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Saturday 17 November 2018

Koepka eyes up a Pebble Treble after US Open defence

Brooks Koepka holds up the Golf Champion Trophy after winning the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Southampton, N.Y. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Brooks Koepka holds up the Golf Champion Trophy after winning the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Southampton, N.Y. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

It has already been labelled the 'Pebble Treble', but Brooks Koepka has his sights on more than just a remarkable third straight victory in the US Open.

Koepka became the first player to successfully defend his title since Curtis Strange in 1989, when a nerveless display on the back nine at Shinnecock Hills saw him hold off the thrilling challenge of Tommy Fleetwood, whose closing 63 equalled the lowest score in tournament history.

Only Scotland's Willie Anderson has ever won the US Open three years in succession (1903-1905), a feat Koepka will try to emulate at Pebble Beach next year.

"I've played it once," said Koepka, who finished in a tie for eighth in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2016. "It's an incredible golf course.

Excited

"You can get caught up in the views there, just looking around. I know it's a year away, but I'll be excited when we go play there.

"To be honest with you, I don't putt that well on poa (annua grass), so it will be quite interesting. I struggle reading the poa greens. The consistency, they bounce a little bit.

"That's kind of why I don't play the west coast that much, I struggle with it. But I'll be raring to go that week and hopefully defend it again."

Koepka's recent form in the US Open now reads an impressive 4-18-13-1-1 and he has also recorded two top-10 finishes in both the Open Championship and US PGA, with a best of T11 in the Masters, an event he was forced to miss this year due to injury.

"I think my game is suited to all the majors," Koepka added. "A US Open is always going to be a tough test of golf. I enjoy that, that's fun. The Open Championship, I think, suits very well, and we always seem to play good at the PGA. The only one I haven't figured out is Augusta. Hopefully I figure that one out soon.

"I don't want to say I didn't think I could win another Major, but I knew that it was going to be that much more difficult and it's much more gratifying the second time.

Koepka has been tipped for the top since winning three tournaments on the Challenge Tour in 2013 to earn instant promotion to the European Tour, although the third victory was in serious danger of never happening.

Tired during a long stretch on the road, Koepka almost withdrew after the third round of the Scottish Hydro Challenge in Aviemore.

But after speaking to his agent he decided to play the final round and won by three shots to collect the first prize of £30,000. His two US Open victories have each been worth £1.6 million.

Koepka's wrist injury kept him on the sidelines for four months, a hugely frustrating time spent with his left arm in an elbow-length cast and watching lots of television.

"I didn't miss it (golf) until I knew I wasn't going to be at Augusta," the new World No 4 said. "I missed the preparation. I missed the competitiveness.

"I think the only people I ever saw were Dustin (Johnson), seeing him quite a bit back home, and Bubba (Watson) and Phil (Mickelson). Those are the only guys that texted me. You make a lot of friends out here."

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