‘A’ game not enough for Brooks Koepka at U.S. Open | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

‘A’ game not enough for Brooks Koepka at U.S. Open

Associated Press
1302212_web1_1302212-1733668e329b4c39a3b9190b7573dada
AP
Brooks Koepka hits from the fairway on the ninth hole during the final round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2019, in Pebble Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Brooks Koepka brought his ‘A’ game to Pebble Beach on Sunday, hoping it would be good enough to make history.

He did.

But even his ‘A’ game wasn’t enough to slow down the magic show Gary Woodland was putting on behind him.

Koepka’s round of 3-under-par 68 left him three strokes short of Woodland, who stopped Koepka’s quest to become the first player since 1905 to win three straight U.S. Opens.

Koepka did make history by becoming only the fourth player to break 70 in all four rounds of a U.S. Open. Only problem — 10 minutes later, Woodland became the fifth, thanks to a par save courtesy of a chip off the 17th green that nearly went in, then a 30-foot birdie on 18 for the final dagger.

“Gary, he played a hell of a round today,” Koepka said. “All props to him.”

Indeed, props go to Woodland for holding off Koepka, who made an all-world par save — first from the gallery, then the thick grass in a barranca fronting the second green — and followed that with three straight birdies that pushed him to 11-under, only one shot off the lead.

“It was nice to get off to a good start,” Koepka said. “I thought, ‘Yeah, we’ve got a ballgame now.’ ”

It was quite a ballgame, but it didn’t go back and forth.

Even after a front side of 3-under 32, and even after stuffing a wedge on No. 11 to 10 feet for a birdie to get to 11 under, Koepka could not grab the lead — not even for a second.

Koepka missed the fairway on 13, 14 and 15 and saved par each time, but there was no piercing-perfect gap wedge, a la the 10th hole at Bethpage two months ago, and there were no holding off Tiger Woods and all those cheers, a la Bellerive last year.

Instead, it was Woodland putting together the shot-making clinic.

His 3-wood from 263 yards out on the par-5 14th set him up for a birdie that gave him a two-shot cushion, and would’ve been the shot of the tournament had it not been for the shots he made from the greens — one with wedge, the other with putter — on 17 and 18.

It put Koepka in a tough situation at the end.

He was 227 yards from the pin on the par-5 18th and needed eagle to have any chance.

“Kind of an awkward number for me,” he said.

His 3-iron flew past the hole and landed over the green in a tricky lie near the back. He stubbed the chip, then barely missed the 9-foot birdie putt that would’ve put him at 11 under.

In the end, it might not have mattered.

And though Koepka will have to wait another month before going for major No. 5, at the British Open at Royal Portrush, his resume didn’t take too bad a hit.

His line in the majors this year: One win, two second-place finishes.

It remains one of the most dominating stretches of golf in a while.

When this close call was over, Koepka finally took some time to reflect on the history he almost made.

“When I was done on 18, you kind of realize, ‘Wow, I was just that close,’” Koepka said. “But I wasn’t able to get it done. I don’t think anyone in the world played as well as Gary did today.”

Categories: Sports | US-World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.