Brooks Koepka reacts after putting on the 12th green during the final round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Sunday, June 17, 2018, in Southampton, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The Latest: Defending champion Koepka wins another US Open

June 17, 2018 - 6:44 pm
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SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — The Latest on Sunday's final round of the U.S. Open (all times local):

6:40 p.m.

Brooks Koepka has won a second consecutive U.S. Open, the first player to do so since Curtis Strange in 1989.

Coincidentally, Strange was covering Koepka's twosome for Fox.

Koepka shot 16 under par last year at Erin Hills for his first major victory, winning by four shots. He was in a four-way tie for the lead after three rounds at Shinnecock Hills and shot 68 on a benign course for a 1-over 281 total as no player could match par.

Koepka's birdie at the par-5 16th stretched his lead to two shots over Tommy Fleetwood, who tied the U.S. Open single-round record with a 63. Fleetwood missed an 8-footer for birdie on the 18th that would have given him the record for this tournament and tied the 62 Branden Grace shot in last year's British Open for lowest round in any major.

Then Koepka parred 17 and had the luxury of making bogey at 18.

The USGA admitted Saturday it had lost a handle on the course. So Shinnecock Hills was relatively tame in the final round.

Fleetwood, who finished much earlier, wound up alone in second place at 282.

Retief Goosen was the most recent player with a good chance of repeating since Strange did it. The South African won at Shinnecock in 2004, then led by three shots at Pinehurst the next year. But he shot 81 in the final round and Michael Campbell was the surprise winner.

There have been 22 multiple winners since the U.S. Open first was played in 1895.

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4:25 p.m.

Nine holes to go at the U.S. Open and defending champion Brooks Koepka has a one-stroke lead.

Koepka is 2 under par through nine at Shinnecock Hills and 1 over for the tournament. Tommy Fleetwood is in the clubhouse with a 7-under 63, tying the record for the lowest round at a U.S. Open. Fleetwood is 2 over for the week, tied with Masters champion Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson, who are just starting the back nine.

Third-round co-leaders Daniel Berger and Tony Finau had a rough start and are up to 5 over as they approach the turn.

Shinnecock played easier on Sunday morning than in the third round, when the USGA admitted that it lost control of the course when the winds picked up in the afternoon.

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3:55 p.m.

England's Tommy Fleetwood has tied the U.S. Open record with a 7-under-63 in the final round.

With Shinnecock Hills playing far easier than in a brutal third round when the USGA admitted the course was at points unfair, Fleetwood had eight birdies and one bogey. He tied the record held by five others at 63, including Johnny Miller when he won in 1973 — the only time a 63 was shot in the Open's last round.

Fleetwood barely missed an 8-foot putt for birdie on 18. He finished at 2 over and stood one shot out of the lead as he walked off the course.

Defending champion Brooks Koepka and Masters champion Patrick Reed are tied for the top at 1 over.

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3:10 p.m.

No one is taking advantage of benign conditions at Shinnecock Hills more than England's Tommy Fleetwood.

Starting the day at 9 over par, Fleetwood reeled off eight birdies to move within one stroke of the lead held by defending champion Brooks Koepka. Fleetwood has birdies on the second, third, sixth and seventh holes — he bogeyed the ninth — and a string of four straight birdies on Nos. 12-15.

In the second round, he shot a 66 to move into contention, but then had a 78 on Saturday.

Masters champion Patrick Reed also is on a charge, making birdies on four of his first five holes to get within one shot of Koepka.

The USGA pledged to ease off the severe conditions at Shinnecock Hills and, thus far, that has been the case.

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2:45 p.m.

Defending champion Brooks Koepka has taken the lead early in the fourth round of the U.S. Open.

With Shinnecock Hills playing much easier than on Saturday, when it was a brutal test that the USGA admitted was unfair to the leaders, Koepka birdied the par-3 second to move to 2 over par.

That put him clear of four players — third-round co-leaders Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger and Tony Finau — and surging Patrick Reed. The Masters champion birdied his first three holes.

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12:30 p.m.

The USGA pledged to ease off the severe conditions at Shinnecock Hills. Rickie Fowler responded with the low round of the U.S. Open.

Fowler tapped in for birdie on the 18th hole for a 5-under 65. If nothing else, he wins most improved. Fowler was 19 shots better than his 84 in the third round, the highest score in his U.S. Open career.

Fowler played with Phil Mickelson, who shot a 69 in his 27th U.S. Open without winning. That included a par on the 13th hole, where on Saturday he swatted a moving ball to keep it from rolling off the front of the green. Mickelson was given a two-shot penalty and made a 10 on the hole. This time he raised his arms in mock triumph.

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11:30 a.m.

The U.S. Open won't be so tough on Sunday with the trophy at stake.

After the third-round conditions prompted complaints from some of the world's best players, Open officials promised to make things easier at Shinnecock Hills for the final round.

The USGA said overnight watering would reduce green speeds, and hole locations would be set up to be more accessible to players. The moves came after an uproar among players, who felt the course was unfair.

In the last 22 groups on Saturday, no one even matched par-70 on the treacherous layout.

The early results Sunday showed the move was paying off. Rickie Fowler was 5 under through 13 holes and Hideki Matsuyama was 4 under through nine holes.

Phil Mickelson was 2 under after saving par on the 13th hole, where on Saturday he purposely whacked his golf ball back toward the hole as it was rolling off the green for a two-shot penalty. Mickelson raised his arms and began a mock celebration after his par on Sunday.

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9:30 a.m.

Happy Father's Day, Vic Parziale.

Now get to work.

The retired Brockton, Massachusetts firefighter will be spending the day at the U.S. Open, carrying the bag for his son, Matt, in the final round. Matt Parziale earned a spot in the tournament by winning the Mid-Amateur, and then became the first mid-am to make the cut in 15 years.

The Parziales say they don't usually make a big deal about Father's Day.

This one is different.

"It's special," Vic Parziale said. "It's the best one ever."

Both Parziales were firefighters as their real jobs. Matt is on leave from work to play in the Open and a couple of other tournaments. Vic is retired, but quickly found work as his son's caddie.

He thinks he's got a future.

"I keep my mouth shut and carry the bag. If he asks me a question, I answer it. I haven't gotten fired yet," he said after the third round. "Can't find anybody cheaper."

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8:55 a.m.

The water hoses were out early Sunday for the final round of the U.S. Open in its attempt to slightly soften Shinnecock Hills.

USGA officials have conceded that wind and dry conditions made the third round tougher than it needed to be. Tony Finau and Daniel Berger started the weekend 11 shots out of the lead. They go into the final day tied for the lead with Dustin Johnson and defending champion Brooks Koepka.

That set the stage for a final round in which 15 players were separated by four shots.

Koepka has a chance to become the first back-to-back winner of the U.S. Open since Curtis Strange in 1989.

Among those playing early was Phil Mickelson, who purposely struck a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday.

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