JUNE PRO GOLF WRAP-UP
Presented by Global Golf Management
Brooks Koepka has yet to win a lot in his pro career. But he knows how to win the U.S. Open.
The Florida native won the national championship for the second consecutive year, only the seventh man in history to score back-to-back titles, when he outdueled his friend Dustin Johnson and held off Tommy Fleetwood for a one-stroke victory June 17 at historic Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
Koepka, 28, of Jupiter, Fla., shot a closing 2-under 68 to finish at 1-over 281 for his third PGA Tour title. He finished one stroke ahead of England’s Fleetwood, who tied the U.S. Open record with a 7-under 63. Johnson, who won the 2016 U.S. Open, shot 70 to end up third after having at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds.
“I don’t want to say I didn’t think I could do it,” said Koepka, who shot 16 under in winning the 2017 title at Erin Hills. “But I knew that it was going to be that much more difficult. And to finally do it, it’s much more gratifying the second time. I can really appreciate how hard it is to win a major.”
The last man to win consecutive U.S. Open titles was Curtis Strange in 1988-89. He was working as a broadcaster for Fox Sports at Shinnecock Hills and was among the first to congratulate Koepka on the achievement.
Koepka’s triumph, and that of Arijya Jutanugarn in the U.S. Women’s Open, were the highlights of a full June schedule on the PGA Tour and LPGA. Other winners on the PGA Tour were Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Bubba Watson. Annie Park, So Yeon Ryu and Nasa Hataoka were victorious on the LPGA.
Johnson had arrived at Shinnecock fresh off his 18thcareer victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic that elevated him back to world No. 1. He shot a closing 4-under 66 highlighted by a hole-out eagle on the 72ndhole, to finish at 19-under 261, the lowest score at TPC Southwind since it was redesigned in 2004. Johnson, 33, also won the tournament in Memphis, Tenn., in 2012.
The month’s first winner on the PGA Tour was DeChambeau, who won the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide for his second PGA Tour title. He defeated Byeong Hun Ann on the second hole of a sudden death playoff when he converted a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
The 54-hole leader, DeChambeau carded a final-round 71 to finish at 15-under 273 before winning the first three-way playoff in Memorial history and the fourth playoff in the last five years. Kyle Stanley, the second-round co-leader, had a 70 in the final round while An shot 69 and found himself in the playoff when both Stanley and DeChambeau bogeyed the 72nd hole.
Ranked outside the top 100 when the year began, Bubba Watson continued his resurgence at the Travelers Championship when he fired a final-round 7-under 63 at TPC River Highlands and blew past third-round leader Paul Casey to win for the third time in 2018.
The tall left-hander won his third title at the Travelers, completing 72 holes in 17-under 263 to complete a six-stroke comeback. He ended up three strokes better than Casey, Stewart Cink, J.B. Holmes and Beau Hossler to become the first three-time winner on the PGA Tour this season.
On the women’s side, the month started with a major, and Ariya Jutanugarn survived a horrific collapse to win her second major championship. The 22-year-old from Thailand defeated South Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim on the fourth hole of a playoff to win the U.S. Women’s Open June 3 at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala.
Jutanugarn lost a seven-shot lead on the back nine but managed to salvage the day with a tap-in par save from the bunker on the fourth extra hole (played at sudden death after she and Kim were tied under the new USGA two-hole aggregate playoff). Jutanugarn closed with a 73 that included a triple-bogey on the 10thhole that started a spiral that almost cost her the title. Kim, meanwhile, closed with a 67 and tied Jutanugarn at 11-under 277.
Starting the day with a four-shot lead, Jutanugarn registered her ninth LPGA title.
Park became the latest Rolex first-time winner on the LPGA when she fired a closing 8-under 63 to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic in Galloway, N.J. With six birdies and an eagle the final day, Park, 23, of Levittown, N.Y., beat Sakura Yokomine by a stroke, finishing 54 holes in 16-under 197 on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview, one stroke off the tournament record.
Park earned $262,500, surpassing the $261,096 she had earned in first 49 LPGA starts.
In Grand Rapids, Mich., Ryu, a former U.S. Women’s Open champion, won the Meijer LPGA Classic for her sixth LPGA title. She fired a 5-under 67 for a 21-under 267 aggregate total, two strokes ahead of Caroline Masson.
Finally, Hataoka of Japan, just 19 years old, held off Ryu for her first LPGA title, shooting an 8-under 63 at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., to capture the NW Arkansas Championship.
Hataoka set a tournament record by finishing at 21-under 192 to beat Ryu, vying for her second win in a row, by three strokes.