Long before Brooks Koepka was the U.S. Open champion, members of the South Florida golf community could tell he was destined for success.
Among them was Hall of Fame golf instructor Bob Toski, who seven or eight years ago spent about 20 minutes with Koepka’s father, Bob, watching Brooks hit balls while he was home from Florida State University.
“Bob looked at me and said, ‘This kid’s going to win majors. Plural,’ ” Bob Koepka said.
“Are you serious?”
“Trust me, I know it when I see it.”
“I’m hoping you’re dead on.”
Koepka, 27, won his first major Sunday at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, shooting a five-under-par 67 on the final round to win by four shots. His four-day score of 16-under tied a U.S. Open record.
It was Koepka’s second PGA Tour victory. He won the Phoenix Open in 2015 and also had six international wins, as well as a 3-1 record as a rookie on the winning U.S. team in last year’s Ryder Cup.
“The kid’s a champion,” Toski said Monday. “It was pretty obvious when he went on Tour it was just a matter of time as to how great he was going to be.”
Greg Sherman knew Koepka was something special during the four years he coached him at Cardinal Newman High in West Palm Beach, Fla., before Koepka graduated in 2008.
“I coached many fine players at Cardinal Newman,” said Sherman, who led teams to several state tournament appearances and is a chaplain for a provider of hospice care. “Of all the fine players, I would say Brooks was right there at the top.”
Sherman, who said he has known Koepka since the sixth grade, credited his father and his mother, Denise Jakows, for their son’s success.
“I can’t say enough about how Bob and his wife and Denise have really supported him,” Sherman said. “He’s really matured a lot and he had such a positive, cool demeanor about him [Sunday]. He was very calm and collected.”
And so was his father, who watched the final round on TV.
“I had such a sense of calmness all day,” Bob Koepka said. “I woke up Sunday morning and my wife and I were talking, and I said, ‘I’ve got a really good feeling about this day.’
“He called me after his workout [Sunday morning] and I said, ‘You know Brooks, I’ve got a good feeling about today.’ I said, ‘I believe in you,’ and he said, ‘Dad, I’m feeling good, I’m real confident.’
“I said, ‘Don’t come home without the trophy, this is the one you want.’”
“That’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced,” Koepka said in a news conference after the tournament. “And to do it on Father’s Day, it’s pretty neat. I didn’t exactly get my dad a card, so this works.”
“It was a pretty good card,” agreed his father, whose younger son, Chase, is also a professional golfer. “Someone asked me if this was your best Father’s Day and I said, ‘Yes, until next year.’
“It’s cool to be a U.S. Open champ’s dad.”
Toski remembered watching Koepka hit shots at a country club, where Bob Koepka was a member.
At the time, a coach at Florida State wanted Koepka to try hitting a cut like Ben Hogan. His father, aware that Toski had known Hogan, asked him what he thought.
“When I saw Brooks hit golf shots, I said, ‘He’s a Babe Ruth, he’s a Lou Gehrig,’ ” Toski said. “I said, ‘You go back and tell your coach if he tries to change your swing, you don’t need the coach, you don’t need the team, you can just play four years in college because you’re going to be a Tour player and you’re going to be a winner.’
“Brooks did his thing, and the coach didn’t do anything.”
The baseball analogy fits Koepka, who was a three-time All American at Florida State, because his father’s uncle was Dick Groat. The 1960 National League MVP with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bob Koepka was a left-handed pitcher in college and said Brooks, who played in his first golf tournament when he was 7, was a talented shortstop, catcher and pitcher. But he gave up baseball to focus on golf when he was 12.
That has proven to be a decision with major implications.
Attention, Instagrammers: There’s still time to get those all-important selfies at the Museum of Ice Cream.
The pop-up art installation is extending its tenure in Los Angeles through Oct. 16.
Museum of Ice Cream founder Maryellis Bunn said the reception has been “phenomenal” in L.A. The museum was originally slated to stick around only through May; this will be the fourth date extension. Every time, tickets have sold out in less than 24 hours.
Bunn said she and every member of her team have been getting nonstop requests from friends and strangers for tickets. It’s led to what she called a “really disappointing” scalping situation. On Craigslist, you can buy two adult tickets for a Saturday evening — face value: $29 each — for $250.
She said her team is working to do something about that situation for the next batch of tickets, which go on sale Thursday at 9 a.m. Tickets are $29 for adults and $18 for kids 3-12 and seniors 60 and older.
If you’ve opened any social media platform at any point since the museum opened on April 22, you’ve seen what it has to offer. There’s a swimming pool of sprinkles, a banana room, a wall of hot pink phones, and gigantic popsicles sticking out of the walls and floor, among other things. Celebrities — including Beyonce and Jay-Z, the Kardashians, and Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin — have stopped by, with or without kids in tow. On Instagram, there are more than 37,000 posts tagged #museumoficecream.
“I feel like all of L.A. has come” to the museum, Bunn said. On days the museum is open, between 1,600 and 1,800 people pass through the doors.
Right now, a curated selection of California-based ice cream makers have specialty flavors on offer at the museum, including Salt & Straw and Coolhaus. The team is exploring other local creameries to add into the rotation.
The Museum of Ice Cream debuted last year in New York City. Bunn said she’s eyeing both national and international locations for the next pop-up. But for now, she’s happy to see more Angelenos enjoy it.
“We have so many visitors who are so eager to come to the Museum of Ice Cream and we’re excited to give them that,” she said.
As Rickie Fowler’s tee shot soared into the first fairway Sunday, a man yelled: “Let’s go, Rickie! Do it today, baby!”
Fowler did birdie that first hole but could get little going beyond that. His even-par 72 left him in a familiar spot, in search of his first major championship.
Yet Fowler remained Mr. Positive.
“I feel like I’m playing at the highest level,” Fowler said. “If you look at the negatives too much, I mean, you’re going to be stuck doing that the whole time.
“You have to measure success in different ways, not just by winning, because that doesn’t happen a whole lot. I think Tiger (Woods) had the best winning percentage of all time at 30%, and you’re lucky to even sniff close to 10.”
Fowler finished tied for 11th at the Masters and sounded satisfied with his 10-under total at Erin Hills.
“Even though the scores were somewhat lower than a normal U.S. Open, to finish in double digits under par at a major championship, especially the Open, it was a good week.”
Everyone got to see the Jordan Spieth they expected to see on Sunday. He scored a three-under 69 under very windy conditions. It left him one over for the tournament.
“I thought it was a fantastic round of golf, given what we were dealing with to start the day,” Spieth said. “I mean, [the afternoon wind] is light and variable compared to the beginning of the day, but that’s what you get for playing a poor first few rounds.”
Spieth said he liked the course a lot and hopes the U.S. Open comes back one day. He’s not worried about the low scores the first few rounds.
“I think anytime you’ve seen the golf courses — U.S. Open golf venues — work back toward even par, there are complaints,” he said. “Now all of a sudden they make it tough and fair, and people are 12 under, and people are complaining. So let’s pick one side or the other here.”
Scottie Scheffler walked away from the tournament with the honors of being low amateur with a final round of 73 to finish one under.
“It’s a great experience and being able to be the top amateur would definitely be very special,” Scheffler said before he knew he had the title. “The USGA always treats amateurs and their champions really well.”
One of his goals is to play in the Walker Cup at Los Angeles Country Club on Sept. 9-10. The Walker Cup is for amateurs and is played between the U.S. and Britain and Ireland.
“I think this week definitely helps a bunch,” he said. “Performing on a stage like this certainly couldn’t hurt my chances, but that’s not really up to me, it’s up to the committee and the USGA. Hopefully they’ll want me to be a part of the Walker Cup but you’ve got to play good.”
Is he a golfer?
A young fan at Erin Hills asked Xander Schauffele late Saturday if he was a golfer. Yes, but it turns out he’s not just any golfer.
Schauffele entered the U.S. Open with little acclaim but left with an invitation to the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills by tying for fifth at 10-under par.
“I think I need to play a little better for a little longer and maybe the name will stick,” he said.
The San Diego native, who attended both Long Beach State and San Diego State, said his performance is proof that “my team and I are working on the right stuff, keeping my body on the right spot. It helps to play well every once in a while to know that you’re doing the right thing and that you belong.”
A return visit
At 50, Steve Stricker would need to find the Fountain of Youth to play another U.S. Open at Erin Hills. But the Madison-area native still hopes the USGA’s signature championship returns.
“The powers that be might want to change a few things,” he said. “Maybe narrow the fairways a bit, and I’d like to see the fescue a little bit thinner, so it’s not a full-shot penalty for hitting in there.
“It’s tough when you come to a place for the first time not really knowing how to set it up, how to play it. But I thought it was great. The crowds were unbelievable.”
Brooks Koepka had just tapped in a 20-inch putt to become the 117th U.S. Open champion, and he gave it the cliched low-grade golf fist pump. Twice. That was it.
The celebration was about as muted as you’ll ever see from someone who just won his first major. His performance was anything but.
It capped a week when the biggest names vanished after two rounds, leaving on the leaderboard a collection of rarely seen names. And, boy, there were a lot of names.
But in the end, a four-hole stretch of par and three birdies made Koepka a household name. This U.S. Open wasn’t lost, it was won by a 27-year-old Florida native who had only won one other PGA Tour tournament.
“That’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced and to do it on Father’s Day, it’s pretty neat,” Koepka said. “I didn’t exactly get my dad a card, so this works.”
Koepka shot a 67 on his winning round. He had six birdies and one bogey in an exhibition of steady play. He shot under par in all four rounds at Erin Hills golf course.
The margin of victory was four strokes and the winning total was 16 under, equaling the lowest score in relation to par in U.S. Open history. Hideki Matsuyama, who shot a sizzling 66, and Brian Harman, the third-round leader, were at 12 under. Tommy Fleetwood was at 11 under and Xander Schauffele, Bill Haas and Rickie Fowler were one more stroke back.
Koepka was mostly unknown to the casual golf watcher but his athletic build and solid form have made him a favorite of those looking for the next star of their fantasy golf league. Prior to Sunday, his only PGA Tour victory was in the 2015 Waste Management Open in Phoenix. But he’s been close a lot.
His previous best U.S. Open finish was a tie for fourth in 2014.
If you live in Jupiter, Fla., and you were taking one of those childhood tests to figure out which item doesn’t belong, Koepka would have been that odd item out when talking about the community’s pro golfer population.
The city is home to 2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, 2014 Open runner-up Rickie Fowler and, of course, Tiger Woods. Koepka and Johnson even train and hang out together. Now he truly belongs.
Johnson, who didn’t make the cut, called Koepka on Saturday night.
“It was a long phone call,” Koepka said. “It was like two minutes, it wasn’t much. But he just said a few things, to just stay patient. And I’ll win if I stay patient and just keep doing what I’m doing.”
The stretch during which Koepka won this tournament started on the 13th hole Sunday. He was tied with Harman. His tee shot on the par three ended up rolling off the green and down a slope. He had about 78 feet, mostly uphill, to reach the pin. He put his second shot to within about nine feet. He made the putt.
“That par save was massive on 13,” Koepka said. “That’s the reason I had so much confidence coming down, especially with the par five coming up, knowing that I needed to birdie that.”
Koepka got in trouble again on the par-five 14th when he put his second shot in a bunker. But a brilliant sand shot put the ball to about four feet for birdie. He made the putt.
“Leaving that in the bunker wasn’t that bad,” he said. “Anywhere over there was fine.”
Actually, all he probably had to do to win the tournament was par out. He had a two-shot lead over Matsuyama, who was in the clubhouse.
But on 15, which was the toughest-playing hole on the course Sunday, he put his approach about 10 feet away for a birdie attempt. He made the putt.
And on 16, a par three, he put his tee shot 17 feet away for a chance at his third birdie in a row. He made the putt.
He had a four-shot lead with two holes to play. He parred them both.
“I played really solid from the moment we got here on Monday and all the way through [Sunday],” Koepka said. “The ball-striking was pretty solid. It had to be, especially with the wind. And I got out there with the putter a little bit [Sunday] and all week. So all around my game is pretty solid and I couldn’t be happier.”
Harman, who was playing in the final group just behind Koepka, had lost all his energy as he approached the 18th hole, where a par would have given him sole possession of second place. He bogeyed the hole.
“It bites a little bit right now,” Harman said. “But Brooks played so well today. The conditions were so tough. So you’re in the next-to-last group and you shoot the [second] lowest round of the day, that’s tough, that’s tough.”
Matsuyama had the round of the day, a six-under 66. He had eight birdies and two bogeys.
“We watched the finish in the clubhouse on TV,” Matsuyama said. “Brooks is a good friend of ours and we’re happy for him. Wish him well and congratulate him. I’ll try and beat him next time.”
The U.S. Open returns to one of its more traditional (read: difficult) courses next year when it goes back to Shinnecock Hills in the Hamptons.
Koepka won’t be anonymous. There will be expectations. But his resume will be looking a whole lot better than this year.
Justin Hayward wasn’t worried about showing his back to the audience.
Standing onstage Saturday night before a full house at the Hollywood Bowl, the Moody Blues’ frontman had just finished singing “The Morning: Another Morning” — a bouncy pop pastorale from the British band’s 1967 album “Days of Future Passed” — when he turned around and stayed that way for a minute or so, enthralled by the sound of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra as it moved through the song’s lush instrumental coda.
At least he was enjoying himself.
In keeping with recent tradition at Los Angeles’ most iconic venue, Saturday’s opening-night concert paired the formally attired orchestra (under the direction of conductor Thomas Wilkins) with a veteran classic-rock act to kick off the Bowl’s summer season.
Last year the act was Steely Dan; the year before that, it was Journey. You can see why someone thought the Moody Blues would make a good fit, but that person was woefully mistaken.
Featuring three members from the band’s late-’60s heyday — singer-guitarist Hayward, bassist John Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge — the group is on tour this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Days of Future Passed.” The album included the hits “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin,” and is widely regarded as a landmark in the development of progressive rock.
The way the band tells it, the Moody Blues — initially one of countless young English groups aping American R&B — were asked by its record company to come up with an LP combining rock and classical elements that would show off the hi-fi possibilities of the company’s new record player.
What was created was an elaborate concept piece, complete with lengthy interludes and ponderous spoken bits, tracking the progression of a single day into night. “Days of Future Passed” made stars of the dreamy-eyed Hayward and his mates, and if the album never earned the acclaim of other totems of the Summer of Love — “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” springs to mind — it’s clear that it went on to inspire further explorations of symphonic rock by the likes of Electric Light Orchestra and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
The members of the Moody Blues themselves stuck with that idea through the early ’70s before going more commercial in the ’80s (not unlike Yes and Genesis) with slick pop hits such as “Your Wildest Dreams” and “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere.”
At the Bowl, though, the main attraction was a full rendition of “Days of Future Passed,” which the band said it was performing for the first time with live orchestral accompaniment. (Elsewhere on its tour the group is playing along to pre-recorded arrangements.)
As Hayward’s reaction to “Another Morning” suggested, the sound was impressive — full-bodied but nimble, with a lively rhythmic energy that kept the strings from getting too soupy. In “Evening: The Sunset,” the orchestra added a touch of romantic mystery to the band’s spooky depiction of that moment, “when the sun goes down and the clouds all frown.”
No wonder Hayward swiveled his body several more times throughout the night to take in what Wilkins and his players were doing. This was probably the closest the Moody Blues have come to their experience recording “Days of Future Passed” with the London Festival Orchestra half a century ago.
Yet most of the album’s songs have not aged well, especially the ersatz psychedelia of “Tuesday Afternoon,” which felt far cornier than other willfully trippy visions from its era. “I’m looking at myself / Reflections of my mind,” Hayward sang, “It’s just the kind of day to leave myself behind.”
Cheap-looking visuals on the Bowl’s large screens didn’t help the music seem any less dated. It actively took away from one’s ability to enjoy the sumptuous sonics of “Another Morning.”
For a group of men in their 70s who performed hunched over their instruments, a video of balloons and little kids at play was probably a sadder, more jarring image than the band intended.
There was also the band’s lack of chemistry. Trading off vocals, Hayward and Lodge barely interacted onstage; behind them, Edge looked like he was merely pretending to play drums while the group’s hired-hand drummer, Billy Ashbaugh, did the actual job of driving the music.
A sense of real-time spontaneity might’ve prevented the concert from feeling as overblown as it did. That quality certainly did wonders last year for Steely Dan, whose members spoke to each other (and to the crowd) in a manner that made them appear in on the joke of their own grandiosity.
Not that we should’ve expected laughs from a band with a song called “Isn’t Life Strange,” to name one of several leaden ditties the Moody Blues played from albums other than “Days of Future Passed.”
Self-seriousness is one thing. Quite another is the self-parody this group flirted with by having the actor Jeremy Irons show up in yet another video to deliver those painful spoken passages from 1967.
“Coldhearted orb that rules the night removes the colors from our sight,” Irons intoned in one laughably pretentious sequence. “Red is gray and yellow white, but we decide which is right — and which is an illusion.”
It was bad enough to make you hope the Hollywood Bowl looks somewhere beyond classic rock for next year’s opening night.
At long last, Erin Hills is a U.S. Open-worthy course on Sunday.
The much-maligned site of this year’s national championship has been giving up birdies and low scores, very unlike a U.S. Open Course.
But with winds of at least 25 miles per hour, the course has gained the teeth it has been lacking all week.
Early players have been struggling as the winds have made virtually every shot more treacherous. It’s exactly how the course was designed.
Brian Harman leads at 12 under. Justin Thomas, who fired a record 63 on Saturday, and Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood are at 11 under. Rickie Fowler sits at 10 under. Si Woo Kim is alone at nine under.
The leaders will start teeing off between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. CDT (11:30 a.m.-noon PDT).
Of the early players, Jordan Spieth is one of the few that is under par for the day. He’s shooting a two under through 10 holes, putting him at two over for the tournament.
A U.S. Open short on big names and a leaderboard that at times seemed like a phonebook of random people found a bright star Saturday under a partially cloudy sky at Erin Hills.
Justin Thomas made history when he shot a 63, a nine-under-par score that was the lowest relative to par in U.S. Open history. And the 63 tied the Open mark set by Johnny Miller at Oakmont in 1973, and equaled by by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf (1980) and Vijay Singh (2003).
As good as that round was, Thomas has not run away with the tournament. In fact, he’s not even leading after three rounds.
Brian Harman has a one-shot lead at 12 under. Tied with Thomas at 11 under are Brooks Koepka and England’s Tommy Fleetwood. Rickie Fowler is at 10 under.
“I’m not sure when it’s going to sink in or when I’m going to realize what I did,” Thomas said. “I know one thing, if it happened tomorrow and the result is what I want it to be, then I’d probably have a different feeling. I’m just so excited to give myself a great chance to win this golf tournament.”
Thomas’ most dramatic moment happened on the 667-yard, par-five 18th hole when he hit his three-wood second shot more than 300 yards. The ball hit just short of the green, popped forward and rolled eight feet past the hole.
“I obviously needed to nuke it,” Thomas said of his three-wood, which he later called his best of the round. “But I just felt like I could get it up in the air enough to hold the green, as soft as they were. And it came out nicely.”
After waiting while playing partner Jonathan Randolph hit his third, fourth, fifth and sixth shots, Thomas stood over his ball for a couple of seconds and rolled it in for an eagle.
“I was excited to take the lead,” Thomas said. “I was excited to shoot 63. I had no idea that nine under was the best ever in an Open, so that was pretty cool once I saw my card. The guys at the scoring table told me that, so I was pretty pumped.”
Thomas started his record round with birdies on the first two holes. On No. 1, a par five, he was 85 feet short of the hole on his second shot and got the easy up and down. On the 331-yard second hole, his drive was 46 feet short of the hole and, again, he got up and down.
He gave back a stroke on No. 4 when his drive went into the right fescue and his second shot was over the green. He birdied the fifth with a 19-foot putt.
After parring the sixth, he had a run of three birdies. On No. 7 he sank a 15-footer. On No. 8 he put his 154-yard approach shot to about two feet. And on No. 9 he made a 21-foot putt.
He bogeyed the 10th hole when he hit a bad second shot right of the green. Then he picked up a birdie on 12 with a nine-foot putt. He drove the green on the 288-yard, par-four 15th and just missed a short eagle putt. He made a 27-footer for birdie on No. 17 before the history-making finish.
The 24-year-old Louisville native is not new to success. He won the first two tournaments of this year, both in Hawaii. In the Sony Open he became the seventh player to shoot a sub-60 round with a 59. He won that tournament by seven shots.
There were a lot of low scores Saturday. The course took an inch of rain overnight, making it about as menacing as a golden retriever puppy. Thirty-two players had sub-par rounds, the most ever for the third round of an Open.
“It was definitely conducive for good scores today,” Thomas said. “When you give us soft greens and not much wind, you know there are going to be some good scores. I was just happy that I was the one to take advantage of it today.”
Harman, who is hoping to become the first left-hander to win the U.S. Open, must have felt overlooked given Thomas’ accomplishment. But, obviously, his 67, with six birdies and one bogey, was a pretty good round.
He had a chance to extend his lead to two but missed an 11-footer for birdie on 18.
“I’m motivated by the fact that I’ve made a plan and I’ve stuck to the plan so far,” Harman said. “Obviously I have no idea what [Sunday] holds, but I’m more motivated by the way I’m striking the ball. It’s the best I’ve struck the ball in a long time. And my short game is pretty good. I’ve been putting it pretty good. So I’m excited about all those things.”
There are 15 players within six strokes of Harman, so it’s still a wide-open tournament.
“It’s going to be weird,” Thomas said about the time he has to pass before teeing off with Harman in the last group Sunday. “I don’t know what I’m going to feel tonight or if I’m going to sleep well. … But I know I’m going to be nervous, but it’s a good nervous. That’s why I play, to get myself in this position.”
One thing you can count on Sunday is that the streak of six majors being won by a first-time winner will grow to seven.
By all rights Tommy Fleetwood should be in the final grouping on Sunday with a share of the lead.
He was at 12 under having hit his second shot on the par-five 18th just 47 yards from the pin. But his chip landed short of the green on a ridge, leaving himself an almost impossible putt to hold the green. And he didn’t. It went past the hole and settled at the bottom of a collection area 70 feet away from the hole, all uphill.
Then he perhaps hit his best shot of the round to chip to three feet, leaving him an easy putt for bogey. It was his only bogey of the day to go with five birdies.
“It was a good save,” Fleetwood said. “It was a good bogey. I mean it was a really good round of golf .”
Fleetwood knows what it would mean if he were to win on Sunday.
“It would change my life,” he said. “I’ve pictured winning the U.S. Open a lot of times before. [Thinking about it] all night is not going to help and not make any difference. It’s just concentrate on each day as it comes.”
Next to Wisconsin native Steve Stricker the biggest fan favorite is Rickie Fowler. And he’s definitely in the hunt, two shots back at 10 under. He played his usual steady round with six birdies and two bogeys.
He’s also hoping he can shake the idea that he’s the best player never to have won a major.
“It’s going to be a really cool day for someone tomorrow,” Fowler said. “I’m looking forward to my shot at it and I know it’s not going to be an easy day for sure. I’ve been there a handful of times and had some good finishes. But I’m looking forward to getting the job done.
“But looking and seeing the leaderboard, there are a lot of young guys, a lot of great players. Someone has a very good chance of ending up with their first major tomorrow.”
Tough week for Spieth
Jordan Spieth said he has had an “off putting” week – in both senses.
His position (tied for 59th) fits the definition of “unpleasant, disconcerting, or repellent.”
And it’s largely as a result of his poor putting.
“I’ve been striking the ball well,” Spieth said. “It’s just been trying to figure it out on and around the greens. And I feel like once the cannon gets open, I’ll start pouring them in.”
Spieth needed 34 putts to get through 18 holes Saturday, four higher than the field average. The 2015 U.S Open champ shot 76 on a day in which his buddy and longtime junior golf foil Justin Thomas fired a 63.
If you have good control of the golf ball and if you’re rolling the ball on the greens,” Spieth said, “you’re going to play well here.”
Louis Oosthuizen was on his way up the leaderboard with six birdies — and then he got to 17. He hit his drive in the fescue on the left side of the fairway and had to punch out down the fairway. His third shot made the green and then he three-putted from 35 feet. With a double bogey, a great round became just a good round.
“Four yards to the right with that tee shot and I’m in the fairway,” Oosthuizen said. “I should have gone the safe route. But I was really swinging it well and thought I could give it a little bit more on the tee shot and have a nine-iron into the green.”
Depending how the course sets up on Sunday, it will be a tough task to make it to the top from his position at four under.
“Majors are won on the last nine holes on a Sunday,” Oosthuizen said. “If you’re within four shots on a Sunday at a major playing the back nine, you’ve got a chance of winning it. That’s when all the mental games start playing in your head.”
Talking about his stellar play Saturday at Erin Hills, Zach Johnson, the Cedar Rapids native, cracked: “My motivation was the Cedar Rapids Gazette, because they came up here when I was teeing it up on Saturday.”
That has to be fake news, right?
This is not: Until Saturday, Johnson had never bettered 69 in a U.S. Open round. That seems impossible, given that has played in every Open since 2004 — and given that his playing style is not like Bubba Watson’s, slinging shots all over the yard.
Johnson is as dependable as a John Deere mower: Fairway. Green. Fairway. Green.
So did this feel like your best round, Zach?
“I try to forget about this tournament when I get done with it,” he replied. “I’d really have to ponder.”