Woodland comes through in clutch to keep US Open bid on track

Rory McIlroy

Gary Woodland remains in lead going into final round at U.S. Open

Cox called basketball Woodland's "dream and his No. 1 passion, " adding, "He was a do-everything guy on the floor - he handled the ball, shot the ball, protected the basket, made the no-look passes". With Koepka breathing down his neck from the group ahead, Woodland hit a 3-wood for the ages toward the green at the par-5 14th hole.

"I was just trying to get it over that hump there".

Koepka had a chance to apply some pressure down the stretch but missed a 9-foot birdie try on 18. Still, he stayed within range, just like he wanted, knowing that anything could happen on the back nine of a U.S. Open. 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.

"I remember the first time I beat him in golf I was 13".

"The moment really got forced on me, " Woodland recalled Sunday after the biggest win of his life.

Prior to Sunday's win at Pebble Beach, Woodland - a three-time victor on the PGA Tour - was actually 0 for 7 attempting to convert 54-hole leads into wins. Reed was fourth at the U.S. Open that followed, but has failed to finish in the top 25 in the five majors since.

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It was a amusing week trading-wise as once again I felt it impossible to commit to anyone decisively in the win market but that wasn't a bad thing in the end and knowing the course set up and which holes were scorable and which punishing was a great help. It's not the three-peat some expected, but he's faced approximately 460 players in the last three U.S. Opens and only been beaten by one.

What is it about KC-area golfers and the 17th hole at Pebble Beach? "I felt better after hitting that shot on the golf course today than I had in a long, long time".

"You knew he was going to come out those first couple holes, you can attack, and he did that", Woodland said.

Of course, it's hard to goof up a golf tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of the world's most attractive and renowned golf courses.

"I don't need to go out and chase", Koepka said after a bogey-free round.

"We just got to play golf shots and hopefully come up with one less than anyone else", said Woodland. But I think he had it figured out.

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"My dad never forced me to do anything, but if I did it - if I chose to go play catch with him or go play basketball - he was hard on me", Woodland said. Rose bogeyed from the bunker on No. 2 as Woodland birdied, and he never caught up.

Woodland, who has worked hard on his short game with renowned Yorkshire coach Pete Cowen, then put the icing on the cake by holing from 30 feet for birdie on the 18th.

The early miscues appeared to fire up the 15-time major victor, and Woods responded with back-to-back birdies but the relief was only temporary as he gave back those two shots with bogeys at seven and 12.

Winning majors is rarely straightforward and after a Woodland bogey five at nine, Koepka closed the gap to just a stroke with a birdie at the 11th.

"But you can't go firing at pins because you're going to one-hop it over the back all day".

Woods hit back with six birdies, including one at the 18th, for a two-under round, his lowest final round at a U.S. Open in a decade but still 11 back of victor.

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