PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Heading into the weekend at Pebble Beach, Brooks Koepka’s bid for three-peat is alive and well.
Koepka put together another solid effort at the U.S. Open, carding 2-under 69 for the second straight day. He trails Justin Rose by three shots. With a portion of the U.S. Open record book already devoted to him, Koepka on Friday became the first defending champ to break 70 in each of the first two rounds since Scott Simpson in 1988.
It was enough to bring a smile to the face of the two-time defending champ, who is looking to become the first player to win this event three years in a row since Willie Anderson from 1901-03.
“I feel great, I’m excited. I’ve got a chance,” Koepka said. “That’s all you can ask for. I just need to make a few more putts. Sometimes the hole just needs to open up.”
Koepka’s putter went a little cold during the second round, when he found 15 greens in regulation but carded just three birdies. Koepka came here off a pedestrian T-50 finish last week in Canada and admitted he was hitting it poorly in his early-week prep at Pebble. He’s been able to rectify that aspect over the first two days – not during range sessions, but during his actual competitive rounds.
“I was striking it just a little thin, and this range doesn’t quite help,” Koepka said. “The turf on the range is a little firmer, a little tighter than it is on the golf course. And it’s been easier to find my game actually on the golf course. I feel like I can really hit down on the ball, come in a little bit steeper than on the range.”
Koepka was tied for the 36-hole lead in 2017 at Erin Hills, but last year at Shinnecock he found himself five shots behind Dustin Johnson at the halfway point. Having turned both of those previous positions into major victories, he’s content to be in the mix heading into the weekend, without yet having flashed his best stuff along the California coast.
“I’m pretty pleased. I’d have taken 69 before I started,” Koepka said. “I hit some good putts. Some didn’t go in, but I struck it beautifully. And if I strike it like I did today and hole a few more putts, I should be just fine."