Brooks Koepka successfully defends his US Open title
Fleetwood had threatened to come from nowhere to claim his first major when he posted a brilliant 63 while Koepka still had 11 treacherous holes to negotiate. But, alongside his obvious raw power, the 28 year old was nerveless on the greens and deserved to join Ben Hogan (1950-51) and Curtis Strange (1988-89) as the only players in the last 75 years to complete a successful defence.
Only at the difficult 18th did he falter, where he missed the green with his approach. But, two strokes ahead following an impressive birdie at the 16th, he took his medicine with a bogey five to win by a shot from Fleetwood with a final round 68 and a one over par total.
For Fleetwood, there were shades of last year since he put up a stout challenge when playing alongside Koepka, before settling for a tie for fourth place.
The 27 year old Englishman began the day six shots off the lead and with a simple message of intent: ‘I told myself, go out and shoot the greatest round in the tournament’s history and see what happens.’
Goodness, how close he came to just that. Literally, a couple of inches, in fact. As he stood over a 9ft birdie putt on the 18th, Fleetwood knew he needed to hole it to become not just the first man to shoot 62 in a US Open but any major championship staged in America. Given the first one was staged in 1895 and there have been nearly 300 in total, a landmark moment for the sport had moved into view.
Fleetwood composed himself. The putt had to be struck firm if was to hold its line but he undercooked it a fraction up the hill, and it drifted to the right.
Fleetwood closed his eyes in disappointment because he knew what was at stake at the time – and how crucial it would prove at the end – but he still had so much to be proud about.
As it was, he became only the sixth man to shoot 63 in a US Open, joining the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Miller on that mark.
It was the lowest round posted at a US Open at Shinnecock by two strokes, and sits nicely alongside the course record 63 he shot last year at Carnoustie – the site of The Open next month.
‘I suppose if I had the chance to go back I’d hit the putt a bit harder, because I knew what it was for in terms of history,’ said Fleetwood. ‘But I made so many good putts before it I can’t have too many complaints. It was a great round of golf.’
Whatever happened to Saturday’s unplayable course, you might wonder? Having made it too hard one day, the hapless organisers went somewhat the other way with soft greens and relatively kind pin positions.