PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Gary Woodland held off charges from former champions Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka and fired a tremendous final-round 69 to win the 119th U.S. Open. The victory is Woodland’s first major championship and comes after he held both the 36-hole and 54-hole leads in the tournament.
Those looking for drama on Sunday afternoon didn’t get it as Woodland not only avoided bogeys on his final six holes but carded two birdies, including a 30-foot putt on 18 that was the perfect capstone to his tournament and moved him to 13-under par, one stroke better than Tiger Woods’ score of 12-under from 2000. Woodland’s four bogeys over the course of this year’s U.S. Open tie for the fewest at the event in the last 50 years.
Prior to Sunday’s win at Pebble Beach, Woodland — a three-time winner on the PGA Tour — was actually 0 for 7 attempting to convert 54-hole leads into wins. He also held the 36-hole lead at the PGA Championship in 2018 at Bellerive en route to Koepka’s win and played his final round that year with Tiger Woods as he thrilled the crowd with a 64 on Sunday. Those experiences allowed Woodland to grow more familiar with championship-level golf in pressure situations, and it no doubt helped him deliver when it was needed on Sunday at Pebble Beach.
Two shots down the stretch defined Woodland’s calm under pressure. The first came at the par-5 14th as Woodland took aim at the pin from 265 yards out on his second shot to set up a birdie that would extend the lead.
The next came after a miss from the tee at the par-3 17th. Woodland had to chip the ball from just off the green to a tight spot on the other side of the hourglass green complex. He delivered with a perfect shot to save par and keep his championship effort alive.
Woodland is 35 years old but has been surging with some of his career’s best golf here in the last two seasons. Pebble Beach was friendly to those who had their accuracy in check and Woodland answered the challenge with 73 percent of fairways hit and 72 percent greens in regulation across 72 holes of championship golf conditions. This win changes Woodland’s life, and the recent form suggests that he’s capable of continuing this success in the near future.
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