"I always believed I would be in this moment", Woodland said Sunday night, the silver U.S. Open trophy at his side. Specifically, Woodland has found success at the PGA Championship in recent years, but his play at the U.S. Open was superb.
Woodland showed nerves of steel to claim a memorable three-stroke victory at Pebble Beach, denying two-time reigning champion Brooks Koepka on Sunday.
THREE-PEAT: Brooks Koepka shot his second straight 69 to finish at 4 under.
Woodland, who was tipped up before the off by Dave Tindall in the each-way column at 70/1, was generally a [110.0] chance before the off, but he was matched at as short as [1.8] when he went three clear after Rose bogeyed the eighth. After a year at Washburn University, he transferred to Kansas on a golf scholarship. Ten minutes later, Woodland became the fifth, thanks to a par save courtesy of a chip off the 17th green that almost went in, then a 30-foot birdie on 18 for the final dagger. But I felt like I had to have a day where I pieced everything together to win.
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Woodland candidly admitted that as a child he never stood over a putt imagining it was a win, let alone the National Open or a Masters.
McIlroy's five-under-par total, after a one-over 72, left him eight adrift. He thought of his wife and son back home. But that's the way he saw that particular hole being played and, in fairness, he was three under there over the four rounds - his most profitable hole on the course.
Woodland took time to acknowledge the role his own dad played in bringing him to this point, as well as the perspective he's gained in both his family's loss and its growth.
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Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open victor, expected to be the main challenger to Woodland, faded after an opening birdie and ended with a 74 to be Tied-third alongside Xander Schauffele (67), Jon Rahm (68) and Chez Reavie (71). Rose needed scores to hang in contention with Woodland and Koepka on the back nine but turned in three bogeys and six pars.
"When I was done on 18, you kind of realize, 'Wow, I was just that close,"' Koepka said.
Koepka wasn't the only player making ground early on as McIlroy's six at the second effectively ended his final-day hopes scarcely before they had begun.
Others who finished near the top of the leaderboard included Justin Rose in a four-way tie for third, as well as Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen in a tie for seventh place.
He missed the fairway on 13, 14, and 15 and saved par each time, but there was no piercing-perfect gap wedge, a la the 10th hole at the PGA at Bethpage two months ago, and there was no holding off Tiger Woods and all those cheers, a la the PGA at Bellerive previous year. He birdied four of his first five holes and went from -7 to -11 very quickly.
Let's get the golf out of the way first.
Woodland finished the tournament at 13-under.
And though Koepka will have to wait another month before going for major No. 5, at the British Open at Royal Portrush, his résumé didn't take too bad a hit.