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SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Brooks Koepka made his high school golf team at Wellington Christian in South Florida at the precocious age of 12. On the drive home from his first match, after shooting a 41 for nine holes, young Brooks informed his parents of his life plan: he was going to drop out of school in about four years and turn pro.

Bob Koepka pulled the car to the side of the road and supplied an immediate reality check.

“You’re going to go to high school,” Bob told Brooks. “You’re going to college. And then if you’re good enough, you can turn pro.”

The car pullover lecture is a quintessential Dad Move, and Bob Koepka told the story of it Sunday evening while enjoying the best Father’s Day of his life. He told the story not far from the 18th green at Shinnecock Hills, where he hugged his son when he walked off with a second straight U.S. Open. His boy went to high school, went to college (Florida State), and now has become the first repeat Open champion since Curtis Strange in 1988-89.

Bob and Brooks’ stepmom, Sherry, missed last year’s victory at Erin Hills, watching it on TV at home when they couldn’t find lodging within 30 miles of the course. They weren’t going to miss this one.

“He’s the one who got me started in golf,” Brooks said. “It’s so cool to have him here this week.”

They were present to see “Back-to-Back Brooks” live out the lesson Bob delivered on the side of the road 16 years ago: One step at a time.

There was no shortcut to pro golf at age 16, and there are no shortcuts to winning a U.S. Open. Especially this U.S. Open, on a merciless course that refused to allow a single golfer to break par for the tournament. Grandiose visions of a birdie avalanche are a waste of time. Winning at Shinnecock required laser focus on finding fairways, hitting greens and rolling putts, one hole after another.

“Keep parring it to death,” Koepka said.

If pars lack flair, well, so does Koepka. He’s as emotional as a fish on the course.

“He has the perfect demeanor for what he does,” Sherry Koepka said.

Parring the course to death was a markedly different approach to last year’s Open, when Erin Hills rolled over and played dead. Koepka shot 16-under par there, a heretical number in a championship that traditionally mauls the golfers.

Winning a second straight Open is wildly impressive, something accomplished only by Koepka, Strange and Ben Hogan since the 1930s. Winning a second straight Open in a completely different manner than the first one is a stamp of greatness for the 28-year-old Koepka.

When he won in 2017, plenty of people downplayed the victory as the result of an overly compliant course. That was music to his ears.

“I always feel like I’m overlooked,” he said afterward. “I couldn’t care less. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Said Bob: “He knows how to put that little chip on his shoulder. Anytime you put a challenge in front of him, he has a way of stepping up.”

There is no downplaying this Open title, no dismissing it as a product of a gimmicky course. Shinnecock dismissed Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth on Friday, provoked Phil Mickelson to break the rules on Saturday and then bowed down to Brooks Koepka on Sunday.

It sure didn’t look like this repeat would happen earlier this year. Wrist surgery put Koepka on the shelf for four months. Missing the Masters in April made him realize how much he missed playing.

Being ignored by many of his colleagues made it worse. Koepka said the only players who reached out to him while he was off the tour were Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Mickelson.

“Those are the only guys that texted me,” he said. “You make a lot of friends out here, and you feel like a lot of them, you just get forgotten.”

He was gone, forgotten – but hardly done. Remarkably, his swing was in tune from the first moment he was cleared to hit balls. There was scant rust to scrape off. Koepka missed the cut in his first tournament back, made the weekend in his second, then finished tied for 11th at The Players Championship in mid-May.

At that point, he figured he was ready to win again. But in the early stages of the second round here, Koepka looked like one of the least likely candidates to win.

He opened with a 75, putting him six shots behind the leaders heading into Friday. Then Koepka bogeyed two of his first four holes, floated to seven-over par, and was flirting with missing the cut.

Then it turned. Koepka played the rest of that round in six-under par, soaring up the leaderboard and into contention. Still, he was five shots behind 2016 Open champion, world No. 1 golfer and close friend Johnson.

In the Shinnecock media tent, the coronation of Johnson was underway Friday. He led by four shots and made it look easy while everyone else was flailing. The only problem is that Johnson’s game skipped the weekend — he shot 77 Saturday to come back to the field, and 70 Sunday.

Koepka and Johnson played together Sunday — two strong, silent types who might be the most physically impressive players on the Tour. They hit the gym together Sunday morning for a workout — then barely spoke during their round together.

“We’re both competitive,” Koepka said.

While Johnson started with four straight pars, running in place, Koepka birdied three of the first five holes to take a lead he would never relinquish. He had his game face on.

“My wife always says, ‘He’s got that Koepka look,’ ” Bob Koepka said. “He carries himself with a ton of confidence.”

Through 10 holes Sunday, Koepka had the look of a winner. Then things got rocky, and he had to save himself. A bad tee shot on the par-3 11th hole wound up over the green, down the hill and in gnarly rough.

“I would have taken double from there,” he said. “That was jail.”

He got out with a light sentence. Koepka purposefully hit the comebacker hard to make sure the ball didn’t roll back down the hill, and it wound up in a bunker on the other side of the green. He blasted to 12½ feet, then rolled in the first of a succession of clutch putts.

A six-footer for par salvaged the 12th hole, and then he drained an eight-footer for another par on 14. By this time, Tommy Fleetwood had been in the clubhouse with a 63 and was lurking just a shot behind — but Koepka never let him get a tie for the lead.

After a birdie on 16, Koepka had the cushion he needed. All that remained was to navigate the last two holes, then walk off into the embrace of his dad.

It had been some week for Bob and Sherry Koepka, who arrived in New York on June 9 and went to Belmont Park to see Justify win the Triple Crown. Then they hunkered down on Long Island to see their son make some sporting history of his own.

After Bob held court with a few reporters near the Shinnecock clubhouse, he thanked them for their time. Before heading to the trophy presentation, he offered one last thought.

“I hope you guys have a happy Father’s Day,” Bob Koepka said. “I think I’m one-up on you.”

SOURCE:  Yahoo Sports

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With the 2018 U.S. Open starting this week, you’re going to see plenty of statistics and data flying around regarding this country’s national championship. Heck, the broadcast alone will have copious amounts of yardages and angles along with all manner of information to consume.

As for what you need to know before the U.S. Open begins with first-round action on Thursday, we have you covered.

Here are 10 figures you need to know about this year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York.

2: Golfers who have made the cut at the last five U.S. Opens. Their names are Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia. That’s it. There are 17 others who have made the cut at four of them, but Garcia and Kuchar are the only ones who have hit the weekend at all five.

2: Also, golfers with a sub-70 first round scoring average over the last five Opens (minimum three played). This one surprised me a bit. Not because of the number but the names. Dustin Johnson is first at 69.4. The other is reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed at 69.8.

9,049: Entries into this year’s U.S. Open. The eighth-most ever.

4: Golfers with an average finish of 10th or better in the last five U.S. Opens when making the cut (minimum three cuts made). Here they are along with their average finish.

  • Rickie Fowler: 5.7 (three cuts made)
  • Jason Day: 5.8 (four cuts made)
  • Brooks Koepka: 9 (four cuts made)
  • Jason Dufner: 10 (three cuts made)

27: Major champions playing in this year’s U.S. Open, which means 17 percent of the field has a major championship in their pocket.

10: Golfers who have made 100 percent of cuts in U.S. Opens they’ve played over the last five years. We’ve already looked at two of them in Garcia and Kuchar, but here are the rest.

  • Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar: 5
  • Brooks Koepka, Kevin Na: 4
  • Steve Stricker, David Lingmerth, Ian Poulter, Daniel Summerhays, Harris English, Matthew Fitzpatrick: 3

Interestingly, only Fitzpatrick, Poulter, Stricker, Koepka, Kuchar and Garcia are in the field this year out of the aforementioned group.

7,440: Yards the U.S. Open will play at Shinnecock this year. At that number, it would not be one of the 10 longest setups in U.S. Open history. Erin Hills in all four rounds holds the top four spots on the list with Round 1 tipping out at 7,845, which is the longest in the tournament’s history.

5: Golfers who will have competed in the last three U.S. Opens at Shinnecock (including this one). Kenny Perry, Ernie Els, Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are the five.

1: Golfers who have made the cut at at least four of the last five U.S. Opens and played those events under par. The only one is Koepka, who was 16 under at last year’s edition at Erin Hills.

  • Brooks Koepka: -8 overall (4 cuts made)
  • Brandt Snedeker: +3 (4)
  • Jason Day: +6 (4)
  • Hideki Matsuyama: +6 (4)
  • Jim Furyk: +6 (4)
  • Louis Oosthuizen: +9 (4)
  • Jordan Spieth: +9 (4)
  • Dustin Johnson: +10 (4)
  • Kevin Na: +12 (4)
  • Adam Scott: +20 (4)
  • Martin Kaymer: +20 (4)
  • Matt Kuchar: +21 (5)
  • Sergio Garcia: +22 (5)
  • Billy Horschel: +23 (4)
  • Zach Johnson: +25 (4)
  • Ernie Els: +31 (4)
  • Webb Simpson: +32 (4)
  • Paul Casey: +33 (4)
  • Lee Westwood: +33 (4)

25: Els has the most current consecutive appearances in this championship; this year will be No. 26. Mickelson has the most appearances overall with 26; this year will be No. 27.

SOURCE:  CBS Sports

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Tireless 24-year-old nabs second TOUR win at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide

DUBLIN, Ohio – By the time he made a 12-foot birdie putt to close out Byeong Hun An in a playoff at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, Bryson DeChambeau had already checked the nitrogen levels in the Muirfield Village rough, verified the camber of the 18th green, and analyzed the glycemic load of Jack Nicklaus’ favorite milkshake.

Or so you would believe, given DeChambeau’s mad-scientist reputation.

“People always kind of scrutinize me saying I’m too technical and whatnot,” DeChambeau, 24, said after moving from 22nd to 4th in the FedExCup with his second PGA TOUR win. “It’s all just to aid my feel. I am a guy that goes off of feel still, to everybody’s surprise, probably.”

By now it’s well known that the polymath DeChambeau has reimagined golf. He plays with a single-length set of irons, advocates a single-plane swing, and has done for the humble yardage book what Leonardo da Vinci did for anatomy.

Good copy, as they say in the typing business.

But it doesn’t really explain how this guy won the Memorial while hitting just 5 of 14 fairways in regulation play Sunday. How after missing 14 straight cuts last season, he now must be considered one of the 10 best American players. (He and other potential U.S. Ryder Cup Team members were fitted for uniforms at Muirfield Village earlier this week.)

Yes, DeChambeau has reimagined the game, but he’s been even better at reinventing himself.

“Other players go to the range,” said his caddie, Tim Tucker. “He goes to the range religiously.”

Case in point: DeChambeau was the only one on the Muirfield driving range as the sun bled over the horizon Saturday night. What was he working on? No telling. He was improving his transdimensional aspect, closing the thorium loop, attenuating the dip slip. It doesn’t matter, and DeChambeau says he doesn’t like to give away his secrets, anyway.

The important thing is he was working.

“He’s happiest when he’s hitting balls,” Tucker said.

With his active mind, DeChambeau is a perfect fit for golf, with its three-dimensionality and limitless variables. But that insatiable curiosity would mean nothing without the insatiable work ethic to go with it, the willingness and stamina to tear everything apart and start all over again.

And again.

And again.

In a sport where even the big winners fail most of the time, self-reinvention is everything. Those 14 straight missed cuts, the last of which came at the U.S. Open last summer? Not unusual. Plenty of players could describe similarly bleak stretches before they turned into caddies and broadcasters.

Not DeChambeau. Although he said it was “a tough pill to swallow” and wondered if he was a TOUR quality player, he also settled in and sucked it up. It was time to have the Big Talk with the guy looking back at him in the mirror, because if he was going to survive, he had to adapt.

“I went back to the drawing board,” he said, “kind of figured something out, and ultimately wound up winning the John Deere four weeks later because of that hard talk to myself.”

But his reinvention wasn’t over, because he went straight from the Deere, where he thought he’d figured something out, to the Open Championship, where he shot 76-77 to miss the cut by eight shots. And he failed to make the TOUR Championship two months later. “So I went back to the drawing board again,” DeChambeau said, “… to be able to come out with something that has allowed me to be more consistent on TOUR, have less error in where I’m hitting it and be more confident in unique situations.”

The second drawing board worked even better than the first one.

He notched a top-20 finish at the Safeway Open, a top-10 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, a top-5 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Reinvention gave way to refinement, and he was second to Rory McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, T3 at the RBC Heritage, and 4th at the Wells Fargo Championship.

The mad scientist was closing in.

DeChambeau led the field in scrambling (17/21) at the Memorial, and was ninth in Strokes Gained: Putting (+4.916). With only five fairways hit, the entire final round was a high-wire act.

He three-putted the 72nd hole to fall into a playoff with Kyle Stanley (70) and An (69), and ripped off his white, Hogan-style cap and swatted his leg with it.

“Let’s go win it,” caddie Tucker said.

https://twitter.com/PGATOUR/status/1003363173632626688

As sudden-death playoffs go, this one wasn’t very sudden. For the second time in 20 minutes, DeChambeau split the 18th fairway with a 3-wood, and he and An each missed the green before making deft par saves. Stanley, who had birdied four straight holes on the back nine to make the playoff, could barely get a club on the ball for his second shot and bogeyed to fall away.

Again, DeChambeau went back to the 18th tee; again, he split the fairway with that 3-wood. This time his 9-iron approach shot rode the wind to within 12 feet of the pin. When the final putt fell, with An looking at another short putt to save par, the winner looked up and pumped his arms. He had found validation, again, and with something less than his A-game, grinding out the win the way tournament host Nicklaus had so often back in the day.

“Sometimes that’s what you gotta do,” Nicklaus said. “If your driver’s not working, your putter better be working. And if your putter’s not working, everything else must be working. But he had the right club working today and that was his flat club. Nice going.”

A Memorial victory, by the way, comes with a three-year exemption on TOUR, which is one more than most tournaments. DeChambeau may not need the extra year, but it’s nice to know it’s there. You know, just in case he ever has to go back to the drawing board.

SOURCE: PGATour

DUBLIN, Ohio — Hideki Matsuyama and Tiger Woods hit their stride at the end of their rounds at the Memorial, and it paid off in different ways.

Matsuyama was in the middle of the pack at Muirfield Village when he ran off four consecutive birdies and then holed out with a wedge from 130 yards on the 17th hole for an eagle that sent him to a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with 19-year-old Joaquin Niemann of Chile and Abraham Ancer of Mexico.

“As the round went along, I played better and better,” said Matsuyama, who got his first PGA Tour win at the Memorial four years ago.

So did Woods, which helped him avoid another big number on a course where he has won five times. Woods three-putted from 25 feet to fall to 3 over with five holes to play. He answered with three consecutive birdies — two of them on par 5s on the front nine — and got up-and-down from 62 yards on the ninth hole for a 72.

“It was nice to somehow grind out the round, turn it around and finish even par,” said Woods, playing the Memorial for the first time since 2013.

Niemann, who won the Latin America Amateur Championship in January, appears to be on the fast track to the PGA Tour. He turned pro after the Masters and already has a pair of top 10s in his four events. Another one this week might be enough to earn special temporary membership on the PGA Tour, meaning he would have unlimited exemptions to try to earn his card.

Ancer had only one bogey on his card early in his round, and he followed with eight birdies. It was the first time he has had a share of the lead after any round in his 40th start on the PGA Tour.

It wasn’t his first time at Muirfield Village, just Ancer’s first time playing the tournament.

He got that firm handshake from the tournament host in 2010 when Ancer received the Jack Nicklaus Award as the top junior college player when he was at Odessa College. He later played at Oklahoma.

“I got to come here as a freshman, get that award from Jack. That was incredible,” Ancer said. “It was like deja vu walking the fairways — watching from the outside, and now playing. It’s a dream come true. And today I felt great.”

Beau Hossler, who keeps showing up on leaderboards in his rookie season, had a 66. The group at 67 included Lucas Glover, while Jason Day was among those at 68.

So many of the other top players struggled.

Justin Thomas, in his debut as the No. 1 player in the world, was trading birdies and bogeys and was making progress until he hit his approach out-of-bounds on the par-5 seventh hole and made double bogey, sending him to a 72. Also at 72 was Dustin Johnson, who made nothing but pars on the back nine and failed to birdie any of the par 5s.

Rory McIlroy played the par 5s in 1 over and shot 74. Phil Mickelson was 4 under through eight holes until a double bogey on No. 9, and then four bogeys over his last six holes for a 74. Jordan Spieth shot 75, hurt by two double bogeys on the front nine. He went from a fairway bunker into the water on No. 6, and then went some 25 yards beyond the green on the par-3 eighth for another double bogey.

Matsuyama’s big run began after a sluggish start to the back nine on a muggy, humid day that left Muirfield Village soft, particularly with a burst of heavy rain late Wednesday. The Japanese star chopped his way out of the nasty rough on the 10th and 11th holes, both times making bogey.

And then he couldn’t miss.

It started with an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 13. He followed with a wedge to tap-in range on the 14th and another wedge to 2 feet on the par-5 15th. After a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th, he was in the middle of the fairway when his wedge landed beyond the hole and spun back into the cup.

Matsuyama hasn’t had a top 10 since the Sentry Tournament of Champions to start the year (tie for fourth), and he has been struggling with a left thumb injury.

“It has been frustrating,” he said. “In the past, even if I wasn’t playing well, I could still get it around, get it in the hole. So the last couple of months have been trying. I’m just really glad that I was able to play well today and post a good score at the start.”

Niemann tied for sixth in his pro debut at the Valero Texas Open, and he had a 65-66 weekend at Colonial to tie for eighth. He has started quickly, much like Jon Rahm of Spain two years ago when he secured his card in four starts, boosted by a tie for third and a runner-up finish.

Niemann isn’t sure how many FedEx Cup points he needs for special temporary membership.

“I just want to be out here and enjoy my round and try to play my best and see how it goes,” he said.

SOURCE:  USA Today

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DALLAS (AP) — Aaron Wise cruised to his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, shattering the AT&T Byron Nelson record at 23 under on a new course in a race to finish before nightfall after a four-hour rain delay.

The 21-year-old rookie shot a 6-under 65 to beat Marc Leishman by three strokes as both became the first to finish the Nelson at 20 under or better in the first year at Trinity Forest. The treeless links-style layout was defenseless with softer fairways and greens and no wind once the morning storms passed.

The Nelson celebrated its 50th anniversary with a return to Dallas after 35 years at the TPC Four Seasons in suburban Irving. Rory Sabbatini set the previous record on that par-70 layout at 19-under 261 in 2009.

Wise, the 2016 NCAA individual champion at Oregon, reached 20 under with his third birdie in the first seven holes.

 

Branden Grace matched his career-best 62 from last year’s British Open — which was the lowest round ever in a major — and finished at 19 under with J.J. Spaun and Keith Mitchell, who had matching 63s.

Hometown star Jordan Spieth shot 67 to finish 11 under.

SOURCE:  Golf.com

 

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