Brooks Koepka wins back-to-back US Opens

Brooks Koepka holds aloft the trophy after his one-shot win at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island. Picture: AP
Brooks Koepka holds aloft the trophy after his one-shot win at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island. Picture: AP
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Former SSE Scottish Challenge winner Brooks Koepka is a double US Open champion after holding off a record-equalling last-day charge from Tommy Fleetwood at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island.

Koepka produced a nerveless display in the final round on Long Island to become the first player since compatriot Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989 to successfully defend the title in the second major of the season.

Brooks Kopeka is interviewed after his victory by Curtis Strange, the last player to record back-to-back wins in the season's second major in 1988 and 1989. Picture: AP

Brooks Kopeka is interviewed after his victory by Curtis Strange, the last player to record back-to-back wins in the season's second major in 1988 and 1989. Picture: AP

Fleetwood had set the clubhouse target after a brilliant closing 63, agonisingly missing from eight feet for a birdie at the last to become the first player in US Open history to sign for a 62.

The 27-year-old Englishman finished on two-over-par and faced a lengthy wait to see if anyone could beat that on a course that had been softened by the USGA following the debacle in Saturday’s third round.

In the end, Koepka was the only man to beat Fleetwood’s target and only after he’d hole a great putt for a bogey at the short 11th then hit a superb approach to set up his final birdie of the event at the 17th.

In signing off with a 68, Koepka finished on 281, one-over par and one ahead of Fleetwood, with 2016 champion Dustin Johnson a shot further back in third and Masters champion Patrick Reed next on four-over.

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood was all smiles after closing with a record-equalling 63 that earned him second spot. Picture: Getty Images

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood was all smiles after closing with a record-equalling 63 that earned him second spot. Picture: Getty Images

“I always felt like I had a chance,” said Koepka, who has never looked back since earning an automatic step up to the European Tour after his win in the 2013 SSE Scottish Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore.

“You make a couple of birdies and you make up a lot of ground. I felt like I was never out of it; I was hitting it well, putting it well and just needed to keep grinding.

“I knew the conditions were going to ease up a little bit, and they did and I just took advantage of it. It’s incredible to have my name on there (the trophy) twice and to go back-to-back is even more extraordinary. I am truly honoured.

“I did not drive it great but you can make up so much with a hot putter. The great bogey I made on 11 was big. I would have taken double bogey because we were in jail. I could easily have been derailed with a double or triple bogey.”

Russell Knox lines up a putt en route to a closing 69, which earned him a share of 12th spot - his best performance in a major. Picture: AP

Russell Knox lines up a putt en route to a closing 69, which earned him a share of 12th spot - his best performance in a major. Picture: AP

Due to a wrist injury, the 28-year-old had played just five events before this week in 2018, missing out on The Masters.

He will now be heading to Carnoustie next month with high hopes of adding the Open Championship to his title haul after recording two top-10 finishes in that event in the past three years.

“This time it’s a little sweeter,” admitted Koepka of having his friends and family watching his success at Shinnecock Hills after they were not at Erin Hills 12 months ago.

“My dad loves golf and it’s incredible to share it with him. It’s the second year in a row I haven’t got him anything for Father’s Day. Next year I won’t either as it might bring some good luck!”

Fleetwood, who was fourth behind Koepka last year, had no complaints about coming up just short in his bid to land a maiden major victory.

“It’s my first Father’s Day as a father. I enjoyed that and I enjoyed watching the golf,” he said.

“As a golf fan it was good watching how he handled himself down the stretch and how he won another major.

“As a player who was one behind him it wasn’t great to watch but you have nothing but respect for him and I enjoyed how he did it.

“That was pretty much time well spent. All in all, it’s been a great day.”

Russell Knox finished joint-12th after he signed off with a 69 for an eight-over-par aggregate. It was the Inverness man’s best performance in a major after missing the cut in all four of them in 2017.

Calum Hill, the only other Scot to make the cut, ended up 61st on his major debut after signing off with a 73.