Category Archives: Brooks Koepka

  • 0

2019 U.S. Open Final Round Highlights

The 119th playing of the U.S. Open is officially in the books following four days of grueling competition. The host site, Pebble Beach, didn’t quite fight back as many expected but it yielded plenty of exciting opportunities and tension down the closing stretch. After winning back to back in 2017 and 2018, defending champion Brooks Koepka nearly made it a three-peat but inevitably came up three shots short.

Keeping calm, cool, and collected Sunday, much like he did all week, gave Gary Woodland the poise to pull off his first Major victory. Since the close of Friday’s second round, the 35-year old four-time PGA Tour winner stayed at the top and refused to let go of his chance at history. With a final round of 69 Woodland finished the tournament 13-under par and three clear of the competition.

Between Woodland, Koepka, and Justin Rose battling at the top, the leaders turned in plenty of top shots Sunday. But the field below them jockeying for position also provided their fair share of highlight reel moments. Last Word on Golf has compiled the top highlights from Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open.
Woodland wins at Pebble Beach
With Koepka and Rose already making moves to threaten the lead, Woodland answered right back with a birdie at the second hole to improve to 12-under.

With what can only be described as ice running through his veins, Woodland matched the roars from Koepka’s early charge with another confident birdie of his own to extend his lead back to two.

As Koepka began breathing straight down his neck, Woodland stepped up once again and delivered a clutch birdie to increase his lead to two shots once again.

Woodland proved human after barely missing a 21-footer for birdie that would’ve moved him to a three-shot lead.

Another narrowly missed birdie putt helped to highlight how Woodland’s lead so much of the U.S. Open this week, by minimizing the big numbers and keeping his scores consistent.

On the green in three at the par-5 18th, and already a two-stroke lead, Woodland refused to play it safe by turning in a crowd erupting 30-foot birdie to solidify his first ever major championship at the 2019 U.S. Open.


Rose and Koepka contend
Starting the day four off the lead, reigning back to back U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka turned the heat up quickly with a birdie on his first hole of the day.

With a birdie to close his round Saturday, Justin Rose kept the momentum train rolling with another birdie on his first hole of the day to get into an early tie of the lead.

From a seemingly impossible lie in the thick rough and an awkward angle, Koepka turned around what could have easily been a bogey or worse with an incredible approach that would lead to a par save.

From the fairway on the par-4 3rd, Koepka reeled in his approach to set up an easy birdie to get to 9-under.

With three birdies in his first four holes, Koepka jumped into a tie for second and began the rumblings of a comeback back to back to back U.S. Open championship bid.

With almost 22-feet to the hole, Koepka continued his birdie run at the par-3 5th.

After a few routine pars Koepka went back to the birdies at the par-4 11th to move to just one shot off the lead.

With so much going on around him Rose stayed laser-focused over his par-saving putt at 11.

Still two shots off the lead, Koepka had a chance to put the pressure on and move the lead to just one with one to play. Unfortunately for Koepka it wasn’t meant to be as his birdie putt on 18 just barely missed the right edge.


The Best of the Rest
Just a few more inches and Rory McIlroy would’ve had one of the shots of the entire tournament as he missed an ace at the iconic par-3 7th hole be just a few rotations of the golf ball.

After 59-years of Jack Nicklaus’ 72-hole U.S. Open amateur record standing strong, at his last tournament as an amateur, Viktor Hovland broke that record Sunday by two strokes.

He may not have had much to talk about for much of the tournament but Bryson DeChambeau turned in some early noise from the gallery with an eagle at the par-5 6th to get back to even par.

2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson made his move up the leaderboard with an eagle at the 6th and a follow-up birdie at the 7th to also battle back to even par.

Falling off the gird after a sensational opening round, Rockie Fowler proved he still has plenty to prove at Pebble Beach following a birdie putt from off the green at the par-4 4th.

Aaron Wise used every inch of spin he could muster at the par-5 14th for a remarkable 79-yard birdie hole out.

Scott Piercy started his round in one of the best ways possible with a birdie hole out at the very first hole of the day.

Despite finishing the tournament at 4-over par, the newly turned 49-year old Phil Mickelson finished his 28th U.S. Open appearance with a birdie at 18.

If you come to play Pebble Beach you better know how to play out of the sand. 2018 Open Champion, Francesco Molinari proved he knows his way out of a bunker with a birdie hole out at the 8th.

No matter where he is on the leaderboard all eyes are on Tiger Woods. And Woods knows how to deliver late in on a Sunday including this lengthy birdie at the par-4 13th.

Main Photo

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’suH8_fjpTT9_FHAt8XuUGw’,sig:’Rshnxnkt-U2XKstGdv2b2rWKC-5Flfn_2KR00NvMduk=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’1156361137′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});The post 2019 U.S. Open Final Round Highlights appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

2019 U.S. Open Third Round Highlights

The 2019 U.S. Open is far from over but while moving day provided a needed boost for some, the names on top saw little change. After a stunning second round, Gary Woodland continued his methodical poise around Pebble Beach Saturday.

Woodland began the day 9-under par for the tournament and holding onto a one-shot lead. Despite his first bogey in 34 holes, the current U.S. Open leader turned in a steady 2-under third round of 69. His playing partner Saturday, Justin Rose, kept things close with a 68 to stay just one back of Woodland.

While the top two didn’t change, the leaderboard below them shifted around with a number of odds on favorites making their move. With so many of the top players in golf pulling out all the stops at Pebble Beach, the third round of the U.S. Open turned in a number of replay-worthy highlights.
Woodland and Rose continue to set the pace
Gary Woodland showed no signs of pressure or slowing down as he needed just four holes Saturday to turn in his first birdie and extend his lead to three.

Needing to capitalize on the rare Woodland mistake this week, Justin Rose settled in to gain the two-shot swing at the par-4 8th.

After his first bogey in 34 holes at the 8th, Woodland bounced back at 11 as he spun his approach to just over two feet. He would clean up for birdie to get back to 10-under par.

Following an awkward lie after his tee shot at the par-3 12th, Woodland found himself off the green chipping for par. However, no putter was no problem as he found the perfect line to save par.

Not letting Woodland’s chip-in par save rattle him, Rose fired back at 12 with a strong birdie putt to cut the lead back to two.

Looking to be in trouble once again at 14, Woodland had to cover over 42-feet for his par. And he used every inch of the green to bury that putt at the bottom of the cup for par.

Rose dropped a shot at 13 but fired one right back following Woodland’s stunning par-saving putt to again get back to 9-under and within two.

It may have been a grind Saturday but Rose will march into Sunday with the momentum and just one shot behind Woodland following a closing birdie at 18.


Koepka keeps history in sight
Looking to stay in striking range, the reigning back-to-back U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka nearly cashed in an eagle at the scoreable par-5 6th hole but had to settle for a birdie for his first red number of the third round.

Standing over his birdie putt at the par-4 10th, Koepka knew he had to find the right line to convert. And convert he did to move to 7-under and a tie for second.

Needing nothing put perfection from off the green at the par-4 15th, Koepka dialed in just that as he sent his par putt from 31-feet on a picturesque line for the save. He would save par at 18 to finish four shots off the lead in his quest to three-peat on Sunday.


Contenders continue to put the pressure on
Closing birdies at 15 and 18 moved Rory McIlroy to a solo 6th place at 6-under heading into the final round at the U.S. Open.

Culminating with this 12-footer at the par-3 17th, Louis Oosthuizen turned in three straight birdies to fight his way back to a tie for third heading into Sunday’s final round.

2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell finished his round in emphatic fashion after sinking a 34-foot eagle putt to reach 4-under par.

Everyone likes a good eagle so why not two more? Paired together Saturday, Chesson Hadley and Matt Kuchar completed the rare feat as both made eagle putts at the par-5 6th.

Kuchar and Hadley weren’t the only playing partners feeding off one another as Brandt Snedeker and Rafa Cabrera Bello holed out from off the green at the 8th.

Looking for his best finish at a U.S. Open, 24-year old Jon Rahm chipped in for birdie at the par-4 8th.

Friday may not have gone his way but perennial favorite Rickie Fowler turned his fortunes around early Saturday with three birdies through his first seven holes including a 27-foot putt at the par-3 7th.

From off the green and needing a lengthy make to save par, Chez Reavie followed the exact line from 17 yards out to stay tied for 5th at the time.

Despite not being on the green, Rory Sabbatini, who already claimed a hole-in-one highlight Thursday, sank back to back birdies from off the green at four and five.


Tiger finishes with a highlight of his own
It wasn’t a marquee day for the reigning Masters champion but fan favorite Tiger Woods turned in a birdie on his final hole of the day to battle back to even par for the tournament.

 

Main Photo

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’f06rGouNT2habtXWasAhrg’,sig:’yb7lHeF7lba3neiA7bhA8lMIVsehBSBN_Y3ws0OVAl4=’,w:’594px’,h:’426px’,items:’1156169126′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});The post 2019 U.S. Open Third Round Highlights appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

2019 U.S. Open Second Round Highlights

Pebble Beach tried to battle back Friday but there were still plenty of low numbers to be had throughout the second round of the 2019 U.S. Open. Deep rough and ever-changing winds tried to unnerve some of the top names in the world of golf. Despite the conditions, one player emerged from the pack as the outright leader heading into the weekend.

Coming off two top-10 performances in his last three Major appearances, Gary Woodland shot a 6-under second round of 65 to take a two-stroke lead over the field. Since early in his opening round, Woodland now finds himself bogey-free over his last 27 holes. The 12-year pro may be in uncharted territory but if his play stays as steady as it did today he seems more than up to the task.

While the top of the leaderboard flourished, the rest of the field struggled to stay inside the dreaded cutline. The pressure of leaving Pebble Beach early mixed with the importance of a major championship provided plenty of top highlights during the U.S. Open’s second round.
Woodland goes low
Beginning his day 2-under par through his first nine holes, starting on 10, Gary Woodland began his battle to the top of the leaderboard with an emphatic birdie at the par-4 1st to move within one of the lead.

After putting himself in prime position, Woodland took his shot at the leaderboard with back to back birdies beginning with a quick, breaking two to tie for the lead at the par-3 5th.

A sensational approach at the 529-yard par-5 6th gave Woodland a look at eagle but he’d ultimately settle for a birdie to claim the outright lead at 8-under.

With his lead in jeopardy late in the round, Woodland stayed calm before pouring in a difficult 15-foot putt to save par.

After it seemed like Woodland pulled out every surprise he had in his bag of trick Friday he saved possibly the best for last with an improbable 49 and a half foot birdie putt to end his round with the tournament leading 9-under par.


Top contenders chase down the lead
The defending back to back U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka continued to battle through his second round just to stay in striking range of the lead. Back to back birdies at six and seven helped keep Koepka on track heading to the weekend.

One of the most consistent players in the game, Justin Rose seemed to have the 36-hole lead nearly untouchable early in his round Friday. Even following his missed hits, the Englishman found a way to birdie including battling out of the bunker at the difficult par-5 18th.

The 2018 Open champion Francesco Molinari proved he doesn’t need a putter to move into contention following a chip-in for birdie at the par-3 7th.

A roller coaster ride featuring seven birdies and five bogeys brought down what began as a solid start for Jordan Spieth. The 2015 U.S. Open champion started his second round with three birdies over his first four holes.

Before Woodland made his charge, it was the South African Louis Oosthuizen who was threatening the lead thanks to his accuracy of the tee and touch around the green.

Despite a back and forth round both Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy proved why they are two of top players on the PGA Tour and around the world with bounce back play at the 14th and 16th respectively.

With back to back rounds of 69, the man known as Kuch ignited the crowd on his final hole of the day with a chip in for eagle at the par-5 18th to place Matt Kuchar at 4-under and five shots off the lead.

The last man to win a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Graeme McDowell, made a run of his own Friday featuring a stretch of four straight birdies starting at the par-4 4th.

A leader late Thursday before being passed by Justin Rose, Scott Piercy continued to claw back toward the lead with a long birdie putt Friday at the par-4 13th.


The battle against the cut heats up
Finishing 1-over par for his round, Tiger Woods skated inside the cutline by just two strokes thanks to clutch short game and putting including a birdie at the par-4 11th.

Only his second week back from injury and Justin Thomas flirted with the cutline throughout his second round. At the par-4 9th, JT’s game looked to have a glimmer of hope with a hole-out from the greenside rough. Unfortunately, the 2017 FedEx Cup champion failed to make the cut by two strokes.

Despite missing the cut, Ian Poulter finished his 2019 U.S. Open in memorable fashion after draining his third shot from 71-yards out for birdie.

 

Main Photo

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’7fkN2NcTRj1zCLzrizixUw’,sig:’zT0dQfzFQjyDVYgsQFM7fNbCufeM1gtB5TEYnW6Ms0M=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’1155997447′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});The post 2019 U.S. Open Second Round Highlights appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Last Word on Golf 2019 U.S. Open Predictions

This week some of the Last Word on Golf’s writing team tackle our 2019 U.S. Open predictions. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf panel make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your U.S. Open picks and predictions.
Favorite Underdog
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Graeme McDowell (80 to 1)

The biggest underdog I’ve picked this season comes back to a familiar locale this week at the 2019 U.S. Open. Northern Ireland’s own Graeme Macdowell was the last man to win a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach back in 2010. Earlier this season the 39-year old found himself back in the winner’s circle at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship.

McDowell’s recent form has been on the upward trajectory as he finished tied for 29th at the PGA Championship and currently sits 5th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting (an essential stat with this week’s tricky poa annua greens). This past week at the RBC Canadian Open McDowell gained a momentous boost of confidence after sinking a clutch putt on the final hole to punch his ticket back home to Royal Portrush and The Open Championship just over a month away.

Josh Mullenix (@TheJMULL_)- Matt Kuchar (50 to 1)

Not entirely sure you can consider Kuch an underdog, but he certainly isn’t a favorite. Pebble Beach isn’t that long of a golf course. What comes at a premium is hitting fairways and accurate approach shots to these small, undulated greens. Kuchar does both of these things beautifully and his lack of power won’t hurt him on a golf course that is only going to play 7,075 yards.

He ranks inside the top-10 on the PGA Tour in both driving accuracy and strokes gained: approach the green. Apart from a missed cut at the Memorial, Kuchar hasn’t finished outside the top-12 since the Players in mid-March.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Jon Rahm

Entering the U.S. Open, Spain’s Jon Rahm sits at a 28-to-1 favorite and in many cases is a top-10 consensus to perform. However, the often emotional (and sometimes volatile) Rahm is coming off two straight missed cuts, including at the PGA Championship.

Going up against a tricky USGA layout at Pebble Beach may prove too much to handle for the immensely talented 24-year old rising star. Thus far this season Rahm sits 110th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green, 72nd in Strokes Gained: Approach and 71st in Scrambling.

The narrowed fairways and troublesome misses could play equalizer to the accuracy and length off the tee. While he is more than capable of making the proper adjustments, Pebble Beach has a way of humbling even the game’s greatest competitors which could mean an early return home for Rahm from one of the most iconic courses in all of golf.

Mullenix- Phil Mickelson

I really want Phil to win this week and complete the grand slam, but I just don’t see it happening. Since Mickelson won the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach earlier this year, his best finish is a tie for 18th at Augusta, he’s missed four cuts in nine events, and only has two rounds in the 60s since the beginning of the Masters.

He is 208th on tour in driving accuracy and is 102nd in greens in regulation percentage. Those stats don’t add up to a player that is going to make the cut at the toughest test in golf. Mickelson has been far too inconsistent this season and he’ll miss the cut at the 2019 U.S. Open despite his successful history at Pebble Beach.
2019 U.S. Open Runner-Up
Walton- Brooks Koepka

It’s incredibly difficult to bet against the Major prowess of Brooks Koepka. Not much can be revealed that hasn’t already been hammered home this past week, and even this past year. Not even 30 yet and he is coming off a tie for second at this year’s Masters as well as a successful title defense at the PGA Championship.

Add in that Koepka is already the reigning back-to-back U.S. Open champion and the facts and figures make it nearly impossible to not make him the frontrunner on every poll. That being said, chalk this prediction more up to a gut reaction. The three-peat is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplishment in golf especially coming into a course like Pebble Beach.

I still believe Koepka will turn in a solid, contending performance this week but I just don’t see him winning his 5th Major, at least not yet.
Mullenix- Patrick Cantlay

Patrick Cantlay is playing the best golf of his career. A pair of T3’s at the RBC Heritage and the PGA Championship were followed by an incredible win at the Memorial including a Sunday 64. Eventually, Cantlay is going to get a major, but it won’t be this week. I just don’t have faith in him at majors after what happened to him on the back nine at Augusta.

He looked very uncomfortable and two bogeys in the final three holes took him out of the running quickly. Don’t be surprised to see him near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday, but he needs to be in contention at a major one more time before he actually gets it done.

2019 U.S. Open Champion
Walton- Rory McIlroy

Simply stated, Rory is on a roll. In 13 events played this season McIlroy has finished top-10 in 10 of those tournaments. Six of those were top-5 performances including two victories. Just last week he took home the RBC Canadian Open by a staggering seven strokes following a final round of 61 (which could’ve been a 59) to finish with a tournament total of 22-under par.

Speaking to his stats he currently sits first in Strokes Gained: Total, Off the Tee and Tee to Green as well as the best on tour average for eagles made. Additionally, since 2014 McIlroy currently sits in the top three performers on poa annua greens at 2.93 strokes gained total. (behind Dustin Johnson and Jason Day)

The Northern Ireland native knows what it takes to battle against heavy hitters like Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka. This week, with momentum on his side and his confidence at an all-time high, McIlroy is undoubtedly a front runner to win his second U.S. Open and his 5th major championship.
Mullenix- Dustin Johnson

Nine years is a long time for demons to hang around and DJ’s win at Oakmont in 2016 effectively exorcised the demons from his collapse at the 2010 U.S. Open. DJ has a great track record at Pebble including back-to-back wins at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2009-10.

While it isn’t the same course presented for a U.S. Open that players find in February, history has shown that four of the five U.S. Open winners at Pebble Beach also won the Pro-Am at some point. Over his last 12 rounds, Johnson has 10 rounds in the 60s including four rounds of 69 or better at the PGA Championship where he finished in solo second. DJ gets it done at Pebble and wins his second major championship.

Main Photo
Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’AvUUT1RBQ4hJWAvtKJ20AQ’,sig:’QFztz82illQlhQL8AJr5sRY2d8ejxTHv3HoQHjMONhU=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’1141279606′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});The post Last Word on Golf 2019 U.S. Open Predictions appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Brooks Koepka Fueled By History and Motivation for U.S. Open

Tags :

Category : Brooks Koepka , Golf , PGA , U.S. Open

It’s easy for Brooks Koepka to find motivation on weeks like this. For starters, it’s the U.S. Open, a tournament where Koepka has won in back-to-back years. The four-time major champion is trying to become the first since Willie Anderson to win three straight U.S. Open titles.

But in addition to maintaining the mental fortitude required to compete at a major championship, Koepka has another chip on his shoulder. This year, it is with Fox Sports, the official television provider broadcasting the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. In their annual promo for the tournament, there was a notable golfer missing. Brooks Koepka. In fact, out of the four promos Fox Sports created, three of which included the World No. 1, the one selected highlighted his absence.

And Koepka was quick to jump on this fact, which will serve as his primary motivation at the third major championship of the year.

“I was just kind of shocked,” said Koepka. “Somebody got fired over it, or should.”
Brooks Koepka’s Self-Perception, Mental Toughness Enables Success
A lot has changed since the days of Brooks Koepka travelling every week to play in tournaments throughout Europe. Or at the 2017 U.S. Open, when Dustin Johnson was more noticeable in the workout room than Koepka. There are still instances where the six time winner on the PGA Tour pinches himself at the attention he generates.

“I still think it’s weird when I walk into a place and I can see eyes are on me just for dinner,” reveals Koepka. “I just view myself as a regular guy, just like everybody else. And I just happen to be really good at golf, and that’s it. I don’t view myself any different than anybody else does.”

There is a plethora of individuals who can play golf really well. But very few can play at the highest level like Brooks Koepka. What makes him abnormal compared to the average golfer is his inherent aptitude for blocking out distractions. The mental capacity to hit timely shots in the biggest moments of a golf tournament has been the impetus to move Koepka into golfing stardom, winning four of the last eight majors he has competed in.

Koepka has been able to dominate to major victories, like he did at Erin Hills for his first U.S. Open. He has conquered unequivocally challenging golf course setups at Shinnecock Hills and the galleries rooting for Tiger Woods at the 2018 PGA Championship. Most impressive was Koepka’s most recent major championship victory, battling the windy conditions at Bethpage Black, to survive the bogeys and the near-comeback from Dustin Johnson. It was his most emotionally draining victory yet, but once again demonstrated Koepka’s clutch ability under the immensity of major championship pressure.

“I watched a six-shot lead disappear very quickly,” affirmed Koepka. “I was actually really proud of myself the way I spun that mentally, being able to block things out and turn a negative into a positive by hitting great shots.”
Doubt Koepka At Your Own Risk at Majors
Pebble Beach will be a unique test for Brooks Koepka. Compared to the other courses he has won U.S. Opens at, the classic setup at Pebble is much shorter. Requiring a golfer to hit creative shots, particularly on the sloping greens.

No golfing body will be under the microscope more than the USGA this week. After two years of questionable course setups, coming back to a classic course like Pebble Beach will provide an opportunity for redemption. But to Brooks Koepka, a golf course is the same test for anyone. Hence why he shrugs off the criticism towards the USGA when it comes to course structure.

“If they put it in the fairway, you shouldn’t have to complain about the rough. You hit the greens and you hit it close, you shouldn’t have to complain about the greens,” states Koepka. “I’ve just been never one to complain and make excuses.”

The blueprint at major championships is one that has worked for Koepka. Four of his six PGA Tour wins have come at majors. Throughout this dominant stretch, Brooks has stressed his mental ability to lock in at these tournaments. When he isn’t at the golf course, Koepka is with his close friends and family. The close bubble away from the buzz of a major championship enables Koepka to relax and adapt that laser, tunnel-vision focus on the golf course. He has won four major championships with this approach, why stop now?

“I just keep it very, very strict on major weeks. It’s something I’ve done ever since I’ve gotten to major championships,” says Koepka. I keep the golf at the golf course; and when I go home, I put my feet up and relax. These are super stressful weeks. And to find some place of relaxation is important.”

With the golfing world wondering if Tiger can win his 16th major, or if Phil Mickelson can finally claim his U.S. Open, don’t gaze too far away from Brooks Koepka. Golf is in need of a dominant successor. Koepka is the name everyone is chasing now.The post Brooks Koepka Fueled By History and Motivation for U.S. Open appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Mickelson eyes Career Grand Slam at Pebble Beach

As father time ticks away, this week’s U.S. Open from Pebble Beach could be the last real opportunity for five-time major champion Phil Mickelson to complete the coveted grand slam of golf. The four-time All-American tees it up, alongside 155 other top players in the world, in his home state of California this Thursday.

Three times in his 27-year professional career the legend known as ‘Lefty’ has donned the green jacket as Masters Champion (2004, 2006, 2010). Add a PGA Championship in 2005 and The Open Championship in 2013 and just one more piece of the puzzle remains. Placing that last piece of the puzzle is easier said than done with a hard-hitting group of top contenders including Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy surrounding you.
Mickelson’s U.S. Open History
In 27 starts at the U.S. Open, Mickelson has yet to take home the trophy despite making the cut a remarkable 89-percent of the time (24 of 27 made cuts). Almost inconceivably, he has finished in the top-10 on 10 separate occasions. Six of those top-10 finishes saw Mickelson fall just short of the title in the runner-up position.

Throughout his career, Mickelson has played a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach three different years. Starting in 1992 with a missed cut, he has improved every outing since. In 2000 he found himself in a tie for 16th while 2010 ‘Lefty’ took charge with a tie for 4th.

With six-second place finishes including Pinehurst (1999), Bethpage Black (2002, 2009), Shinnecock (2004), Winged Foot (2006) and Merion (2013), Mickelson has been on the cusp but has never been able to make that final leap into the winner’s circle.

Winged Foot Golf Club’s West Course, the site of Mickelson’s 2006 runner-up finish, will be the host site next year for the 2020 U.S. Open. Despite his past success, the 14-year difference on Mickelson’s abilities may put the 7,264-yard length of Winged Foot out of reach for what will be a 50-year old Phil Mickelson.

Despite being 17th in driving distance this season, Mickelson still comes in 78th in strokes gained tee-to-green and 100th in strokes gained off-the-tee. While this year’s U.S. Open may not be a bomber’s paradise, keeping steady off the tee is an essential aspect for any victor to have in his bag. Luckily for Phil, he more than knows his way around the sprawling California oasis known as Pebble Beach.
Familiarity factor at Pebble Beach
An illustrious career has yielded Mickelson 44 PGA Tour victories. Five of which have come at none other than Pebble Beach Golf Links. While certainly a tale of two courses from the time-honored Pebble Beach Pro-Am to the USGA’s treacherous U.S. Open set up, the familiarity factor cannot be underestimated.

Four of his five Pebble Beach Pro-Am victories have come by a margin of two strokes or greater. Just this past February, Mickelson recorded his latest PGA Tour victory at this very course. With a 7-under final round of 65, the 12-time Ryder Cup participant bested England’s Paul Casey by three strokes.

Suffice to say Mickelson has plenty of fans cheering him on come Sunday, which ironically enough will be his 49th birthday. One such fan is the widely known, and respected, Jim Nantz who predicted Mickelson to win this year’s U.S. Open.

Back in January when he spoke with Golf Channel, Nantz stated “I think [Phil]’s gonna win at Pebble… I want to put that on the record right now. I think Phil is going to win the U.S. Open.”  With the storyline seemingly writing itself, fast forward nearly six months and Mickelson is hitting a hole-in-one at Nantz’s backyard replica of Pebble Beach’s par-3 7th hole.

Course history, celebrity endorsements, and backyard aces aside, while Mickelson may not be the best off the tee his short game precision is well documented. The shorter the club the better for ‘Lefty’ and with the reports of thick rough, small greens, and pinpoint placement with your wedges a near unanimous necessity, Mickelson already has a leg up on the competition.
The Last Word
At 49-years young by weeks end, Mickelson will rely on his precision, short game success, and valuable history at Pebble Beach to become the sixth golfer to complete the career grand slam in what may be Lefty’s best opportunity remaining to check off one more legendary feat in an already storied career.

Main Photo

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’totrcHoIQH9-1aYwBG61lQ’,sig:’jvIrFDfVZYIrEQQDaWGAq92PTTGSlarfX7YzlOCQfno=’,w:’594px’,h:’408px’,items:’1128947348′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});The post Mickelson eyes Career Grand Slam at Pebble Beach appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Brooks Koepka Survives to Capture Fourth Major Championship

FARMINGDALE, NY– Brooks Koepka once again is in a familiar spot. In the illustrious winner’s circle of being a major champion. But getting his fourth major championship would not be an easy task. Bethpage Black showed why it’s one of the toughest major championship venues in America. Koepka started to miss fairways and Dustin Johnson roared from behind back into contention. But Brooks Koepka, despite struggling down the stretch, would make the critical shots the final few holes to survive and secure his fourth major championship in his last eight appearances. With the win, Brooks becomes the first player to win his first four major championships in two years or less. And become the first golfer to be the back-to-back champion of the PGA Championship and U.S. Open simultaneously.

But most of all, Koepka is solidifying himself as the premier millennial golfer, dominating in the tournaments that matter most.

“This was my most satisfying major win,” said Koepka after the round. “I’d challenge anyone to go out and play in these conditions, they were brutal. That was so exciting to get this done.”
Brooks Koepka’s Steady, Consistent Play Shines in Final Round
The final round was all about survival and outlasting the competition for Brooks Koepka. With Bethpage Black showing it’s difficulty and punitive nature, Koepka’s strategy was simple. Put the ball in play, try to make birdies and don’t get a big score.

There were moments where the final round could have gone awry. Brooks Koepka bogeyed the first hole and his playing partner, Harold Varner III, got a birdie that resulted in a two-shot swing. Dustin Johnson, starting the day seven back of Koepka, shot three under on the Front 9, to go within four shots of the leader. It was the third time in the past two years where Koepka and Johnson were near the top of a major championship leaderboard; the previous two occurred at the 2019 Masters and last year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.

But when the winds started to swirl and the conditions became difficult at Bethpage, Koepka started to waver. With four consecutive bogeys on the Back 9, Koepka’s seven-shot lead was evaporated to one. Dustin Johnson, who was walking off the 15th green with a birdie, was starting to feel the momentum and the belief that he can snatch this major championship from Koepka. But bogeys on 16 and 17 put Johnson out of contention, paving the way for Brooks Koepka to survive and outlast the field. For Dustin Johnson, who was first in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Proximity to the Hole Around the Green, he believes his game is in great shape to be competitive at future major championships.

“I really like the state of my game. I’ve been playing well all year,” said Johnson. “But unfortunately, just didn’t roll in the putts to get it done.”

For Koepka, it was all about getting to a finish line. Despite only converting 42 percent of fairways, Koepka made the ones he needed to the most, on 15 and 16. On the 72nd hole, his wedge shot to within 10 feet for the win, which he sank, epitomized the toughness and mental fortitude needed to secure a major championship.

“That was a stressful round of golf,” said Koepka. “The wind was up, DJ played well. He put pressure on me to play solid golf.”
Brooks Koepka Put on Major Championship Pedestal All By Himself
Bend but don’t break. That has been the mantra for Brooks Koepka all throughout his career. While his American peers were having success on the golf courses that exemplify affluence and status, Koepka was grinding his way on the European Challenger Tour. At one moment in Scotland, Koepka considered leaving the game of golf altogether. He was playing golf in 15 different countries, often staying in less than modest accommodations. He had driven through the night, survived a flat tire and only had 90 minutes of sleep before teeing off.

But this adversity, these tough conditions to overcome made Koepka a more complete player. He learned valuable lessons about never giving up and always being tenacious. This made him win on the European Challenger Tour, which eventually led to a PGA Tour card and an opportunity at stardom. For years, the golf world was focused on the rise of Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. When Brooks Koepka’s name was brought up, it was never given any credibility. Not after his first U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills. Or his back to back U.S. Open win at Shinnecock.

But his ability to win the PGA Championship at Bellerive, with Tiger Woods charging, as well as at Bethpage Black, with Dustin Johnson on his heels, puts him on a major championship pedestal all on his own. Those who doubted or criticized Koepka now are silent. It is that constant skepticism that fuels Koepka and has allowed him to become the best golfer in the world.

“Going the route that I did, it toughened me,” Koepka said. “It was a blessing in disguise.”
Brooks Koepka Becomes World No. 1
With Sunday’s PGA Championship victory, Brooks Koepka once again reclaims the title of World No. 1. He is tied for the fourth-most major wins before turning 30, behind only Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Ben Hogan.

Before Brooks Koepka, the last player to win back to back PGA Championships was Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods would intimidate opponents but also handle the emotions of adverse moments. With Brooks Koepka’s performance at Bethpage, he enters that conversation as not just the number one golfer in the world, but also the game’s most clutch golfer in the big moments.

“My belief is great right now,” said Koepka. “I’m playing great and am super confident. I did not have my best but to be able to hang in there, right the ship, and refocus, allowed me to win today.”

Most golfers would have completely quaked under the magnitude of the moment. Brooks Koepka may have blinked but he never fully collapsed. The time is now for Koepka to continue to dominate, entering his name into the conversation of one of the greatest golfers of all time.The post Brooks Koepka Survives to Capture Fourth Major Championship appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Brooks Koepka Opens PGA Championship Defense with 63

FARMINGDALE, NY– Brooks Koepka doesn’t seem too affected by the PGA Championship date change from August to May. Whenever the phrase “major championship” predicates a particular tournament, it perks Koepka’s attention. These are the events where the three-time major winner unleashes his complete, powerful game.

The PGA Championship defense could not have started more impeccably for Koepka, who fired a seven-under 63 to take a four-shot clubhouse lead and set a new course record. For Brooks, this is business as usual for someone who has been at the top of his game the last year.

When asked what his favourite hole was at Bethpage, Koepka candidly responded: “All seven I birdied today.”

That’s a golfer who is in the zone.
Steadiness & Execution Critical for Brooks Koepka’s Opening Round Success
Playing alongside Tiger Woods, who is coming off his historic victory at The Masters, is no easy task. Except for Brooks Koepka. Last year at the PGA Championship in St. Louis, when the gallery of Bellerive Country Club was rooting for Tiger, Koepka’s laser focus and stellar shot making got him to the PGA Championship winner’s circle.

While Tiger Woods would experience a roller-coaster in his opening round of 72, Koepka exemplified unwavering steadiness and execution. With the rest of the field experiencing the immense, punitive difficulty of Bethpage Black, Koepka was steadfastly solid. Among his competitors, Koepka is first in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (6.543), Strokes Gained: Approach to the Green (4.261) and Strokes Gained: Putting (3.189). His 14 of 18 greens in regulation (77.8 percent) and 9 of 14 fairways hit (64.3 percent) demonstrated that when Koepka is firing on all cylinders, he is going to shoot low scores. And in major championships, when the stage is large and the expectations are high, it is where Koepka performs superbly.
It’s Early, but Brooks Koepka Is Not Slowing Down
At The Masters, Brooks Koepka was in the driver’s seat to win his first Green Jacket and fourth major in eight appearances. But hitting his tee shot in the water on the par-3 12th, paved the way for Tiger Woods to claim his 15th major championship.

While initially disappointing, it does not falter Koepka’s motivation and belief that he can still compete in major championships.

“It’s just golf, there’s nothing to rebound from,” affirms Koepka. “Second
place, it’s not fun, but at the same time you’ve just got to move on. It’s in the past. I could care less what happened last week or a couple years ago. It’s all
about this week.”

Even with the success Koepka has had in major championships, propelling him to a brief stint at World No. 1, there still is room for more universal respect from golf fans worldwide. Despite winning two majors last year, Koepka was still not listed in the world’s most dominant athletes. But over time, it is clear Koepka is accepting his persona and is less inclined to put his guard up towards the same media who disrespected him for years.

“I think you’ve got to find a chip or you’ve got to find something to motivate yourself and give you that extra little something going into a tournament or going into an event, whatever it might be, to really want to push
you over that line,” said Koepka.

If you don’t like or doubt Koepka’s abilities, it is at your own risk. With his sixth consecutive round at the PGA Championship in the 60’s complete, it is hard to imagine Brooks Koepka not in the mix for the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday afternoon.The post Brooks Koepka Opens PGA Championship Defense with 63 appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Tiger Woods struggles in Opening Round

The reigning Masters champion and 15-time Major winner Tiger Woods got out to a slow start Thursday at the 101st PGA Championship. No stranger to New York’s Bethpage Black, Woods won wire-to-wire here at the 2002 U.S. Open and was the only player out of 156 to finish under par that year. Thursday Woods marked up his scorecard with everything from bogeys and double bogeys to birdies and even an eagle.
A difficult opening nine
Starting out on the difficult 502-yard par-4 10th hole Thursday, Woods went right off the tee for his first drive of the day. With fairways at a premium this week he was forced to lay-up from 201 yards out. A third shot over the green led to an eventual double bogey to open Woods’ quest for a record-tying 82nd PGA victory.

After four straight pars, the four-time PGA Championship winner bounced back with a birdie at the par-4 15th. A dialed in approach left Woods with a 15-footer which he rolled home with precision. Unfortunately, that was the last of the good news over his opening nine.

There was nothing positive coming out of the par-3 17th. Woods’ opening tee shot found the greenside bunker before he again flew it over the green with his second. While he was finally on the green with his third shot, he still had over 37 feet to go. Two strokes later the 43-year old carded another double bogey and a drop to 3-over par.

A routine par stopped the front nine bleeding for the time being. Woods took his opening round turn with a 38 and still plenty of work ahead of him.
From good to great to worse
In a tale of two nines, Woods came out of the gate at the turn on a mission. At the 430-yard par-4 1st hole he fired a 295-yard drive again down the right side into the rough. This time he was able to get out and send home a 14-foot putt for birdie to work his way back to 2-over.

Seemingly working out the kinks over the first half of the round Woods went back to back with another birdie at the short par-4 2nd hole. A picture perfect approach left Woods with just a little over three feet left with his third shot. From there

If back to back birdies wasn’t enough to ignite the crowd Tiger certainly lit the fuse at the 517-yard par-5 4th hole. With a 298-yard drive, Woods launched a 220-yard approach to 31 feet. From there he settled in over his putt for three, sent it reading the left break and straight into the heart of the cup as the crowded roared Tiger back to life with an eagle to soar to 1-under par.

The crowd quickly quieted after bogeys at five, seven and eight brought the roller-coaster round all the way back to 2-over par. As he turned in his scorecard, playing partner Brooks Koepka finished 7-under for the early commanding lead giving Woods and the rest of the field a lot of ground to make up Friday.

Main Photo

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’9MNQCLn2QmhhGDjbn1ZLhw’,sig:’NwsaLrmywFyfJ6zRHhd9L6859QRqXyDn5qaxWEyeNiM=’,w:’594px’,h:’405px’,items:’1149577015′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});The post Tiger Woods struggles in Opening Round appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Last Word on Golf Roundtable: PGA Championship Predictions

This week’s roundtable of predictions by Last Word on Golf’s talented group of writers tackles the 2019 PGA Championship. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf team make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your PGA Championship picks and predictions.
Favorite Underdog
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Paul Casey (50 to 1)

The last Major memory golf fans have of Paul Casey is a missed cut at The Masters. Despite that, in 13 starts this season Casey has not only made the cut in 10 events but in each of those has finished no worse than a tie for 25th. Half of his made cuts were all top-10 performances including his latest start at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago with a tie for 4th. The Englishman currently sits 17th in Driving Accuracy and could finesse his way around the treacherous Black Course.

Brenden Martin (@brendenmartin28)- Henrik Stenson (70 to 1)

Bethpage Black is a narrow course. You have to be accurate, especially off the tee. Stenson is ranked 7th on Tour in driving accuracy and has been in the mix in previous majors.

Brandon Eisenman (@BrandonEisenman)- Rory McIlroy (12 to 1)

McIlroy needs to have solid drives off the tee and hit as many fairways as possible to have a chance to contend. The former PGA winner may have a tough time at Bethpage this week, but look for him to be in contention as the weekend nears.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Patrick Reed

With such a strong field this week this was the toughest prediction to have much confidence behind. While it’s true the last time the PGA Tour played Bethpage Black, Patrick Reed found victory but the 2018 Masters champion has had a tough 2019. He has yet to break through to a top-10 finish this year and has missed the cut twice in his last six starts. Additionally, Reed currently sits 169th in Driving Accuracy, 132nd in Greens in Regulation Percentage, and 126th in Total Putting; all stats you want with you, not against you at the PGA Championship.

Martin- Jordan Spieth

Spieth has been inconsistent with his play for the last few years and has struggled in key moments since he was a Major champion. He’s a great person, but he needs to regain his confidence and his game.

Eisenman- Jason Day

Day has played great golf all year long so far. However, Bethpage is one of the toughest courses in the country and he may have trouble making par on many holes. With his performance last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Day comes into this week looking to contend. But, he will miss the cut and fall in the rankings.
2019 PGA Championship Runner-Up
Walton- Tommy Fleetwood

There’s a gut feeling inside that says a European is going to make a run this week. The adverse weather conditions and thick rough set up perfectly for someone like Fleetwood to take advantage. Last week the Southport native made a strong run at the Betfred British Masters finishing tied for 8th. The 28-year old has made the cut in his last seven PGA Tour Major appearances and could take home his first Major victory this week in Farmingdale.

Martin- Tiger Woods

What Masters hangover? This is one of the greatest players in history and he has returned to glory. Watch him make a run on Sunday in his legendary red shirt.

Eisenman- Brooks Koepka

Koepka won the PGA Championship in 2018 with four solid rounds of play. Bethpage Black is a tough course to play on, but Brooks knows what it takes to contend for another major victory. Being paired with Tiger Woods this week should give Koepka a challenge as he seeks another win on the TOUR this season.
2019 PGA Championship Winner
Walton- Dustin Johnson

The 2016 U.S. Open champion is due for another Major victory so why not this year at the PGA Championship. Thus far this season Johnson has teed it up in 11 events featuring 11 made cuts, seven top-10’s and a victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship. The top-ranked golfer in the world nearly pulled off a comeback victory at the Masters but had to settle for a tie for second. Look for DJ to take advantage of his length off the tee and his continued Strokes Gained success to come home with the coveted Wanamaker Trophy this year.

Martin- Brooks Koepka

Koepka, of course, has a history of winning this tournament and has played well going into it. It will be close and not an easy course to play, but Koepka should be playing with a ton of confidence this week.

Eisenman- Tiger Woods

Woods comes into the PGA Championship searching for another major win. The 2019 Masters winner reclaimed his title of being one of the best golfers in the world with the win at Augusta in April. Tiger leads the PGA in reaching the green in regulation at 72%. Solid drives and nice shots on the green could land Woods his next major win.

Main Photo

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’n_W8Vrq1ROlfCA9rnCWZ8Q’,sig:’0s8bv4cq0zqMdvFCT3NtsrJ4cwYSXWbyQUTjsJdGQbI=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’1022682988′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});The post Last Word on Golf Roundtable: PGA Championship Predictions appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


Categories

w88