American Brooks Koepka equalled the US Open’s lowest winning score of 16 under to claim his first major at Erin Hills.
Koepka had three successive birdies from the 14th to match the total set by Rory McIlroy when he won in 2011 on a par-71 layout compared to this par 72.
His five-under 67 was only bettered by Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama who posted 66 to tie for second on 12 under with overnight leader Brian Harman (72).
England’s Tommy Fleetwood, shot a level-par 72 to end fourth on 11 under.
The 26-year-old from Southport, playing in just his second US Open, was unable to keep pace with playing partner Koepka on the front nine.
The pair started Sunday’s final round one off the lead but Koepka holed three birdies in his first eight holes, while Fleetwood followed a birdie on the second with three bogeys in his next six holes for a five-shot swing.
Fleetwood, ranked 33rd in the world, steadied his round with a birdie on the ninth and returned to 11 under by picking up another shot on the par-five 14th and then parred his final four holes.
“I didn’t play how I wanted to,” he said on Sky Sports. “You never know how you’re going to react being up there in the final round – you’ve got to deal with that and it’s all new for me.”
However, he was quick to praise Koepka who becomes the seventh first-time major winner in succession. “He was brilliant, the shots he hit down the stretch, you can’t describe how hard some of them are,” Fleetwood continued.
“He was phenomenal – I would’ve like to have played like that. It was windy and he shot five under, fair play.”
How did Koepka win the title?
BBC Radio 5 live’s Jay Townsend said in commentary that Koepka only seriously got into golf after being involved in a car accident at the age of 10.
Townsend added: “As a result, he was banned from playing contact sports and that’s how he seriously got into golf. It was kind of by accident.”
The 27-year-old from Florida who turned professional in 2012, had won twice on the European Tour and just once on the PGA Tour before this win, which earns him $2.1m (£1.6m).
Koepka opened his final round in perfect fashion with birdies on his opening two holes. Another followed on the eighth and he battled hard after dropping a shot on the 10th, holing a 10-foot par-putt on the 13th before effectively winning the title with his birdie streak from the 14th.
The statistics show that he won with a combination of power and accuracy from tee to green on the 7,845-yard course, the longest in major championship history.
The fairways were the widest in US Open history and Koepka took full advantage, averaging 307 yards off the tee and hitting 88% of them across the four rounds, tied fourth overall.
“It was bombs away,” he said. “You could hit it far and the fairways were generous enough. That was a big plus for me. I’m a big ball striker. On some of these par fives I don’t even need to hit driver to get there.”
Staying on the fairways and out of the punishing thigh-deep fescue rough helped Koepka hit the most greens in regulation, 62 out of 72.
Once on the greens Koepka said he “putted brilliantly”, although he took 1.71 putts per hole, slightly above the average for the field.
On joining the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as a US Open winner, he added: “To be in the same category as some of the guys on this trophy is unbelievable. This is truly special, it really is.”
What of the world’s best?
For the first time since world rankings were introduced in 1986, the top three, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, all missed the cut at a major.
The only men in the world’s top 10 to significantly challenge a leaderboard dominated by players chasing their first victory at a major were Matsuyama and American Rickie Fowler and both of them are also yet to win one of golf’s big four prizes.
World number four Matsuyama started six shots behind Harman and he started quickly with three birdies in five holes. Five more followed on the back nine but two bogeys proved costly.
Fowler started two back and birdied the first but the world number nine did not threaten the lead at any point and costly bogeys on the 12th and 15th holes saw him finish on 10 under par after a 72.
The 28-year-old ended tied for fifth with fellow Americans Bill Haas and Xander Schauffele and was satisfied with a seventh top-10 finish at a major.
“If you look at the negatives too much, you’re going to be stuck doing that the whole time,” he reasoned.
“You have to measure success in different ways, not just by winning, just because that doesn’t happen a whole lot. You kind of have to say, ‘Hey, it’s a major.'”
American Jordan Spieth, winner in 2015, closed with a three-under 69 to finish on one over.
The 22-year-old, ranked fifth, was pleased with his tee-to-green play but conceded he was “not comfortable” on the greens all week and has “work to do with the putter”.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia is world number seven and the Spaniard had a solid, if unspectacular, week in Wisconsin. A two-under 70, followed by two 71s and a 72 returned a four under par total.
Rest of the Brits
Eddie Pepperell was the only one of the six other Britons to make the cut to finish the day better than he started it.
The 26-year-old, playing in his second US Open, carded a one-under 71 to improve to five under.
Paul Casey, who was in a four-way tie for the lead at halfway on seven under par, saw his challenge effectively end with a three-over 75 on Saturday. A quiet finish with just the two bogeys saw the 39-year-old end on two under.
Scotland’s Martin Laird also went backwards, closing with a 73 to finish the tournament as he started, on level par.
Matt Fitzpatrick of England was next best on one over after posting a four-over 76 that featured six bogeys, one double bogey and four birdies.
Compatriot Andrew Johnston dropped five shots in five holes on his front nine but rallied with a couple of birdies on the back nine as he closed with a three-over 75 and two over total.
Lee Westwood finished his 18th US Open with a four-over 76 to end on seven over.
Published at Mon, 19 Jun 2017 00:13:23 +0000
The gender prize money gap in sport is closing with more sports than ever achieving parity at the top level, a BBC Sport study has found.
Other sports that do not reward male and female competitors equally according to the study are cliff diving, ski jumping, darts and snooker plus some cycling events. Women are allowed to enter the world championships in darts and snooker but also have their own separate competitions.
It is the second time BBC Sport has carried out the global study, for which 68 sports’ governing bodies were contacted with 55 responding. The first one was in 2014. That study showed 30% of sports rewarded men better than women.
The 2017 study, which looked at prize money for world championships and events of an equivalent standard, does not include wages, bonuses or sponsorship. It found that 44 sports pay prize money, of which 35 pay equally.
Of the sports in the survey, men and women compete alongside each other in horse racing and equestrian events. Women do not compete in the winter sport called Nordic combined, and men do not take part in synchronised swimming at the top level.
The victorious cricket team will receive £470,000 – up from the £47,000 winner’s cheque Australia were given in 2013. There will also be £15,500 given per group-match win.
But the winning men’s team at the 2019 World Cup will still be awarded six times as much prize money – £3.1m.
Clare Connor, chair of the ICC women’s committee, said there was a commitment by the ICC to pay equal prize money by 2032.
“These things don’t happen overnight. Sports are on their own individual journeys and as a team sport we’re at an exciting time too,” she told BBC Sport.
“There will be a strategic plan to ensure that the game can deliver equal prize money in 15 years.”
Regarding the increased prize money for the upcoming Women’s World Cup, she added: “The most important thing is, it gives recognition and a really strong message where the women’s game is globally now – the appetite to watch it, broadcast it and for more and more players to aspire to play at the top level.
“It is a sport which is progressing quickly and with the frequency of ICC global events, there’s a lot to play for, and reward and recognition for the players.”
Female golfers are among the highest earners in elite sport but they receive less than half the prize money of their male counterparts at majors, although the gap is closing.
The Women’s British Open in Scotland in August will hand over £487,500 to the winner – up from the £298,000 American Mo Martin was given at Royal Birkdale in 2014. The Southport course hosts the men’s Open in July and whoever tops the leaderboard on 23 July will receive £1.175m.
Ivan Peter Khodabakhsh, chief executive of the Ladies European Tour, said he was still striving for parity in prize money.
“We are extremely proud of the significant strides which have been made in redressing the gender imbalance in prize money across the whole of sport over the last three years,” he told BBC Sport.
“Knowing the reality in the market, however, I would question that 80% of sports have equal prize money. We believe there is still a significant gap between the treatment of men’s and women’s events. More needs to be done from a social perspective to improve the perception of women’s sport and the financial rewards.”
European Solheim Cup captain Annika Sorenstam said women’s golf was “doing a good job” but that players would continue to “work hard” to address the disparity.
She added: “Sport is a mirror of the business world. Unfortunately a lot of women in the business world don’t always get paid the same as a man in the same role. We just have to continue to fight for it and hope they pay by performance and not by gender.”
She also stressed it was important to consider the impact of sponsorship, which can be higher in men’s sport because it features more prominently on television.
Tennis was the first sport to pay equal prize money when the US Open started doing so in 1973 after campaigning from Billie Jean King and eight other female tennis players. By 2004 Athletics, bowls, skating, marathons, shooting, and volleyball all paid equal prize money.
Since 2004, a further 12 sports have starting doing so with squash, surfing and all World Championship cycling events achieving equality in the past three years.
Surfing pays out the same overall prize money to the men’s and women’s WSL Champions. Prize money for individual events in the league is based on the number of competitors involved, which means the men’s events award more because more men are competing.
England’s former world squash number one Laura Massaro has benefited from squash’s decision to reward male and female players equally from this year and said sports women should be vocal in their fight for equality.
“It frustrated me that we played the same number of games and put in the same amount of training and effort as the men but because we may have been perceived as playing at a slightly lower level to the men we weren’t paid the same,” the 33-year-old told BBC Sport.
“To see that come good now after pushing for the women to be a part of the World Squash Association and growing the sport together as equals has been a real bonus.”
Massaro, who in March became the first English woman for 66 years to win a second British Open title, wants more women to speak out. “There’s a responsibility for the top women in the world to really push the level of earnings up,” she said. “You need to ask for the same money as the men and believe you’re worth it.”
Football remains one of the sports where, although the pay gap has closed, there are still big differences in the prizes for men and women.
There is currently no prize money in the Women’s Super League, while the Premier League winners, Chelsea, received £38m this year.
Real Madrid’s men pocketed £13.5m for their Champions League win over Juventus, while defending champions Lyon took home £219,920 after defeating Paris St-Germain in the Women’s Champions League final.
Published at Sun, 18 Jun 2017 23:00:24 +0000