PEBBLE BEACH, (Reuters): Gary Woodland held his nerve to claim his first major with a three-shot victory at the US Open on Sunday, bringing Brooks Koepka’s two-year reign to an end.
Woodland had not managed a top-10 finish in his first 27 majors before last year’s PGA Championship, where he tied for sixth, but he handled the final round with the composure of someone who had been playing for golf’s biggest prizes his entire career.
Pebble Beach, CA, USA; Gary Woodland poses with the trophy after the final round of the 2019 US Open golf tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links - USA TODAY Sports
Ending his round in style with a birdie at the last, Woodland carded a two-under 69 to keep Koepka from becoming the first man in more than a century to sweep three straight US Opens.
“Just glad it was over,” smiled Woodland. “I didn’t let myself get ahead at all today. Didn’t ever let myself think the tournament was over. So I just stayed in it.”
World number one Koepka went down fighting, finishing with a three-under 68 to leave him three short of Woodland’s winning total of 13-under 271. Justin Rose began the day one shot back of Woodland but the Englishman crumbled on the back nine with three bogeys for a three-over 74 and a tie for third at seven-under with Xander Schauffele, Chez Reavie and Spain’s Jon Rahm.
It was a remarkable display of determination and guts by the 35-year-old Woodland, who seven times before had held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event and seven times could not close the deal.
Tiger Woods, a three-time US Open winner, had ended the third round 11 shots back of the leader but still gave himself a chance of winning a 16th major on Sunday.
Those slim hopes disappeared quickly when he bogeyed four of his opening five holes.
Woods hit back with six birdies, including one at the 18th, for a two-under round, his lowest final round at a US Open in a decade but still 11 back of winner.