2017 U.S. Open Golf Championship Review
Steeped in history, the 2017 U.S. Open Golf Championship was the 117th edition of the famous golf event. The tournament was contested at Erin Hills, Wisconsin and this was the first US Open to be played at the venue. The 2017 U.S. Golf Championship took place between the 15th and 18th June.
As a new venue for such a prestigious event, all eyes were on the course before the tournament started was there was controversy surrounding the rough. Two days prior to the start of the U.S. Open, the United States Golf Association took the decision to cut the heavy rough from four holes, after players posted images of themselves knee-high in fescue. Their reasoning was that bad weather would make it unplayable.
With some of the widest fairways seen in recent U.S. Open tournaments, both Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth were surprised by the move and players were expected to score low. However, two players who would not be competing for the $12 million purse were Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. It was the first major in which neither player competed for 23 years and although Mickelson is sure to return, will we ever see Tiger Woods compete at the U.S. Golf Championship again?
Defending champion Dustin Johnson started the event as the preferred contender but was off the pace from the first round. Erin Hills was the longest course used in U.S. Open history but Johnson joined McIlroy and Jason Day in struggling around the course during the first round.
Instead it was Rickie Fowler who took the clubhouse lead after the first round, scoring a record seven under par on his opening 18 holes of the tournament. Fowler, thanks to a bogey free round, held a one-shot lead over Paul Casey and Xander Schauffele who tied for second place. Out of the big-name players, only Spieth produced a solid round of golf but remained well adrift of the leaders on one over par.
Perhaps the highlight of the first round was the run of six straight birdies by Adam Hadwin. The Canadian shot four under par to finish tied for seventh place after the first round.
The second round saw some big-name casualties as Johnson, McIlroy and Day failed to recover from their poor first round efforts. For the first time since the introduction of the official world rankings, the top three players in the world missed the cut at a major tournament.
This certainly opened the tournament for the remaining players and four finished joint top of the leaderboard come the end of day two. Paul Casey, who was struggling on four over par, produced a remarkable run of five straight birdies to keep himself in contention. Rickie Fowler dropped three shots in succession to fall to six under, while Brooks Koepka enjoyed four birdies on the front nine, to earn a share of the lead along with Tommy Fleetwood and Brian Harman.
The third round of the 2017 U.S. Golf Championship saw plenty of low scoring. With wet weather over night, the conditions had calmed down nicely by the time the players took to the Erin Hills course. Justin Thomas produced a stunning round of nine under par 63 to propel himself up the leaderboard and into tied second place. Thomas set a new US Open record for a round in relation to par.
However, it wasn’t good enough to move to the top of the leaderboard and Harman posted a score of 67, which was good enough to give him an over-night lead of one shot, with Thomas, Fleetwood and Koepka all in second place.
The final round was dominated by one man, Brooks Koepka. Having started the day one shot off the lead, birdies on the opening two holes soon placed Koepka on top of the leaderboard. Three straight birdies from holes 14 to 16 saw the American open a lead which none of the chasing pack could overturn.
In fact, no one really came close to competing with Koepka, who, as predicted by many before the start of the tournament, tied the U.S. Open scoring record to finish on sixteen under par for the tournament. Outside of the champion, the outstanding performer of the day was Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who produced a round of five under to finish tied for second alongside Brian Harman at twelve under par.
In a tournament which became wide open following the elimination of the top three players in the world, it was Brook Koepka who took full advantage to become the 2017 U.S. Open Champion.