Roberts Holds Early Advantage in NY

By Associated PressJune 27, 2008, 4:00 pm
Champions TourEAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- Loren Roberts made a 45-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to cap a 6-under 65 that gave him a one-stroke lead over two golfers with a special relationship after Fridays opening round of the Commerce Bank Championship.
 
It was the second straight year Roberts, who is fourth on the Champions Tour money list, held the first-round lead of the 54-hole event played on the Red Course at Eisenhower Park.
 
And befitting a summer Friday on Long Island, there was quite a traffic jam behind him on the leaderboard.
 
Gene Jones and Greg Hickman, who has caddied for Jones on the Champions Tour, had 66s to share second place in the $1.6 million tournament.
 
Defending champion Lonnie Nielsen was among five players at 67, while former PGA TOUR stars Ben Crenshaw and Nick Price were in a group of nine, another stroke back. Twelve players finished at 69.
 
Roberts, the defending Charles Schwab Cup champion, birdied Nos. 15 and 17 with putts that totaled 5 feet, well off the distance that ended his round.
 
I hit a 6-iron from 183 yards and then made a bomb on 18, said Roberts, whose next longest birdie putt was from 10 feet, on the par-3 5th. I turned a so-so round into a very good round with that finish.
 
Last year, Roberts lead after the opening round was one stroke over Eduardo Romero, who had a 67 on Friday, and two over Nielsen, who went on to his first victory on either the regular of senior tour.
 
When told of the similar start from last years tournament, Nielsen smiled broadly.
 
I hope it is, he said. I played some good golf today and obviously Loren had a beautiful day. I left a couple out there but I feel like Im in for a good week.
 
Hickman, who competed in 58 events in a brief PGA Tour career in the early 1990s and has been a caddie for several players on the Champions Tour, birdied his 16th and 17th holes of the day to get within a stroke of the lead. This was his third Champions Tour start this season with a tie for 56th at the Cap Cana Championship in April and a missed cut at the Senior PGA Championship in May. He qualified for this event this week.
 
I was a caddie off and on for 10 years and as a caddie youre always thinking golf, he said. Then (the tour players) talked me into coming out. I hadnt played in 12 days before coming here.
 
Jones, who has three top-10 finishes this season including one in the Senior PGA Championship, said Hickman had agreed to caddy for him this week if he didnt make the field.
 
I was coming down 18 and saw Greg was one off the lead and one in front of me, Jones said. I said to my caddie, `Wouldnt it be great to birdie the last hole and play in the final group with my caddie. I hit an 8-iron to about 10 feet and made it and well be playing with Loren.
 
Joining Nielsen and Romero at 67 were Mark McNulty, Keith Fergus and Brad Bryant.
 
None of the top seven scorers in the first round, including Roberts, has won a tournament this year.
 
Im trying to win. Ive been second three times and just havent been able to get there, said Roberts, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour and seven-time champion since joining this tour in 2005. Last week I played good and Jeff Sluman played awesome and he won the tournament. The whole idea is to get the win.
 
Today I had good patience and I havent had that at times this year but Ive been working on that the last few weeks.
 
Divots
 
Bruce Fleisher and Jim Thorpe, both two-time winners of this event, both opened with a 70 as did Sluman, who won for the first time on this tour last week at the Bank of America Championship. Peter Jacobsen returned to competition for the first time since undergoing knee replacement surgery in March. He had a 77, tied for 75th place in the 78-player field. Hey, I broke 80, he laughed. The winners purse is $240,000. Fifty-four players were at par or below with the field averaging 70.75 on the county-owned public course.
 
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    U.S. Open purse payout: Koepka clears $2 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 12:09 pm

    Brooks Koepka successfully defended his title at the U.S. Open and he was handsomely rewarded for his efforts. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Shinnecock Hills.

    1 Brooks Koepka +1 $2,160,000
    2 Tommy Fleetwood +2 $1,296,000
    3 Dustin Johnson +3 $812,927
    4 Patrick Reed +4 $569,884
    5 Tony Finau +5 $474,659
    T6 Daniel Berger +6 $361,923
    T6 Henrik Stenson +6 $361,923
    T6 Tyrrell Hatton +6 $361,923
    T6 Xander Schauffele +6 $361,923
    T10 Justin Rose +7 $270,151
    T10 Webb Simpson +7 $270,151
    T12 Matthew Fitzpatrick +8 $221,825
    T12 Zach Johnson +8 $221,825
    T12 Russell Knox +8 $221,825
    15 Kiradech Aphibarnrat +9 $190,328
    T16 Paul Casey +10 $163,438
    T16 Haotong Li +10 $163,438
    T16 Hideki Matsuyama +10 $163,438
    T16 Louis Oosthuizen +10 $163,438
    T20 Rickie Fowler +11 $122,387
    T20 Brian Gay +11 $122,387
    T20 Charley Hoffman +11 $122,387
    T20 Dylan Meyer +11 $122,387
    T20 Steve Stricker +11 $122,387
    T25 Aaron Baddeley +12 $79,200
    T25 Bryson DeChambeau +12 $79,200
    T25 Jason Dufner +12 $79,200
    T25 Branden Grace +12 $79,200
    T25 Russell Henley +12 $79,200
    T25 Charles Howell III +12 $79,200
    T25 Francesco Molinari +12 $79,200
    T25 Alex Noren +12 $79,200
    T25 Matthieu Pavon +12 $79,200
    T25 Ian Poulter +12 $79,200
    T25 Justin Thomas +12 $79,200
    T36 Rafa Cabrera Bello +13 $54,054
    T36 Bill Haas +13 $54,054
    T36 Brian Harman +13 $54,054
    T36 Pat Perez +13 $54,054
    T36 Gary Woodland +13 $54,054
    T41 Sam Burns +14 $43,028
    T41 Ryan Fox +14 $43,028
    T41 Patrick Rodgers +14 $43,028
    T41 Jhonattan Vegas +14 $43,028
    T45 Patrick Cantlay +15 $34,716
    T45 Marc Leishman +15 $34,716
    T45 Scott Piercy +15 $34,716
    T48 Ross Fisher +16 $27,952
    T48 Jim Furyk +16 $27,952
    T48 Luis Gagne (a) +16 $0
    T48 Phil Mickelson +16 $27,952
    T48 Matt Parziale (a) +16 $0
    T48 Brandt Snedeker +16 $27,952
    T48 Peter Uihlein +16 $27,952
    T48 Tim Wilkinson +16 $27,952
    T56 Dean Burmester +17 $25,426
    T56 Mickey DeMorat +17 $25,426
    T56 Tyler Duncan +17 $25,426
    T56 Chris Naegel +17 $25,426
    T56 Jimmy Walker +17 $25,426
    61 Calum Hill +18 $24,629
    62 Andrew Johnston +19 $24,448
    63 Brendan Steele +20 $24,203
    64 Cameron Wilson +21 $23,959
    65 Kevin Chappell +22 $23,714
    66 Will Grimmer (a) +23 $0
    67 Byeong Hun An +26 $23,470
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    What's in the bag: U.S. Open winner Koepka

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 11:24 am

    Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills. Here's a look inside the winner's bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70 TX shaft

    Fairway woods: TaylorMade M2 Tour HL (16.5 degrees), with  Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 TX shaft

    Irons: Nike Vapor Fly Pro (3), with Fujikura Pro 95 Tour Spec shaft; Mizuno JPX-900 Tour (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts, PW with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shaft

    Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 Raw (52, 56 degrees), SM7 Raw TVD (60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron T10 Select Newport 2 prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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    Repeat U.S. Open win gives Koepka credit he deserves

    By Ryan LavnerJune 18, 2018, 2:08 am

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In an ironic twist Sunday, the last man to win consecutive U.S. Opens was tasked with chronicling Brooks Koepka’s final round at Shinnecock Hills.

    Carrying a microphone for Fox Sports, Curtis Strange kept his composure as the on-course reporter. He didn’t cough in Koepka’s downswing. Didn’t step on his ball in the fescue. Didn’t talk too loudly while Koepka lined up a putt.

    Instead, Strange stood off to the side, clipboard covering his mouth, and watched in awe as Koepka stamped himself as the best U.S. Open player of this next generation.

    And so after Koepka became the first player in 29 years to take consecutive Opens, Strange found himself fourth in the greeting line near the 18th green. He was behind Koepka’s playing competitor, Dustin Johnson. And he was behind Koepka’s father, Bob. And he was behind Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott.

    But there Strange was, standing on a sandy path leading to the clubhouse, ready to formally welcome Koepka into one of the most exclusive clubs in golf.

    “Hell of a job, bud,” Strange barked in his ear, above the din. “Incredible.”

    That Koepka prevailed on two wildly different layouts, and in totally different conditions, was even more satisfying.

    Erin Hills, in Middle of Nowhere, Wis., was unlike any U.S. Open venue in recent memory. The wide-open fairways were lined with thick, deep fescue, but heavy rain early in the week and the absence of any significant wind turned golf’s toughest test into the Greater Milwaukee Open. Koepka bashed his way to a record-tying score (16 under par) and over the past year has never felt fully appreciated, in large part because of the weirdness of the USGA setup.   


    U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


    Koepka doesn’t concern himself with that type of noise, of course, but when he arrived at Shinnecock earlier this week he felt a sense of familiarity. The generous fairways. The punishing venue. The premium on iron play.

    “It’s a similar feel,” Elliott said. “We said it all week.”

    A new, quirky venue like Erin Hills might not have been held in high regard, but the rich history of Shinnecock? It demanded respect.

    “He’s some player,” Strange said, “and I’m proud of him because there was some talk last year of Erin Hills not being the Open that is supposed to be an Open. But he won on a classic, so he’s an Open player.”

    “This one is a lot sweeter,” Koepka said.

    Those around the 28-year-old were shocked that he even had a chance to defend his title.

    Last fall Koepka began feeling discomfort in his left wrist. He finished last in consecutive tournaments around the holidays, then underwent an MRI that showed he had a torn ligament in his left wrist.

    Koepka takes immense pride in having a life outside of golf – he never watches Tour coverage on off-weeks – but he was downright miserable during his indefinite stint on the sidelines. He said it was the lowest point of his career, as he sat in a soft cast up to his elbow, binge-watching TV shows and gaining 15 pounds. The only players he heard from during his hiatus: Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.

    “You just feel like you get forgotten,” Koepka said.

    During the spring, Elliott would occasionally drive from Orlando to Jupiter, Fla., to check on his boss. “He was down in the dumps,” he said. “That sort of injury he had, it didn’t seem like there was going to be an end. There was no timeframe on it, and that was the most frustrating thing.”

    After the Masters, Koepka told Elliott that his wrist was feeling better and that he was going to start hitting balls. Elliott brought his clubs to South Florida, and they played a few holes at The Floridian.

    “He was hitting it right on the button,” Elliott said. “I said, ‘Are you sure you haven’t been practicing?’ He hadn’t missed a beat. I have no idea how he does it. He’s just a tremendously talented guy.”

    In limited action before the Open, Koepka fired a trio of 63s, at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial. He’s never been short on confidence – as a 12-year-old he once told his dad that he was going to drop out of school in four years and turn pro – and he recently woofed to swing coach Claude Harmon III that he was primed to win sometime in May or June.

    “I said to him on the range this morning, ‘You were on your couch in January and February, not really knowing if you were going to be able to play here,’” Harmon said. “I think that’s why it means so much to him. That’s one of the reasons that he kept saying no one was more confident than him, because to get this opportunity to come back and play and have a chance to win back-to-back U.S. Opens, he was going to take advantage of it as best he could.”

    Koepka carded a second-round 66 to put himself in the mix, then survived a hellacious third-round setup to join a four-way tie for the lead, along with Johnson, the world No. 1 and his fellow Bash Brother.

    As much as Johnson is praised for his resilience, Koepka has proven to be equally tough in crunch time, especially in this major. There’s no better stage for Koepka to showcase his immense gifts than the Open, an examination that tests players physically, mentally and even spiritually. But Koepka, like Johnson, never joined the growing chorus of complainers at Shinnecock. The closest he came to criticizing the setup was this: “I think the course is very close.”

    Rather than whine, he said that he relished the challenge of firing away from flags. He accepted bad shots. He tried to eliminate double bogeys. Even after his wrist injury, Koepka showed no hesitation gouging out of the deep fescue, his ferocious clubhead speed allowing him to escape the rough and chase approach shots near the green, where he could rely on his sneaky-good short game.

    “He has the perfect game to play in majors,” Harmon said. “He probably plays more conservatively in majors. We’re always joking that we wish he would play the way he does in majors every week. I just think he knows how important pars and bogeys are. It says a lot about him as a player.”

    Johnson has many of the same physical and mental attributes, and they’ve each benefited from the other’s intense focus and discipline. They both adhere to a strict diet and are frequent workout partners, which even included a gym session on Sunday morning, before their penultimate pairing. They made small talk, chatting about lifting and how many of the Sunday pins were located in the middle of the green, but after they arrived at the course they barely said two words to each other.

    “They’re good friends on and off the course,” Harmon said, “but they definitely want to kick the s--- out of each other.”

    “That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Strange said. “If they’re best buddies, well, you’re standing between me and the trophy. You don’t care much for him for 4 1/2 hours.”

    There was much at stake Sunday, but none more significant than Koepka’s march on history. Squaring off head-to-head against the game’s best player, Koepka outplayed Johnson from the outset, going 3 under for the first 10 holes to open up a two-shot lead. And unlike at Erin Hills, where he pulled away late with birdies, it was his par (and bogey) saves that kept Koepka afloat on Nos. 11, 12 and 14.  

    In the end, he clipped Fleetwood (who shot a record-tying 63) by one and Johnson by two.

    “You’ve got to give him a lot of credit,” Strange said, shaking his head. “He’s got a lot of guts.”

    As Koepka marched away to sign his card, Strange was asked if it was bittersweet to know that he’s no longer the answer to the trivia question, the last guy to go back-to-back at the Open.

    “Heck no!” he said. “What are they going to do, take one away? I’m a part of a group. And it’s a good group. I hope it means as much to him as it has to me.”

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    This time, Dad gets to enjoy Koepka's Father's Day win

    By Rex HoggardJune 18, 2018, 1:39 am

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – When Brooks Koepka won his first U.S. Open last year at Erin Hills the celebration was relatively subdued.

    His family didn’t attend the ’17 championship, but there was no way they were missing this year’s U.S. Open.

    “This year we booked something about five miles away [from Shinnecock Hills]," said Koepka’s father, Bob. "We weren’t going to miss it and I’m so glad we’re here.”

    The family was treated to a show, with Koepka closing with a 68 for a one-stroke victory to become the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back U.S. Opens.


    U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


    Koepka called his father early Sunday to wish him a happy Father’s Day, and Bob Koepka said he noticed a similar confidence in his son’s voice to the way he sounded when they spoke on Sunday of last year’s championship.

    There was also one other similarity.

    “Two years in a row, I haven't gotten him anything [for Father’s Day],” Brooks Koepka laughed. “Next year, I'm not going to get him anything either. It might bring some good luck.

    “It's incredible to have my family here, and my dad loves golf. To be here, he loves watching. To share it with him this time, it will be a little bit sweeter.”