Berger, Finau ride early tee time into share of US Open lead

Lewis Collier
June 18, 2018

Even the USGA CEO is admitting that the course at Shinnecock Hills in NY was playing too hard on Saturday at the US Open.

Koepka staved off a brilliant charge by Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who matched the lowest score in tournament history, a seven-under-par 63 at Shinnecock Hills.

Koepka, who won the 2017 edition at Erin Hills by four shots, became the first back-to-back US Open victor since Curtis Strange successfully defended his title in 1989.

Reed suffered back-to-back blemishes from the 11th, where Johnson three-putted from the front of the green, as Koepka got up-and-down from the rough to save par at the 12th and holed a 10-footer for par at the 14th.

The US Open has a "last man standing" feel about it we are about to find out who the toughest grinder in the game is. He was a stroke off the lead when he completed play more than two hours before the final pairing. It's really unfortunate, because in my opinion, some of the best land and certainly one of the best venues in all of golf, especially in this county, is Shinnecock Hills. Only the U.S. Open has struggled to present a fair championship and decently regulated course. "I knew what it was for", said Fleetwood.

Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who played alongside Rose and actually went to the lead whenhe birdied the fifth, also was not about to fire both barrells at the USGA.

"I had chances the last few holes to shoot 61 or 62", he admitted, knowing the record in a major is Branden Grace's 62 at last year's British Open.

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Johnson, four-under and leading by four heading into the round, was in trouble early with his first double bogey of the week at the par three second. On Sunday, they were playing side-by-side without exchanging words, each trying to play a course that was considerably softer than the previous day. He topped a tie for sixth by St. George native Jay Don Blake in the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in California.

Johnson, who won the 2016 US Open, was asked his opinion of the course set-up. But he shot 81 in the final round and Michael Campbell was the surprise victor. Just as the final putt dropped and Bob Koepka stood there triumphantly, arms over head like Muhammad Ali, came the disappointed follow up.

"Some of the guys probably wish that they would have made the cut around 5 or 6 in a way".

Dustin Johnson, part of the four-way tie for the lead to start the final round, couldn't keep up with one of his best friends.

"I think that was like making a birdie, maybe even making an eagle", he said.

It left four players level at three-over in the lead with a round to play - Johnson, Finau, Berger and Koepka, the defending champion.

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