Koepka withstands record-equalling round to defend US Open title

Players were treated to a bit of a surprise Friday morning when a rainstorm hung over the course

Players were treated to a bit of a surprise Friday morning when a rainstorm hung over the course. Getty Images

Sir Nick Faldo believed Tommy Fleetwood had done enough to win his first major here after his record-equalling 63 and so, too, did the bookmakers who made him the long odds-on favourite going into the enthralling final hour of the 118th US Open.

"I'm happy for him".

"We grinded our tail off this week to come back from seven-over (during the second round)". It was pretty special.

Koepka is the seventh player to win America's national championship of golf in back-to-back years.

The victory - and first prize of $2.16 million - is another chapter in the remarkable tale of a young multi-sport athlete in the USA who moved into golf following a serious auto crash and then learned his trade traveling around Europe and beyond on the second-tier Challenge Tour.

Fleetwood played with Koepka in the final group a year ago at Erin Hills. "This is incredible. I don't think I could've dreamed of this, going back-to-back".

After witnessing a drastic change in course conditions that were magnified by questionable pin placements on Saturday, the USGA took everything they'd heard and turned Sunday into a much easier golf course.

But Koepka steadied himself and ground his way home in the traditional style of a U.S. Open victor, making par on six of the last seven holes and birdieing the par-5 15th to give himself some breathing room.

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Only Koepka met the challenge.

Odd told reporters moments after Koepka's final putt that he wasn't the least bit disappointed he could no longer claim to be the most recent back-to-back victor. A tough 12-footer limited the damage at 11 to a bogey after he hit into the greenside rough and from there into a bunker. He teed off nearly 2 1/2 hours before-and six strokes behind-third-round leaders Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger and Tony Finau on Sunday and soared up the leaderboard with four consecutive birdies on holes 12, 13, 14 and 15.

Fleetwood could only watch it all unfold. It's in my opinion some of the best land and certainly one of the best venues in all of golf. Two guys who began the day 11 shots behind Johnson. "So it's been a great day".

"US Open just takes so much discipline; sometimes you feel like you are about to break mentally, but that's what I enjoy", he said.

Overnight leader Dustin Johnson saw his four-shot lead disappear after firing a seven-over par 77, saying later that "I don't feel like I played bad", while many other players struggled on the lightning fast greens that saw good shots turn into bad as they rolled way past the hole or off the green altogether.

Reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed ended up fourth at 4 over after a 68 in the final round, while Finau (72) double-bogeyed the final hole to finish in fifth another stroke back at 5 over.

Koepka's magnificent performance looks even better when you consider that he missed the first three months of the year with a wrist injury. Berger tied for sixth in this year's competition, while Ellis did not make the final cut.

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