Brooks Koepka holds his nerve in major style to land the US Open title

Seven majors in a row have now been claimed by first-time champions, with the 117 th US Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin going to Brooks Koepka of the U

Major championships are now the domain of golfs one-time pretenders. Seven in a row have been claimed by first-time champions, with the conclusion to the 117 th US Open developing into a test of nerve for Brooks Koepka. The 27 -year-old from Florida became the most recent player to deliver on earlier and widely recognised promise.

Koepka like Jason Day, Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Jimmy Walker and Sergio Garca is a bridesmaid no more. Even fresh, testing Wisconsin conditions for day four and the weight of history could not halt Koepka as he brilliantly pieced together a 67. Three birdies in a row from the 14 th the hammer jolt to those in pursuit; the eventual margin of victory was four shots, at 16 under par, a record-equalling US Open tally. Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama shared second place.

Koepkas glory owes plenty to a bold career path. Rather than play through low grade tours in his native United States, he opted to move outside his convenience zone and to Europe. US PGA Tour status was earned as he progressed through the Challenge and European Tours, impressing seasoned observers on the way. Major wins, albeit never certain, appeared highly likely. This is a possibility just the start.

Of the players who fell short here perhaps Tommy Fleetwood has the most cause to be upbeat. The Englishman continues a tremendous 2017, with aspirations of success at next months Open Championship perfectly realistic. This was, after all, his first time in major arguing. Fleetwood finished fourth at 11 under.

Rickie Fowlers challenge stumbled on the back nine while Harman, who had hitherto fell merely two shoots in the whole tournament, was to run out of putting form when posting bogeys at the 12 th, 13 th and the last. Fowlers 72 meant a share of fifth.

Koepkas triumph had a foundation on the greens. A birdie putt from 41 ft at the 8th played a key part in reaching the turn in 33. By the time he took to the penultimate hole his leading was virtually unassailable. The award was a record $2.1 m.

Matsuyama came to grips with this ferocious battle, embarking on a stirring chase from merely inside the top 20. The man seeking to become Japans first ever major champ posted a 66 for his 12 -under total; Matsuyamas tilt at the top comes with the context of starting this tournament with a 74. At that point he was 82 nd.

Matsuyama will rue one shot. His drive at the tricky 15 th was pulled horribly into dense rough, from where he could only chip out sideways. The bogey which ensued demonstrated damaging, though he should have the succour of a rise to No2 in the world rankings on Monday morning. Matsuyama played the closing three pits in two under par despite being aware that one more time ruling would result in him being penalised a stroke.

Justin Thomas encountered issues associated with backing up a record-breaking performance. Thomas entered folklore on Saturday with the 63 which represented the lowest rating to par in US Open history. Within five holes of his final round, the 26 -year-old was three over par. This back-pedalling unavoidably left him with too much to do as others on the leaderboard collected early shootings. So continues an ominous tendency in Thomass career; when things start to go wrong, he is not particularly adept at stemming the flow. Thomass 75 left him tied ninth.

Given the list of illustrious names who could not survive past 36 pits here, special credit is due to Scottie Scheffler. The 20 -year-old from Dallas finished as the leading amateur on the highly respectable 72 -hole aggregate of minus one.

As Scheffler continues his career, confidence clearly will not be a problem. I was trying to compete and see if I could win the golf tournament, he said. I think it would be pretty cool winning the US Open as an amateur and that was my goal coming in.

Lee Westwoods 76 perhaps impacted on post-round sentiment but the Englishman made it clear he would be in no hurry to return to Erin Hills. This wouldnt be my favourite US Open venue, he admitted. I opt when they play the traditional golf course. The two new ones they have played lately[ Chambers Bay and Erin Hills] arent as good as the older style courses like Shinnecock, Winged Foot, Oakmont and Congressional.

Jordan Spieth instead offered glowing praise towards the United States Golf Associations management of this major. The 2015 champ signed off with a 69 for a total of one over par before recognise inevitable pressure as felt by the USGA on account of US Open controversies of recent times.I was very, very impressed at the job the USGA did this week, told Spieth. I think they did a fantastic job.

Chambers Bay was tough with the greens and then last year had a tough Sunday. I thought that the USGA did a phenomenal undertaking this week of allowing the golf course to be what it is and play the way its supposed to play. Not trying to do anything to hold any kind of standard. Instead, create an environment where, if you play well, you are able to score and, if you dont, then it can go the other way.

There was no unfairness whatsoever. I thought the USGA did a fantastic undertaking coming back this year and I know that they really wanted to.

Its tough going to two new venues in three years that theyve never use before. Thats a difficult thing to do. I hate to say its amazing but I thought it was really well done.

Spieth was vague considering his schemes in advance of the Open Championship, raising the potential he might expend some of his competitive build-up time in Ireland or Scotland. When he last won a major, in June of 2015, golfs biggest events seemed a closed shop for the elite. Periods have swiftly changed.

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US Open: Thomas makes history before Harman shows Fleetwood how its done

Justin Thomas recorded the first nine-under-par round in US Open history as the American Brian Harman finished one shot ahead after the third round, with Tommy Fleetwood in a share of second

It took until this, the 117 th staging of the US Open, for a player to post a round of nine under par in this championship. Step forward Justin Thomas, who marched where even the greats of this sport failed by holing out from eight feet on Erin Hillss 18 th green for an eagle. Unprecedented accomplishment had been sealed politenes of a Thomas 63. Yet by close of play, he did not even lead the tournament.

Tommy Fleetwood threatened to set a record of his own, until a stumble at the very location where Thomas excelled. Fleetwood could have been only the second Englishman in 47 years to hold at least a share of the 54 -hole lead in a US Open but blundered with a chip then putted over the 18 th green when it seemed his hard work had been done. A dropped shot means Fleetwood, at 11 under, shares second with Thomas and Brooks Koepka.

As Fleetwood amazingly wobbled and Thomas took plaudits, Brian Harman demonstrated the importance of the quiet human. The world No50 heads the leaderboard at 12 under after a third round of 67. Harman has previous for this kind of thing; last month at the Wells Fargo Championship he avoided Dustin Johnson from winning a fourth tournament in a row.

Thomass 63 was remarkable devoted what might have been; he dropped shots on the 4th and 10 th, before passing up a relatively simple eagle chance on the 15 th. Not that he will care about that; Thomas has etched his name into golfing folklore, switching the narrative of a hitherto competitive but barely dramatic US Open in the process.

Thomas has become only the 29 th player to card 63 in a major; nobody has signed for lower. The 24 -year-old from Louisville joins Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf and Vijay Singh as doing precisely that in the US Open. The total to par decides Thomas apart. I told my caddie walking towards the 18 th green: Lets try to be a part of history, he said. It was plainly an awesome day. Id love to have another one of those.

Im not sure when its going to sink in or when Im going to realise what I did. I know one thing, if it happened tomorrow and the result is what I want it to be, then Id likely have a little different feeling. But Im just so excited to give myself a great chance to win this golf tournament.

Thomas rendered a 59 at the Sony Open in January. Bare statistics might tell another story but it is incredible to think that does not even register as his finest round of 2017. Thomas, in pursuit of his maiden major title, was inspired; the three-wood from 299 yards that set up that final putt an example of his mindset. Players with less fortitude would have played safe on the beastly par five, taking their opportunity of a birdie at best. Thomas, in garish pink trousers, demonstrated he can walk the walk.

Out of high-profile struggles has come opportunity. The failure of Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and others to survive for the weekend means the prospect of a first-time major winner here is strong. Only Louis Oosthuizen, Zach Johnson and Sergio Garca realistically have the prospect of another major win from here, with even that trios chances highly remote.

Those looking to end their major wait include Rickie Fowler, who is 10 under. Kim Si-woo, the recently crowned Players Champion, is at minus nine. Fleetwood is making a mock of the suggestion his best major chance of 2017 will come at Royal Birkdale, a short stroll from his Southport home.

Paul Caseys triple bogey seven at the 3rd proved a blow from which he could not regain; the Englishman came perilously close to missing his ball in thigh-high greenside rough. Casey strolled from the 18 th green at four under after posting 75.

Patrick Reeds story looked like being the most notable of the previous day Thomas, Harman and Fleetwood moved the needle. The Texans 65 propelled him from an earlier stance of 33 rd to the upper echelons of the leaderboard at eight under, thereby conjuring memories of the Ryder Cup brilliance that Reed has not consistently replicated in stroke play tournaments.

You always can take that flame from Ryder Cup and use it in other events, Reed said. But youre talking polar opposites. Youre talking one-on-one competition against 155 players. And because of that you can go out and play some great golf, but you have a bunch of guys out there that can play some good golf, as well.

Every time Ive been in majors so far, Ive put so much emphasis on them and tried so hard. This week Ive been working with my coach, simply standing here and thinking: All right, lets used to go and try to make a good golf swing and to continue efforts to make a good putt. And at the end of the day add them up and see how you do. It seems to be working pretty well.

This was Reeds day before Thomas raised the bar, Fleetwood refused to be intimidated aside from one aberration on his final pit and Harman flew under the radar.

A major regularly criticised for brutality was dangerously close to providing gripping amusement. For more of the same can be ones merely hope, greedy though that is.

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Rory McIlroy sees grounds for optimism despite early US Open exit

Rory McIlroy bowed out of the US Open after his second-round 71 but remained upbeat that the run of competitive golf now ahead of him will resurrect his form and fortunes

If Rory McIlroy was a racehorse, there would have been no logic at all in ranking him among the favourites for an event of equivalent implication to the US Open. As golfs version of a performer who is lightly raced, McIlroy arrived at Erin Hills having played merely 22 competitive rounds in 2017.

That figure increased by merely two, McIlroys second-round 71 in the second major of 2017 proving insufficient to improve the damage caused by an opening round of 78. McIlroy at least departed in reasonable spirits, his run of four birdies in six closing pits providing a glance back towards what the four-time major champ is capable of.

In practice I was really good, McIlroy told. You play 54 pits around here before the tournament; I felt really comfortable. I drove the ball well, my irons were good. Everything was in good shape. But “youve never” truly know until you put a card in your hand and youre under the firearm a little bit.

Rickie Fowler encountered pressure of his own, the first-round leader having arrived at the 11 th on Friday without having fallen a shot in the tournament. Fowler promptly bogeyed three pits in a row. At six under, “hes one” from the halfway lead as held by four players. Two of that group, Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood, are English; Brooks Koepka and Brian Harman complete the quartet. Caseys prominence is remarkable given the eight he posted at the 14 th in round two.

The investigative skills of Quincy are hardly necessary when determining why McIlroy missed a second US Open cut in succession. This tournament has not been altogether kind to McIlroy aside from the 2011 occasion where reference is won it, let alone when the buildup was disturbed by fitness troubles. The rib problem that upset his opening to the year offer perfect explanation for the appearance of rust at Erin Hills. The equipment switching that was triggered by Nikes withdrawal from the market also inevitably adds an element of upheaval that McIlroy would ideally have done without. These matters are all intrinsically connected; merely by featuring at the business objective of events can McIlroy perfectly attune himself to what new tools he has at his disposal, just as history proves he benefits from the confidence acquired from the very same scenarios. McIlroy enjoys the momentum he has thus far been denied for reasons beyond his control.

Ive been very light on competitive rounds, McIlroy said. I suppose at this point in time I just need to play. And I feel, even though its very disappointing to not is right there on the weekend, these last two rounds will serve me well going into the summer. Yesterday, coming off an injury, I was a little anxious going out there. I got off to a good start but it sort of caught up with me as the round went on. I think the more rounds I can play, Im hopefully going to get rid of all that stuff and hopefully strip it down to what you comprehend the last six holes.

Here is another reason for McIlroy cheer; no other player among the worlds leading group has recently embarked on a profitable running. The 28 -year-old is barely lagging behind in a wider context.

The next part of the season is key for him. Next weeks Traveller Championship begins a stretch of six events in eight weeks, including two major championships and one, the US PGA Championship, at the Quail Hollow venue he has previous for pulling apart. Should success arrive within this period, the frustrations of the first part of 2017 will be readily forgotten. Even when the major season concludes, McIlroy will not lack focus in respect of defending the FedEx Cup.

Im just excited to get a operate of golf now, he added. Im optimistic with where my game is. Hopefully Ive got a lot of the bad stuff out of my system yesterday and some parts today. And again, its merely a matter of get competitive rounds under my belt. Im playing next week in Connecticut. Ive got a nice run leading up to the Open Championship. Ive got a busy summertime, so Im excited to play a lot of golf. I feel like thats going to help me to get back into contention and try to win some of these things. Im hungry but Im not going to force it. Im going to let it happen. Im going to play. The worst thing I can do is go and force-out it because thats not my game.

The key McIlroy problem on Friday was on the greens, to move to inevitable commentary considering his switch to a new putter in recent days. I didnt think it was the putter.It was the guy on the end of it, he said. Jason Day also failed to survive for the closing 36 holes. Yet there was contrasting sentiment from the Australian. Day was bemused by an aggregate of 10 over par. I felt the most calm I have in a major in a long time this week, told Day after his 75. Regrettably this didnt pan off. The golf course is beautiful. I just didnt execute.

Late on Friday, the world No1 Dustin Johnson completed a high-profile exodus from Wisconsin. Johnson added a 73 to his Thursday 75, thereby missing the cut by three. Only three months ago, an imperious Johnson appeared unbeatable. He had now been missed the Masters through a freak accident and, via different circumstances , now been forced to watch another major weekend on television. I couldnt have shot any higher, Johnson said. I couldnt perhaps shoot any higher than I did. I simply fought on the greens. Its simple.

As McIlroy, Johnson and Day exited, Casey maintained his dream of a first major win alive. Its not every day you are able to enjoy a round with an eight on the card but Im a happy man, Casey said. Casey has recorded three consecutive top-six finishes in the Masters but has only one top-1 0 in the US Open in 13 tries, which went a decade ago at Oakmont.

It feelings good, the 39 -year-old told. It shows what can happen if you get out of posture on this course. Even just trying to take my medicine is very difficult. Its a good eight in the end.

Australias Adam Scott also failed to progress to the weekend.

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