Gary Woodland claims first major championship at U.S. Open
Gary Woodland did not back into his U.S. Open title.
Woodland, the Topeka native who was on the University of Kansas golf team, played aggressively on the final round at Pebble Beach, California, and beat Brooks Koepka by 3 shots.
Three shots in particular were important to Woodland’s victory.
1. A 3-wood on the 14th hole
Woodland was in the lead and could have played it safe with his second shot on the par-5 14th hole. Koepka missed a birdie putt on the 15th and stayed 1 shot behind Woodland. But Woodland had birdie on his mind when he pulled out a 3-wood and crushed the shot over the front bunker. He birdied the hole and had a 2-shot advantage.
2. The chip at 17
What is it about KC-area golfers and the 17th hole at Pebble Beach? That’s where Tom Watson hit the biggest shot of his life, chipping in during the 1982 U.S. Open and sewing up a victory over Jack Nicklaus. Woodland didn’t chip in on the 17th on Sunday, but he came darn close:
3. The winning putt on 18
There was no need to be aggressive on the 18th green. Woodland could win the tournament with three putts. However, he needed just one. This was an exclamation point on a huge victory: