PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (Reuters) – Brooks Koepka showed he is fallible after all, four straight bogeys to start the final round costing the American any chance of winning the British Open on Sunday.
Koepka has rightly earned a reputation as a machine in the majors over the past two years, winning back-to-back U.S. Opens and PGA Championships and becoming, unarguably, the world number one in the process.
Victory at Royal Portrush would have capped off one of the great major seasons, after he finished equal second (Masters), first (PGA Championship) and second (U.S. Open).
But after struggling to hole putts over the first three rounds, he needed something of a minor miracle on Sunday, starting the day seven shots adrift of overnight leader Shane Lowry, who went on to record an outstanding triumph.
“I probably hit four of the worst shots I’ve hit all week,” Koepka said of his bogey, bogey, bogey, bogey start.
He battled on gamely, eagling the par-four fifth and shooting a most respectable three-over-par 74 in the difficult conditions.
“Played good this week, so obviously disappointing, not the finish I was looking for,” said Koepka, who finished joint-fourth at six-under 278, nine strokes behind runaway winner Lowry.
“It becomes, I guess, a battle to try and figure it out and try to improve on it next year. It was a great run for three (majors) and then this one, nothing you could do.
“Props to Shane, he played unbelievable golf. How cool is that to win in Ireland?”
As much as Koepka wanted to lift the Claret Jug, once it became obvious that it was not going to happen he re-set his sights on runner-up, but it was not to be.
“I would have liked to have just made a few more (birdies) and finished it off with a bunch of second places,” he said.
If Koepka was disappointed, his playing companion J.B. Holmes must have been positively mortified.
Holmes teed off in third place, six strokes behind Lowry, yet it was to prove anything but elementary for the man from Kentucky.
He shot 87, the worst score of the day by seven strokes.
His card revealed one birdie, six bogeys, four doubles and one triple.
Had Koepka, or Holmes for that matter, won the tournament, it would have been the first time since 1982 that Americans had swept the majors.
(Writing by Andrew Both; Editing by Ian Chadband)