Tiger Woods looking to study Portrush in preparation for Open

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Tiger Woods admits he will have plenty of homework to do ahead of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

Woods saved his best until last with a final round of 69 in the US Open at Pebble Beach, with the Masters champion recovering from four bogeys in the first six holes with six birdies in the remaining 12.

The 43-year-old is currently not scheduled to compete again until the final major of the season next month and has never played the course which returns to the Open rota for the first time since 1951.

“I’ve only played (Royal) County Down, I’ve never been up to Portrush and I’m looking forward to getting up there and taking a look at the golf course and trying to figure it out,” Woods said after finishing in a tie for 21st.

“I hope that my practice rounds are such that we get different winds, especially on a golf course that I’ve never played, to get a different feel how it could play for the week.

“And I’ll definitely have to do my homework once I get there.”

Woods did not play between his victory at Augusta National and the US PGA Championship at Bethpage, where he missed the halfway cut and trailed playing partner Brooks Koepka by 17 shots after 36 holes.

However, when asked if he would play between now and the Open, the former world number one added: “I’ll play at home, yeah.

“I know that Florida will not be the same temperature as Northern Ireland. I’m not going to be practising with any sweaters at home, but it will be nice to get to Portrush and get with it again.”

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Winners and losers from the US Open as Gary Woodland and Brooks Koepka shine

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Gary Woodland claimed a remarkable first major title with a commanding victory at Pebble Beach on Sunday.

The American carded a closing 69 to finish three shots clear of Brooks Koepka to claim victory at the US Open, the year’s third major.

Here, we look at the winners and losers from California.

GARY WOODLAND
Finished: Winner

The 35-year-old from Kansas withstood the stubborn challenge of Kopeka to seal a maiden major triumph.

He didn’t panic when Koepka started to fire early on Sunday, and he simply answered any doubts about his resilience and consistency, firing birdies on two of the first three holes.

While some drives began to tail away from the intended target on the 12th and 13th, he used his short game to push himself back into formidable positions, most notably on the 14th and 17th.

His overall performance was outstanding, and his birdie on the 18th to get to 13-under and beat Tiger Woods’ commanding 2000 score by one shot was top class.

BROOKS KOEPKA
Finished: Runner-up

While the Florida man failed to win his third successive US Open title, he proved his brilliance all weekend, staying in the hunt for large spells before producing an iron-like performance on the final day.

Despite applying the pressure on Woodland, his final round 69, which included five birdies and two bogeys, wasn’t enough.

Winning three US Open titles would have been one of the great stories in golf, but he didn’t quite do it.

However, two wins and two runner-up finishes in his last four major events is spectacular all the same.

JON RAHM
Finished: T3

The likes of Xander Schauffele and Chez Reavie were also in contention for this pick, but Rahm shades it.

The Spaniard glided around the course with aplomb, shooting rounds of 69-70-70-68 to finish on seven-under par in a tie for third place and for his best finish at a major yet.

Building on his stunning 2018 campaign, the only way is up for the Barrika native, with crisp driving and consistent putting at the heart of what is an exciting and ferocious game plan.

It’s only a matter of time before Rahm clinches a first major.

LOSERS

JUSTIN ROSE
Finished: T3

There’s no doubt Rose had a solid weekend. It was his best finish at the US Open since winning in 2013, but the downside is that he had chances to put Woodland under pressure and didn’t deliver.

One shot back on Sunday, the Englishman couldn’t get his putter firing and struggled to a three-over 75, six strokes behind Woodland in a tie for third.

He suffered back-to-back bogeys on the 12th and 13th, whereas one other bogey on the 15th added salt to his wounds and punctured his overall ability to contend.

Back to the drawing board it will be and, with a T2 finish at last year’s Open Championship, Rose will be hoping for an improved display when he arrives at Royal Portrush for the final major of the year next month.

TIGER WOODS
Finished: T21

The 15-time major winner fired 15 birdies over the four rounds, just two less than eventual winner Woodland, but the significant problem in his performance was that he fired 11 bogeys and one double.

In previous events, his two-under 282 would have been enough to contend at the top of the leadeboard (would have won in 2018 and been enough for second in 2016). But, at Pebble, low scores were more frequent.

The 43-year-old has the vast array of skills to stay in the mix on any given week, but bad moments curtailed his chance at a fourth US Open title.

RORY MCILROY
Finished: T9

The Northern Irishman’s tilt at a fifth major wilted away by the third tee on Sunday.

Five shots off Woodland entering the final round, McIlroy knew a fast start was crucial. However, a bogey on the second left him low on confidence, perhaps knowing his quest for a second US Open title would have to wait for another year.

He did manage three birides on the front nine, but a double and two other bogeys left him well out of contention, and he finished eight shots back from Woodland on five-under par.

While his T9 finish isn’t bad by any means, inconsistencies kept McIlroy from being a menace to the likes of Woodland and Koepka.

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US Open: Gary Woodland holds off Brooks Koepka to win first major title

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American Gary Woodland struggled to put into words the feeling of winning his first major title on Father’s Day after holding off the challenge of defending champion Brooks Koepka to win the 119th US Open.

Woodland carded a final round of 69 at Pebble Beach to finish 13 under par and three shots clear of Koepka, who had threatened to become just the second player to win three straight US Opens and claim an amazing fifth major victory in his last nine starts.

England’s Justin Rose was tied for the lead after a birdie on the opening hole but faded on the back nine to share third with Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele and Chez Reavie, while the expected challenge from Rory McIlroy never materialised after a double bogey on the second.

Woodland had failed to convert any of his seven 54-hole leads on the PGA Tour into a win, but the 35-year-old from Kansas withstood the stubborn challenge of Rose and early charge from Koepka to land the title and first prize of 2.25million US dollars.

Moments after holing the winning putt, Woodland embraced his mother and father behind the 18th green, while his wife Gabby was at home as she is expecting twin girls in August.

The couple lost one of the twins they were expecting two years ago and their surviving son Jaxson, who celebrates his second birthday next week, was born prematurely weighing just three pounds.

“It’s hard not being with them and I’m excited to get home and see them and have a little birthday party,” Woodland said.

“But it’s nice to have my dad here. I would not be here without him. I probably did not realise how special it all was until I became a father.”

After Koepka made a flying start with four birdies in his first five holes, Woodland responded with birdies on the second and third and twice enjoyed a three-shot lead before carding just his third bogey of the week on the ninth.

Koepka closed to within a shot of the lead for the first time with a birdie on the 11th, only to promptly bogey the next after finding sand off the tee.

Woodland was starting to feel the pressure and dropped his second shot in four holes on the 12th, but then struck what proved to be the vital blow with a stunning approach from 263 yards on the 14th which landed just over the greenside bunker and ran a few inches off the green.

From there, the world number 25 chipped to three feet and tapped in for his first birdie since the third hole and he effectively sealed victory with a sublime pitch from the corner of the 17th green which span to a halt just two feet from the hole.

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 drive on 14 was huge and then I hit a great second shot,” Woodland added.

“The idea was to play to win. I could have easily laid up but my caddie gave me a lot of confidence when he told me to hit 3-wood and that birdie kind of separated me a little bit.

“On 17 I had that shot earlier this week and it’s the second time I got it up and down. I would have taken four if I had to but it came off perfectly.”

Koepka, who has now finished first, second, first and second in his last four majors, was magnanimous in defeat, saying: “Gary played a helluva round today, props to him for the way he hung in there. It was pretty cool.

“When I was on 18 I realised I was that close to accomplishing something that has not been done in more than 100 years and that’s special, but I don’t think anybody in the world played as good as Gary did.”

Rose had relied heavily on his scrambling skills all week but was finally found out on the back nine as he dropped three shots in the space of four holes.

“I made three good saves at nine, 10 and 11 and I was right in the tournament but then just kept missing in the wrong spot,” Rose said.

“And the putter wasn’t quite as warm today as it was yesterday. It took a bit of a day off. But I felt like I had to have a day where I pieced everything together to win. It was close.

“But coming in, once momentum leaves you a little bit, it just becomes hard to grind it out.”

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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