Jun 16th, 2019
Woodland stand firms
As record eludes Koepka
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
Congratulations to Gary Woodland who stood firm under the pressure of a charging Brooks Koepka, the world number one and winner of four of the last eight majors he had played in. Others launched a challenge, most notably England’s Justin Rose, but all faded away as Woodland stuck to his task.
Woodand had failed to capitalise on a 54-hole lead on no fewer than seven previous occasions. However, when the chips were down, and playing on the biggest stage of all, he passed the test and broke that losing streak in style.
Woodland started strongly birdying the second and third holes but Koepka was in imperious form with four birdies in the first five holes. However, having failed to capitalise on the short par five 6th Koepka seemed to go a little off the boil. He bogied the tricky par four 8th hole and never looked in total control from that point onwards.
Koepka did birdie the 11th to move to eleven under and the tide seemed to be shifting in his favour. Woodland had bogied the par four 9th and was now just one shot ahead of the world number one. However, Koepka then coughed back up the shot when he found the front bunker at the par three 12th and he failed to get up and down.
Woodland, also bogied the 12th hole after a wayward tee shot but from that point on, he was the best golfer. Koepka’s failure to capitalise on his length at the par fives was key. He was only level par for the three long holes, the 6th, 14th and 18th whereas Woodand would cover the same holes in two under.
The 17th at Pebble Beach once again provided a great shot from the ultimate winner. Woodland who had to pitch from the far right edge of the green over the hump that protrudes in to it. His touch was sublime as the ball bounced and then grabbed, releasing down the slope to three feet. At the same time Koepka was failing to birdie the last hole and the title was, barring a disaster on the 18th, Woodland’s.
Woodland plotted his way from tee to green at the last with three solid iron shots and with the luxury of three putts for the title he drained the thirty-foot birdie putt.
Woodland was in a jubilant mood following his final round 69. “US Open champion sounds really, really good,” Woodland said. “I never let the tournament get ahead of me and think I’ve won and this is special. The shots on 14th and the 17th showed what I can do. I was playing to win.”
It was a day to forget for Justin Rose in his quest for a second US Open title. He looked in good touch when birdying the opening hole to join Woodland at the top of the leaderboard. Despite bogeying the second, as Woodland birdied, he remained in contention and a birdie at the sixth saw him close the gap once again. Sadly, it was downhill from there as the amazing short game we had witnessed over the first three days seemed to desert him. Rose would eventually finish with a three over 74 and a share of third.
Elsewhere there were charges from the likes of Louis Oothuizen, Xander Schauffele and most notably Adam Scott. The Australian was flying, six under for his round and nine under for the tournament, when he stood on the 13th tee. Inexplicably, he hit his drive so far right he carried over the boundary of the course and out of bounds. A double bogey was the result – game over.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy had a rollercoaster of a round which included two double bogeys. He finished with a birdie at the 18th hole to just sneak inside the top 10 at five under.
The English trio of Matt Wallace, Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick were a further stroke back on four under.
Tiger Woods dug deep once again after a disastrous start to his final round. Four over after six, Tiger then turned on the style with six birdies and no dropped shots in his last twelve holes. The remarkable 69 would leave him on two under and tied 21st for the event.
For the final leaderboard click HERE
And another thing....