PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Gary Woodland denied Brooks Koepka's bold bid at history with two clutch shots and made U.S. Open memories of his own, starting with that silver trophy in his hands at Pebble Beach.
Woodland finished in style Sunday. He holed a 30-foot birdie putt for a 2-under 69, giving him the lowest 72-hole score in six U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach and a three-shot victory over Koepka, who was going for a third straight U.S. Open.
Koepka had to settle for a footnote in history as the first player with all four rounds in the 60s at the U.S Open without winning. But he made Woodland earn every bit of his first major championship.
And he did.
Clinging to a one-shot lead with more pressure than he has ever felt, Woodland seized control by going for the green on the par-5 14th hole with a 3-wood from 263 yards, narrowly clearing a cavernous bunker and setting up a simple up-and-down for a two-shot lead.
Even more significant was a shot from 90 feet.
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.
Ahead on the 18th, Koepka's 3-iron went just over the back of the green, leaving him a chip for eagle to tie, with a birdie likely to do the trick considering what Woodland faced. Koepka chipped to just inside 10 feet and missed the putt.
Woodland delivered again. Unable to use putter to get it close, he perfectly clipped a pitch over the mound, and it checked about 12 feet short of the hole and trickled down to tap-in range.
That effectively ended the U.S. Open. Woodland played conservatively down the 18th and made one last birdie that only mattered in the record book. He finished at 13-under 271, one shot better than Tiger Woods' historic rout in 2000.
The difference was Woods won by 15 shots and was the only player under par. With a marine layer blocking the sunshine, and no significant wind at Pebble Beach all week, 31 players finished under par.
Koepka closed with a 68 for his second runner-up in the majors this year, along with his second straight PGA Championship title.
Justin Rose was the only one who caught Woodland, with a birdie on the opening hole. Rose bogeyed from the bunker on No. 2, and fell out of the race with three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine. He shot 74 and shared third with Xander Schauffele (67), Jon Rahm (68) and Chez Reavie (71).
Woods birdied six of his last 12 holes and was never a factor.
Mickelson not in mix
The familiar line about aging in golf is that the ball doesn’t know how old you are. Your body does, certainly. And as in every sport the ultimate winner eventually proves to be Father Time.
Phil Mickelson turned 49 Sunday, and if the surroundings at Pebble Beach couldn’t have been more perfect, the circumstances were less so.
As he played the U.S. Open at the same place he began as a pro more than a quarter century ago, fans were only too eager to greet him and sing “Happy Birthday.”
“It’s pretty cool,” Mickelson said. “The people here have been so nice to me, and I’m very thankful.”
His game was less satisfying. He shot a final round 1-over-par 72 for a four-round, 4-over 288 total.
That Mickelson didn’t come close to winning the major he lacks to become the fifth man in history to take all four of the major golf championships did not become part of the conversation. That subject had been worked over numerous times since he won the 2013 British Open, adding that to three Masters and one PGA Championship.
Rather, he reminded everyone how difficult the game can be, and that every tournament has more disappointment than success.
“Dealing with losing in this game is a huge thing,” said Mickelson, who with 44 PGA Tour wins has had to deal with it less than most pro golfers.
“Because even the best — the greatest winners, win only a small percentage of the time,” he said. “But I have had so many special moments here at Pebble Beach that I can’t help but play here and be thankful and appreciative for all the gifts that I’ve been given. This was my first event as a pro, 1992, and even though I didn’t play my best it is an eternal place.”
Henderson wins LPGA event
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Brooke Henderson won the Meijer LPGA Classic to break the Canadian record for tour victories with nine.
The 21-year-old Henderson led wire-to-wire for her second victory in three years at Blythefield Country Club, closing with a 2-under 70 in chilly conditions to hold off Lexi Thompson, Nasa Hataoka, Su Oh and Brittany Altomare by a stroke.
Henderson broke a tie with Sandra Post for the Canadian record on the LPGA Tour and also moved ahead of George Knudson and Mike Weir for the overall country mark.
Also the Lotte Championship winner in April in Hawaii, Henderson matched the tournament record of 21 under that she set in 2017 (when the course played to a par of 71) and also was tied last year by So Yeon Ryu. Henderson opened with consecutive 64s, playing 30 holes Friday after rain delayed the start Thursday, and had a 69 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round.
Thompson followed her course-record 62 in the third round with a 68, closing with an eagle for the second straight day. The 2015 winner at Blythefield, she was coming off a victory last week in New Jersey.
Hataoka shot 65, also making an eagle on the par-5 18th. Oh had a 66, and Altomare shot 68.
The KPMG Women's PGA Championship, the third major championship of the year, is next week at Hazeltine in Minnesota.