Published: Mon, June 17, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Woodland holds nerve to claim U.S. Open

Woodland holds nerve to claim U.S. Open

Gary Woodland denied Brooks Koepka's bold bid at history with two clutch shots and made U.S. Open memories of his own, starting with that silver trophy in his hands at Pebble Beach. That said, the course is still a daunting masterpiece with its tiny greens and thick rough and was enough of a test to identify the best players of the week.

The victory was Woodland's first major championship.

Woodland had failed to convert any of his seven 54-hole leads on the PGA Tour into a win, but the 35-year-old from Kansas withstood the stubborn challenge of Rose and early charge from Koepka to land the title and first prize of 2.25million U.S. dollars.

Woodland finished the week without a single three-putt, an unbelievable feat at a U.S. Open. It even got the attention of Nicklaus.

It takes a lot to move the sports needle in basketball-crazed Lawrence, Kansas.

Woodland had that it abundance, along with a message from an inspirational friend. With a marine layer blocking the sunshine, and no significant wind at Pebble Beach all week, 31 players finished under par. He was gracious and encouraging to Amy Bockerstette, a 20-year-old with Down Syndrome and sheer optimism. Woodland invited her to play the par-3 16th, and Amy hit into a bunker, blasted onto the green and made the par putt, all the while saying, "You got this".

Ahead on the 18th, Koepka's 3-iron went just over the back of the green, leaving him a chip for eagle to tie, with a birdie likely to do the trick considering what Woodland faced.

And then just for good measure, he rolled in a birdie putt on 18 from fully 30 feet!

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The PGA Tour tweeted out the video that has since gone viral with nearly six million views.

He missed the fairway on 13, 14 and 15 and saved par each time, but there was no piercing-perfect gap wedge, a la the 10th hole at the PGA at Bethpage two months ago, and there were no holding off Tiger Woods and all those cheers, a la the PGA at Bellerive previous year.

Koepka didn't make it easy, keeping the pressure on Woodland until the very end. The reigning champ hit a low of [2.2] but a bogey followed at the par three 12th and Woodland put distance between him and the rest again when he birdied the par five 14th after this remarkable approach. He raised both arms in the air to salute the crowd, turned toward the Pacific and slammed down his fist.

"I didn't really think about it until I was done on 18 and realized how close I actually was to kind of, I guess, not making history, but kind of tying it", he said. "I'm playing pretty good, I'm comfortable with my game, we're at Pebble Beach for the US Open so should be pretty exciting".

T3. Jon Rahm (-7): Four rounds under par at a U.S. Open should be affirmation that Rahm has shaken the reputation of a player that's going to let nerves and frustrations get the best of him in championship golf.

"It was awesome to come this close to going three in a row. It's incredible", Koepka said.

It was a amusing week trading-wise as once again I felt it impossible to commit to anyone decisively in the win market but that wasn't a bad thing in the end and knowing the course set up and which holes were scorable and which punishing was a great help.

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