April 23, 2019
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Koepka rides birdie spree to U.S. Open title

ERIN, Wisconsin — Brooks Koepka strung together three consecutive late birdies and shot a 5-under-par 67 in the final round of the U.S. Open to capture his first major championship on Sunday at Erin Hills.

Koepka, who entered Sunday in a three-way tie and a shot behind 54-hole leader Brian Harman, used the pivotal stretch to pull away and finish the championship at 16-under 272. The 27-year-old American was four strokes better than Harman, who shot even par on Sunday, and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who shot 6 under Sunday to finish the championships at 12 under along with Harman.

After hitting a short par putt on 18, Koepka — playing a group ahead of Harman — pumped his fist twice in celebration. Tommy Fleetwood of England finished fourth at 277.

Koepka moved to 14-under with a birdie at the par-5 14th hole. After his second shot found the bunker, Koepka made an impressive shot to set up a short birdie putt to provide him with a two-stroke lead. He followed with birdies at 15 and 16 to suddenly widen his gap to four shots and close in on the Open championship.

Koepka carried a one-stroke lead into the back nine after a birdie at No. 8, but quickly fell back into a tie with Harman. Koepka bogeyed the par-4 10th hole, marking the first time he registered a bogey on the back nine during the tournament.

Like Koepka, Harman hadn’t bogeyed a hole on the back nine until Sunday. Tied with Koepka at 13 under, Harman missed his par putt at the par-4 12th to fall a shot off the lead. Harman bogeyed his second straight hole at 13 to fall two shots behind Koepka. Harman finished with a bogey on 18.

Justin Thomas, who shot a 9-under 63 on Saturday — a record in relation to par — to reach Sunday’s final pairing while in a second-place tie with Koepka and Fleetwood, struggled in the final round with a 3-over 75 and tied for ninth at 280.

NOTES: Scottie Scheffler, who plays collegiately for the University of Texas, was the top amateur finisher at 287 for the tournament with a Sunday round of 73. Scheffler finished ahead of Texas A&M’s Cameron Champ, who entered Sunday’s final round with a two-shot lead over Scheffler, shot a 4-over 76 to finish at 288. … The 54-hole leader, Brian Harman, entered Sunday’s final round attempting to become the first left-handed player to win the U.S. Open. Only four left-handers — Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Mike Weir and Bob Charles — have won major championships. … Jordan Spieth, who shot his lowest round (69) of the championships on the tournament’s windiest day, said he wouldn’t mind seeing the event return to Erin Hills. “I think it’s an awesome golf course. I think that’s been the consensus from everyone,” Spieth said Sunday. “There are so many (courses) to choose from, (but) I’m sure at some point, it will come back here.”


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