Thursday, 18 July, 2019

Woodland holds nerve to claim U.S. Open

Gary Woodland reacts after missing a putt on the 18th hole during the third round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament Saturday Gary Woodland remains in lead going into final round at U.S. Open
Shannon Reynolds | 17 June, 2019, 20:39

Koepka made a strong push with four birdies on the front nine and one on the back nine to trail Woodland by two strokes into the final three holes.

Woodland, a 35-year-old who played basketball for one year at Washburn before taking a golf scholarship at Kansas, is immensely popular with his peers, many of whom gathered behind the 18th to celebrate his first major with him.

And then all roads lead to Portrush for the final major of the year, with a quick detour across the Irish Sea for the Scottish Open, and by that stage, McDowell expects his links game to be in rude health ahead of The Open.

The challenge for the entire field is that Pebble Beach is like a giant chessboard and every shot is a conundrum.

"I always believed I would be a professional athlete and be successful", Woodland told CNN World Sport's Patrick Snell after his three-shot victory on the Monterey Peninsula.

After Koepka made a flying start with four birdies in his first five holes, Woodland responded with birdies on the second and third and twice enjoyed a three-shot lead before carding just his third bogey of the week on the ninth.

The next came after a miss from the tee at the par-3 17th.

Woodland hit the edge of the green on the par-3 17th all the way to the right, with the pin on the hourglass green on the other side.

Including Rose and Koepka, seven major-championship winners are within seven shots.

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The Open, of course, takes place in McDowell's home town of Portrush in July and the ten-time victor on the European Tour will be hoping to maintain that major momentum following good performances at his first two majors of the year. It took a while for the course to initially be added to the rotation, but Pebble Beach has now become a regular part of the U.S. Open. This win changes Woodland's life, and the recent form suggests that he's capable of continuing this success in the near future.

Rose was two shots back when he won his only major at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. His world ranking heading into the week was 25 and will obviously improve, but the fact that he outlasted a leaderboard of heavyweights at Pebble Beach should ring true to where Woodland's game is at right now. They were the only two players to shoot four rounds in the 60s and Woodland sealed his win with a 30-foot birdie putt at the last.

Woodland played conservatively down the 18th and made one last birdie that only mattered in the record book. It was a quite remarkable performance from leftfield on and around the greens and one that nobody could have expected. Schauffele was 5 under on the day thru 10 and ended up with a 67 that easily could have been a 66 or 65 if a few putts had fallen down the stretch.

Mickelson said before this tournament started that the USGA messes up the U.S. Open "100 percent of the time" unless it rains and that he would be "pulling for rain" during the tournament.

This year's winning score by Gary Woodland was 13-under par as a whopping 31 golfers finished under par for the week.

Those are the names of the U.S. Open champions who have been crowned at Pebble Beach.

Koepka closed with a 68 for his second runner-up in the majors this year, along with his second straight PGA Championship title. They do have to put and scramble well to win though and that was one of the most frustrating aspects about this week's victor for me.

T21. Tiger Woods (-2): Woods needed a flurry of birdies late in his round to shoot a 2-under 69 and finish the championship under par.

Woods birdied six of his last 12 holes and was never a factor.

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