Nothing in Gary Woodland’s record suggested he would hold on to win the US Open at Pebble Beach. He had just two top tens in majors to his name in 30 attempts. On seven previous occasions when he’d held a 54 hole lead, he’d lost it every time.
He was up against Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose, who’d won three of the last six editions between them. Woodland, however, played like the favourite rather than the underdog.
While Koepka mixed brilliance with a couple of silly errors, and poor Rose struggled yet again with his iron play, the 35 year old from Kansas kept his composure admirably to win his first major with an accomplished display filled with craft and resolve.
Gary Woodland held his nerve on the final day at Pebble Beach to win the 2019 US Open and his first major championship
Woodland punched the air in celebration after pulling off a sublime birdie putt on the 18th and winning the silverware
Woodland tips his hat to the masses, who rose as one to applaud his spectacular achievements on the final day
Right up to the end it was in doubt. With Koepka standing over a birdie putt at the 18th, and Woodland in trouble at the previous hole, there was the potential for a two stroke swing that would have brought them level. But Koepka missed and Woodland played a stunning chip to snatch the par that sealed his victory. Somewhere his short game coach, Yorkshireman Pete Cowen, must have broken into a broad smile.
Woodland finished in style, holing from 30ft on the 18th for a 69 and a three stroke success. Koepka, therefore, fell just short in his pursuit of history, and his bid to become the first man in over a century to win this title three years in a row. But what an effort from the Floridian, who shot 68. In the last four majors, he has now finished 1-2-1-2.
Five holes from home, Rose’s race was finally run, as he fell four shots behind Woodland. If truth be told, it was an amazing effort to keep going for so long.
From day one his ball striking, usually the strength of his game, was poor. Time and again he kept the mistakes at bay, compiling one-putt statistics that were simply off the charts. It defied all known lore at the US Open, which is supposed to be about hitting fairways and greens, that he went into the last eight holes just one behind. But it couldn’t last, and bogeys at the 12th and 13th, followed by a Woodland birdie at the 14th, ended his gutsy effort.
Rose and Woodland pictured locking horns on the seventh hole of the Pebble Beach course on Sunday
It was an inconsistent start by Rose, despite opening with a birdie and Woodland stretched his lead to two shots
England's Rose went out in the final group of the fourth round in pursuit of the second major title of his career
Rose reacts in dismay after seeing a putt