Shinnecock Hills proved its might over the weekend as thousands flocked to Southampton for the 118th United States Open. The course, hosting its fifth men’s championship in its illustrious history, nearly broke the world’s best golfers, especially on Saturday, as strong wins and an abundance of sun turned greens and fairways lightning fast.
Officials from the United States Golfing Association, perhaps reliving the nightmare scenario from 2004, the year Shinnecock last hosted the Open when greens turned nearly unplayable over the weekend, softened the course overnight heading into Sunday’s final round. Brooks Koepka, the tournament’s 28 year-old defending champion, emerged once again as a major champion with a final-round 68 to finish with a 72-hole score of 281, or 1-over par. It was just the fifth over-par finish by a U.S. Open champion in four decades, and just the third repeat champion since 1950.
Koepka outlasted an early charge by Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who finished second after he shot a 63 to tie the record for the lowest round ever in the U.S. Open. Koepka also held off Dustin Johnson, his playing partner on Sunday and the top-ranked golfer in the world, who closed with a par 70 in the final round to finish two strokes off the lead.
Koepka acknowledged how difficult Shinnecock played during the week, but never made it much of an issue either, and with his victory earned $2.16 million from a purse of $12 million.
Sag Harbor Express photographer Michael Heller watched from the ropes at Shinnecock on Sunday.