News & Opinion

Koepka falls 3 shots shy in bid for history

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – It just wasn’t Brooks Koepka’s day.

Koepka, a four-time major champion, was a popular pick to win a third consecutive U.S. Open title before the week began at Pebble Beach Golf Links. But he came up three shots short of winner Gary Woodland.

Koepka, who trailed Woodland by four strokes entering Sunday’s final round, started with a big move: four birdies in his first five holes. His biggest early boost might have been a par save on the 523-yard par-4 second hole, after he hit his tee shot far right of the fairway. Facing a long shot out of heavy rough, Koepka dumped his approach into a ditch some 40 yards short of the green. Koepka made a dramatic recovery from Pebble Beach purgatory, to about 8 feet behind the hole, where he drained a momentous putt for par.

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Brooks Koepka saves par at the 15th, but he would finish 2nd to Gary Woodland in a failed bid for a 3rd consecutive U.S. Open title.

© USGA/CHRIS KEANE
Brooks Koepka saves par at the 15th, but he would finish 2nd to Gary Woodland in a failed bid for a 3rd consecutive U.S. Open title.

With his 4-under start, Koepka closed to within one stroke of Woodland, but that was as close as he would get. Koepka made only one birdie over the remaining 13 holes and signed for a 3-under 68 and runner-up finish (scores).

“It doesn't sting,” said Koepka, who was seeking to tie Willie Anderson, who won three consecutive U.S. Opens, in 1903-05. “I played great. Nothing I could do. I gave it my all. I give it my all every time, and sometimes, like this week – it happened at Augusta [where he tied for second in the Masters] – it's not meant to be.”

Koepka, who is No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, leaves Pebble Beach having recorded four rounds in the 60s and posting a 10-under score.

Now, he will head across the country to this week’s Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn., with an eye on next month’s British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, where he is the early 6-1 favorite.

“It was awesome to come this close to going three in a row,” Koepka said. “It's incredible. Any time you can compete in a major is special, and to have a chance to go back-to-back-to-back, that was pretty cool. I didn't really think about it until I was done on 18 and realized how close I actually was to kind of, I guess, not making history, but kind of tying it, I guess you could say. But it's a cool feeling to know. Just wasn't meant to be this week.”

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: alex@morningread.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli