to play.
Standing in the middle of the 18th fairway with a two shot lead, Koepka momentarily looked to have had a lapse in concentration as he pulled his shot well left of the green, but it rebounded off the grandstand to give him a favourable lie.
He expertly navigated the next chip, and although his par-putt barely missed the cup, a bogey was more than enough to guarantee a one-shot victory over Tommy Fleetwood.
Dustin Johnson, who held a four shot lead after the second round and began the round tied for the lead with Koepka, Daniel Berger and Tony Finau, finished in solo third. The World No.1 had an off-day with the putter until the final hole, sinking a birdie putt on the 18th for an even-par 70 to end up one clear of Patrick Reed.
A final hole double-bogey left Finau in 5th, with Xander Schauffele tied for 6th with Henrik Stenson, Tyrrell Hatton and Daniel Berger, while a tough day for Justin Rose left him in a share of 10th with Webb Simpson on +7.