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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Rickie Fowler equals US Open record to put himself in hunt for first major

Rickie Fowler was the early leader at Erin Hills after firing a first-round 65 that only four players have ever bettered on a US Open Thursday

What Erin Hills devoted to Rickie Fowler it menacingly took back and some from his illustrious chums. Anyone labouring under the illusion that the US Open, an environment famed for brutality, was going soft after Fowler charged to the top of the leaderboard with a 65 was swiftly corrected. Day one casualties were of the highest profile.

Dustin Johnson, 75. Jordan Spieth, 73. Jason Day, 79. Rory McIlroy, 78. Hideki Matsuyama, 74. The worlds top five ranked golfers were all unable to break par, with their aggregate rating on Thursday of the 117 th US Open a staggering 19 over. The prospect of a blue chip exodus from this major by Friday evening is live.

McIlroy at least has a decent excuse, this marking simply his second competitive start since the Masters because of the rib trauma which has disrupted his season. The Northern Irishman was always likely to be punished here for rustiness and duly was, spending too much hour wading through thigh-high rough than would be healthy for anyone.

I didnt hit a fairway after the 10 th, McIlroy said. You cannot play this golf course if you are not in position off the tee. I paid the price for that today.

I feel fine, I was hacking around in the rough and didnt feel the injury one bit. My timing was just a little bit off.

If McIlroys stumble was a slow burner he was level par after 10 Day determined himself seven over after 11 pits having carded two triple bogeys in the same round for the first time in his PGA Tour career. This marked his worst ever US Open score.

I only played bad golf, said Day. I cant put it any other way. Some good stuff was mixed in with an awful plenty of poor stuff.

This was the creation of history Fowler was perfectly happy to accept but instantly of a mind to look beyond. Merely four players had already been produced a lower US Open first round than the 65 Fowler signed for here. This matched the all-time rating under par, seven, for a US Open Thursday. Not a bad start, in other words.

The 28 -year-old has wider aspirations, however. Fowler is seeking to end a career wait for a major which undermines his status as one of this sports marquee players.

Its always cool to be part of some kind of history in golf, said Fowler. But Id rather be remembered for something thats done on a Sunday.

There are a lot of really good players out here that havent won a major. So it would be nice to get rid of that at some point. Im not saying that this is the week or isnt the week but I like the style this golf course suits me.

Whilst Fowlers ability isnt in doubt, the shock was that he determines himself in such prominence at the second major of the year. The US Open hasnt been kind to the Californian, who has missed cuts in this event four times, including each of the past two years. Fowlers aggregate score in the five US Open rounds before this was 27 over par.

Just dont mention to Fowler that his start was blissfully easy. You dont get many rounds at the US Open that are stress-free, he told. I only did a good job. I knew I needed to drive it well; from there I was able to hit good shoots and roll a couple of putts in. So, it was a simple day when you look back on it, and how we kind of pieced our style around the golf course, but it is a lot easier said than done.

The first thing is get off to a good start Thursday, keeping that rolling and get ourselves in contention Sunday. Theres a lot of golf to be played but Im ready to be out there contending.

Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood and Brian Harman all carded 67 s. They were later upstaged by Paul Casey and the little-known Xander Schauffele, who marched into second place thanks to 66 s. Schauffele began this week as the world No352.

Lee Westwoods 69 was highly credible. Andrew Beef Johnston matched Westwoods Thursday tally; how others would have gleefully traded places.

I hit the ball phenomenally well, insisted Spieth. I simply didnt make anything on the greens. I missed one fairway today, which is maybe the best driving round Ive had in my life.

I had 15 looks at birdie, all of them makable, and holed one of them. It was just a really off day putting-wise but Ill figure it out. I cant change anything about my approach; if I get that many appears , usually I would shoot eight under par.

Johnson, who partnered Spieth, pointed towards similar putting woes. Fleetwood, conversely, enjoyed a terrific day on the greens in hand as he signed for his 67. His stunning 2017 proves no sign of slowing in pace.

The thing I told myself was not to do anything stupid and ruin it, simply to play sensible golf and ensure what came along, said the Englishman. I started at the 10 th and that was a perfect instance of the approach I took. I aimed 15 ft from the flag, hit the spot I wanted, and made a nice putt for birdie.

That sort of defined the tone for the round. The course was gettable, but only if you ran about it the right way. There were enough high ratings out there to prove that point.

Ideal Wisconsin conditions ensured confirmation that Phil Mickelson wouldnt participate arrived by mid-morning. Mickelson, who attended his daughters high school graduation in San Diego on Thursday lunchtime, needed a lengthy weather delay in order that he could take his place in the field. This now becomes the first major since the 1994 Masters to take place with both Mickelson and Tiger Woods as absentees.

Amongst those who did play, but perhaps wishings he didnt, was Danny Willett; the fight of last years Masters champion continued politenes of an 81. The Yorkshiremans only consolation for now resonates in glories of the past; his toiling has become painful viewing.

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USGA eager for only players to take centre stage at US Open this time

The United States Golf Associations Mike Davis said the problems at the past two US Opens affects our whole organisation

Those in positions of authority may be soft targets for vociferous abuse but nobody has matched the United States Golf Associations fuelling of such fires.

The regulations farce that overshadowed Dustin Johnsons maiden major win, at last years US Open at Oakmont, would have been damaging enough for the USGA had it arrived in isolation. Twelve months earlier, the worlds best players had erupted in ferocity regarding the dreadful condition of greens at Chambers Bay.

Golfs governing body in the US was embroiled in farther chaos in April, a womens major having descended into comedy after a ruling based on contact from a television viewer; 24 hours earlier. And there is more; at the conclusion of the US Womens Open of 2016 the USGAs president, Diana Murphy, continued a propensity for erratic speech-making by continually calling the winner by the wrong name. Pieced together, this is like professional athletic gratifies Eldorado.

In their traditional, eve of tournament address at the US Open, the USGAs leading lights were not 100% convincing over whether a repeat of the Johnson scenario will be avoided. There has, at least, been an admission that things went badly incorrect in Pennsylvania and a move to improve on archaic processes.

Something like the last couple of years affects our whole organisation, Mike Davis, the USGAs executive director, said. Any period your competency comes into question that affects the people who are dealing with the history of video games and helping to grow the game. Of course, we want to avoid these things but sometimes things happen.

Specific issues at Erin Hills are partly within the USGAs control and partly not. A huge property some capital cities are smaller will inevitably lead to tediously long rounds. The USGA slashed back the sectors of thick fescue rough early this week but deny that was a response to widespread complaints from players. It is not as if we dont listen to feedback from players, Davis said. But in this case it had absolutely zero to do with what the players were saying. We look at some places and said, simply: This is not going to play properly.

The great unknown comes in the form of weather, which is infamously mutable at this time of year in the Midwest. Early predictions suggest heavy rain will have an impact, most notably on the first round.

Almost a fortnight has passed since Phil Mickelson notified the USGA he likely would not participate in the one major thus far absent from his CV, with the left-hander keen to attend his daughters high school graduation on Thursday lunchtime in San Diego. Davis with a straight face claimed it was pure coincidence Mickelson was given a late period for the first round, thereby maintaining alive the possibility of competing should a significant weather lag arise.

This situation is not particularly impressive, with the clear inference the pin-up boy of US golf is being assisted in a manner that would not be forthcoming towards others. Given the timescales involved, and in avoiding uncertainty for others, Mickelson should have been told either to commit to playing or not.

Johnson arrived in Wisconsin on Tuesday afternoon, his partner having given birth to the couples second child a day earlier. Glory at Oakmont was sufficient for Johnson to finally endorse underlying talent. He is now established as No1 in the world; a course where long, straight driving will be essential is surely of benefit.

Jason Day and Rory McIlroy retain precisely the same weapon, with the latters performance after an injury is a lack of particular intrigue. It is a curious commonplace that none of the worlds best players enter this major in particularly striking kind. The expectancy is of a lower winning score than has been typical over the past 20 years, provided the course must be drawn up in a sensible manner.

We want to afford players a completely clear stage to perform and do their job, Murphy said. We want to stay out of the style and not be part of the narrative. The very fact this phase had to be made at all rather told one of its own.

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Phil Mickelson to miss US Open in favour of daughters graduation

Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the US Open to attend his daughters high school graduation, entailing his wait to complete the decide of major championship victories will continue

Phil Mickelsons wait to complete a clean sweep of major championships will go on for at the least another year, after it emerged the 46 -year-old has withdrawn from the upcoming US Open so that he can attend his daughters high school graduation. Dedicated Mickelsons reputation in the United States, this marks a serious blow to the event.

Mickelson, who has suffered a series of near-misses at his home open, was scheduled to join the field at Erin Hills from Thursday week. However, speaking at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio where he is playing this weekend Mickelson said he will put family before professional goals.

Mickelsons daughter Amanda will graduate on 15 June, the working day of the US Opens first round. As I look back on life, this is a moment Ill always cherish and be glad I was present, Mickelson told the New York Times. Theres no greater pleasure as a parent.

Mickelson is believed to have already informed the United States Golf Association of his decision, out of respect for the number of final qualifying places they can make available on Monday. As one of the finest golfers in the history of the game, Mickelsonneeds only the US Open to become the sixth player in history to achieve a grand slam of majors.

Sceptics might sense an undertone either of Mickelson feeling he is unable to compete at what is a new host venue Mickelson has not won at all since the Open Championship of 2013 or holding a dim view of the USGA. Recent US Opens have been overshadowed by bad publicity, including the rules furore which provided a backdrop to Dustin Johnsons success last year. When asked last month whether a successful US Open was necessary to improve the reputation of the USGA, Mickelson responded: I dont know if one thing right is going to fix that.

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