In front of Gary Woodland was a 263-yard shot to the scariest green on any par 5 at Pebble Beach, especially with a US Open on the line. Behind him by one shot on the leaderboard was Brooks Koepka, the most dangerous figure in major championship golf these days. The safe shot was to lay up on the 14th and take his chances with a wedge. "The idea was to play for the win," Woodland says. With an extra boost of confidence from his caddie—Brennan Little, who was on the bag for Mike Weir in his Masters victory—Woodland delivered the shot of his life with a 3-wood that narrowly cleared a bunker, settled on the edge of the green, and set up a birdie that gave him the cushion he needed, the AP reports.
The rest was pure theater—a 90-foot pitch off the 17th green he nearly holed, a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 2-under 69, and a three-shot victory that denied Koepka's bold bid to match a century-old record with a third straight US Open. Woodland's pitch across the 17th green over a hump that checked and trickled to tap-in range effectively clinched it, taking its place with other big moments on the 17th green in the US Open such as Jack Nicklaus and his 1-iron off the pin. Needing three putts to win, Woodland finished in style. He raised both arms in the air to salute the crowd, turned toward the Pacific, and slammed down his fist. "I never let myself get ahead," Woodland says. "Once that went in, it all came out of me." Koepka had to settle for a footnote in history. He closed with a 68, making him the first player with all four rounds in the 60s at a US Open without winning.
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