Winds whip up intrigue for final round US Open

Brandt Snedeker disappointed after missed opportunity at U.S. Open AP

Brooks Koepka is congratulated by caddie Ricky Elliot.

Koepka, who entered the week ranked 22nd in the world ranking, missed four of his first six cuts to start the year, but had recently started showing signs of life. It was an unconventional route to golf's biggest stages, but the adventurous soul loved it.

The 18th hole at Erin Hills Sunday, had a special flag for the final round of the U.S. Open, commemorating the late Arnold Palmer's win at the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills.

Xander Schauffele, a rookie on the PGA Tour playing in his first U.S. Open, birdied his last hole for a 69 to tie for fifth at 10-under 268 along with Bill Haas (69) and Rickie Fowler (72), who was poised at yet another major to win only to fall back.

Matsuyama tied for second with Brian Harman of the United States who shot an even-par 72 on Sunday, giving up his 54-hole lead. With rounds of 67-70-68-67, Koepka equaled the scoring record in relation to par set by Rory McIlroy in 2011 at Congressional Country Club.

Only McIlroy and Tiger Woods had previously finished double digits under par in the game's toughest test, while no runner-up had ever managed such a total.

The muscular American, who started the day one back of overnight leader Brian Harman, was on the charge out of the gate collecting birdies on the opening two holes at a windswept Erin Hills. "Yeah, I don't get those very often", Stricker said.

Li, who turned professional at age 16 and won the Volvo China Open past year on the European Tour, said he started pressing in the third round.

"It gives you a good grounding", Fleetwood said.

Mullinax shot 68 on Sunday to tie for ninth at 8 under, eight shots behind victor Brooks Koepka.

Unlike most of the field, Koepka had prior experience in competitive play at Erin Hills. It was only his second appearance in a U.S. Open, the first coming in 2015 at Chambers Bay where he finished tied for 27th. Seven players already have reached 10 under or better this week - Koepka, Harman, Thomas, Fleetwood, Fowler, Charley Hoffman and Matsuyama.

A day on from shooting a record-breaking nine-under 63, Justin Thomas went round in 75 to finish tied-ninth, while Patrick Reed (74) also failed to challenge. Smiles are rare at a U.S. Open when a player finishes before the leaders tee off. He was only two behind when he made the turn, but bogeys on the 12th and 15th holes — and no birdies until No. 18 — ended his hopes.

Matsuyama's 66 was the best score on a windy final day, one better than Koepka. The strongest gusts were Sunday morning and it tapered to a strong breeze by the afternoon.

Matsuyama responded with birdies on the par-3 16th and par-5 18th to post a number, but it wasn't quite enough. Of all his birdies, that 8-foot par putt might have been as big as any.

"To go over there, I think it helped me grow up a little bit and really figure out that, hey, play golf, get it done, and then you can really take this somewhere", he said.



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