Brooks Koepka captures his maiden major title at the US Open

It was a Sunday evening to remember at the 117th US Open Championship as Brooks Koepka broke away from a chasing pack with three straight birdies on the back nine, to close with a 5-under par 67, to win his first major championship.

No one was more solid from start to finish than Brooks. He opened with a pair of tap-in birdies and putted for birdie on every hole but the par 3 13th. Of all his birdies, an 8 foot par putt on the 13th hole might have been as big as any. This gave him the confidence and momentum to slot in birdies on the next three holes.

“I think that was kind of the changing point of the round for me. I needed something to go in and see that to build momentum off it, and I just carried that over,” Koepka said.

A par on the final hole tied the US Open record score to par at 16 under for a four-shot victory. He became the seventh straight first-time winner of a major championship, and it was the first time since 1998-2000 that Americans have won their national championship three straight years.

“What I’ve done this week is amazing,” said Koepka.

Brooks’ reaction was low-key, just like that of his close friend and last year’s U.S. Open champion, Dustin Johnson. They spend quite a lot of time together both on and off the course, so Koepka has seen that U.S. Open trophy plenty.

When asked about what had been going on inside his head for the closing round at Erin Hills, Brooks said that he was “just staying in the present and thinking about one shot at a time’’.

“Dustin actually called me last night and told me the same thing, just stay patient. Just keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to win the thing, and just don’t get ahead of yourself. A bunch of people told me that”, Koepka said.

Sunday capped off quite a journey for the 27-year-old Floridian. Without a card on any tour when Koepka got out of Florida State, he travelled far and wide to places such as Kazakhstan, Kenya, India and the rest of Europe, competing on the European Challenge Tour.

It was on the Challenge Tour that Brooks claimed his maiden professional victory, at the Challenge de Catalunya in 2012. This was followed up by 3 more wins the next season at the Montecchia Golf Open, Fred Olsen Challenge de España and the Scottish Hydro Challenge. These 3 wins granted Brooks a European Tour card for the 2013/2014 season.

In 2014, Brooks claimed victory at the Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour by 1 stroke over Ian Poulter. This victory along with third places finishes at the Dubai Desert Classic and the Omega European Masters saw him finish 8th in the Race to Dubai rankings and be named the European Tour’s Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.

He then went on to win on the PGA Tour, this time at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2015. This hoisted Koepka up to 19th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Another win came for Brooks at the 2016 Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan, which showed how much of a world class player he is.

Brooks’ worldwide golfing odyssey over the last few years has culminated in this US Open Victory and we could not be any prouder of him!

Stalter and Laird qualify for US Open at Erin Hills

Frenchman Joël Stalter has secured a place at this week’s US Open after coming through an international sectional qualifier in Walton Heath, on Monday 29th May.

The 24-year-old finished the 36 holes of qualifying on 11 under par, to secure a T5 finish. He had a first round of 68, followed up by a flawless 65 to secure a spot at his maiden major.

Martin Laird became the third Scot to qualify after coming through a 120 man field in Ohio Colombus. He shot a pair of 67’s at Brookside and Lakes courses to finish his on 10 under par. This was enough to give him a T4 finish, just two behind leading qualifier, JT Poston.

“It was pretty windy but shooting five-under on my front nine meant I was taking less risks on the back nine as I knew 10-under was probably pretty good,” said Laird.

Joël and Martin will join Brooks Koepka and defending champion and World Number 1, Dustin Johnson at Erin Hills to compete on this tough track.

 

Olesen & Bjerregaard claim victory at the inaugural GolfSixes

It was another successful team event for Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen, this time teaming up with Lucas Bjerregaard and claiming victory at the first ever GolfSixes event on the European Tour.

Denmark had finished second in Group A on Saturday, with them then coming out victors against France and Italy in the quarter and semi-final matches.

It was a tight final match with a birdie on the third hole, giving Australia a 1-0 lead. But it was no surprise when Denmark came back and won the final three holes to be crowned the inaugural GolfSixes champions, with a 3-1 win over Australia.

“It’s gone pretty well for me in team events recently,” added Olesen. “I don’t know if I’m a lucky charm. I feel like I’ve had good partners, as well.”

“I was hoping for a win but Lucas played great, especially these last six holes. I was struggling a little bit.

“It’s been fantastic. Team Denmark has got a lot of support, so we’re really happy with that.”

“It’s been a very intense couple of days. Feels like you’ve played 72 holes or even more. Six holes, it’s very intense match play, playing only six holes and every shot really counts.”

Congratulations to Thorbjørn and Lucas on their fantastic win!

Team Portugal

Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia and José-Filipe Lima cruised into the knockout stages of the GolfSixes with another dominant win in the second round of matches at the Centurion Club.

They had made five birdies in a 4-0 win over Wales in the first round of matches and made three more in another 4-0 victory over Australia to guarantee progression from Group C.

Unfortunately, they were beaten by Scotland at the quarter-final stages, 3-0, after the Scotsmen made two birdies and an eagle to claim victory and progress to the semi-finals.

It was a fantastic weekend for Ricardo and José and they both go on to play in their home open this week, at the Open de Portugal.

Meronk targeting Pole position in Turkey

Adrian Meronk is hoping to follow up an eye-catching performance at the season-opening Barclays Kenya Open with another strong showing at the Turkish Airlines Challenge.

The 23 year old, who hails from Wroclaw in Poland, secured a top five finish in Nairobi last month in his first Challenge Tour event since turning professional at the end of last year, a result which secured his spot in the field at Gloria Golf Resort this week.

As he walked off the 18th green at Muthaiga Golf Club, Meronk actually thought he had narrowly missed an opportunity to have won the tournament after his chip for eagle lipped out, but ultimately Aaron Rai’s extraordinary final round put him well clear of the field – not that Meronk was disappointed with his week.

“I’m very pleased with the start I had in Kenya and the way I played,” he said. “Being here in Turkey is a massive bonus for me, because of finishing well in Kenya, so I’m really happy with that and I want to take advantage of it.

“I knew I was close to winning because I could see my name on the leaderboard. I thought if I made it maybe there would be a chance for a play-off, because at that time I was playing with the leader.

“But then obviously Aaron played phenomenally on the back nine so I wouldn’t have had any chance anyway, so it didn’t really matter, but I was very emotional, a little bit disappointed because I thought it was in, but like I said I’m very pleased with my performance.

“In the past I’ve always struggled on the fourth day of the tournament just because I’m not really used to it – in the past I’ve not played many tournaments that go four days, it was all three rounds.

“It’s something I’m having to get used to and I’m very happy with the way I played last month in Kenya but especially on that last day.”

Meronk started 2017 knowing he would need to rely on invites to be sure of playing opportunities but, after such a strong start to the season, he now has high hopes for the rest of the year.

“It changed my goals a little bit,” he said. “First of all I want to secure full status on the Challenge Tour, so I want to take advantage of the very first tournaments, play well and get some points, put my name up there in the Rankings.

“After that, we’ll see – I already feel very comfortable on the Challenge Tour, I’m feeling confident after Kenya. That was my first Challenge Tour event as a pro but I’m getting used to it and I think there won’t be too big an adjustment for me.”

This is the fourth staging of the Turkish Airlines Challenge, with Gloria’s New Course once again playing host, and with all three previous winners of the event – Oliver Farr from 2014, 2015 champion Rhys Davies and last year’s winner Clément Sordet – present as a strong field assembles in Belek.

This is Meronk’s first time at Gloria but from his previous visits to Turkey, he is hopeful that this can be another week to remember.

“I’ve played in Turkey before but not at this course,” he said. “I think they’re all pretty similar and I like how they are set up so I think it will be a good week for me, I’m excited to be here.”

Article from The European Tour – http://www.europeantour.com/challengetour/season=2017/tournamentid=2017718/news/newsid=325400.html

Findagolfbreak.com announce partnership with Hurley & Meronk

Findagolfbreak.com, the ultimate one stop shop for golf holidays in Ireland, the UK and Europe, have today announced the sponsorship of talented Challenge Tour players, Gary Hurley and Adrian Meronk. Whilst playing golf around the globe this season, Gary will be sporting the Findagolfbreak.com logo on his chest of all of his apparel, while Adrian will be wearing the logo on the sleeve. Findagolfbreak.com remove the hassle from your next golf break and utilise their exclusive range of contacts in order to make your trip a truly memorable occasion. With a wide range of over 250 golf break venues all over Ireland, the UK and Europe, they can tailor a package to suit every golfers needs and wants.

Hurley, from Waterford in Ireland, turned professional in September 2015. He has been competing on the Challenge Tour since then and claimed his first professional victory at the 2016 Palmares Classic V on the Algarve Pro Tour. This was followed up by his best finish on the Challenge Tour, which came at the Montecchia Open where he finished T4. Gary finished in T45 at the Barclays Kenya Open last month and will be looking to build on that performance this week at the Turkish Airlines Challenge at Gloria Golf Club.

Commenting on the announcement, Hurley said, “I am delighted to have Findagolfbreak.com on board this year as a sponsor of both mine and Adrian’s. It means a lot to have such a successful company backing me at this early stage in my golfing career.”

Adrian Meronk is Poland’s golfing star and in October 2016 decided that it was time to join the professional ranks of the game. He made his professional debut at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last year and finished in runner up spot in the Pro-Am competition, shooting an impressive -37, which left them only 1 behind the eventual winners. In March, at the Barclays Kenya Open, which was his debut on the Challenge Tour, Meronk took a share of 5th place.

“To have Findagolfbreak.com supporting me as I embark on my professional career is an honour. They are known as the best company to go to for golf breaks in Ireland and the United Kingdom and I am delighted to be associated with such a great service provider like them”, said Meronk.

“Both Gary and Adrian are fantastic talents who represent the future of European Golf. Findagolfbreak.com is delighted to be able to support both players on their journey to the top of the game. Not only are they both fantastic golfers, but they are also admirable young gentlemen on and off the golf course which is important to us”, said Simon Jackson, partner of Findagolfbreak.com. We look forward to following their progress as they compete on both the European and Challenge Tours this season”.

Dustin claims career WGC Grand Slam at Dell Match Play

Dustin Johnson, a golfing machine with no discernible weakness and hardly any pulse, won the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play on Sunday for his third straight victory and made him the first player to complete the WGC career slam.

The final day lasted longer than he may have wanted, but the outcome was what everyone expected.

Johnson stretched ahead by winning four holes in succession from the 3rd tee. Yet Rahm displayed the tenacity which served him so well all week by holing from off the green at the 7th before winning both the 9th and 10th to keep Johnson just about within view.

A key moment looked to have arrived at the 11th, Johnson saving par and a half from 6ft as Rahm looked to impose himself further on the match. Johnson claimed the 12th to move to what appeared the unassailable position of four up with only six to play. Appeared proved the operative term.

Rahm roared again with victory on the 13th after he found the green from the tee of the par-four hole. Rahm also took the 15th, leaving Johnson two up with three to play. At the 16th Rahm brilliantly holed from 31ft, meaning Johnson was suddenly only one hole ahead with two to play.

An engrossing duel rumbled on to the 18th, Rahm overshooting the green from 368 yards away with his tee shot before leaving a chip 25ft short – he was not helped by a loud noise when mid-swing. Johnson duly made par as Rahm could do no better, leaving the world No1 as the champion by the most slender of margins.

Not once did Johnson trail in his 112 holes over seven matches. And while you might not have heard much about his semifinal combatant Hideto Tanihara (a 14-time winner in Japan and no slouch) he also destroyed major winners Webb Simpson (5 and 3), Martin Kaymer (3 and 2), Jimmy Walker (5 and 3) and Zach Johnson (5 and 4) and took out world No.10 Alex Noren (3 and 2). Johnson secured his final spot with a last-four victory over Hideto Tanihara. In that match he continued a stunning run of winning the opening hole at Austin Country Club in six matches out of six.

“Pretty awesome,” said Johnson after his dominant week. “Definitely kind of cool to be the first one to win all four. These are the biggest events besides the majors, with the best golfers in the world. I feel like there will be some more to do it, but I’m very, very pleased with it”, he said.

“I felt like I was still attacking the golf course,” he said. “You’ve got to make putts. And I felt like, especially this afternoon, it was really difficult, the wind was blowing, the greens got fast. So it was really tough to make putts.”

“It’s impossible to win every week. I know that. I still feel like I’m not playing my best golf,” Johnson said while basking in the presence of the Walter Hagen Cup. I’m playing really well, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t feel like I’m playing my best.

“Obviously I’ve won my last three. But I’m just going to have to keep working hard. Keep working on the things that I’m working on right now, and just keep trying to get better. Like I was saying before, being No. 1, it kind of drives me to work harder and to get better. There’s still a lot of room for improvement in my game. So I’m just going to keep working on it.”

When John Rahm was asked about Johnson’s abilities after the final, he said, “It’s amazing how he’s able to keep cool the entire round. It amazes me. And he’s just a perfect, complete player. Honestly, he doesn’t really make mistakes. I think he’s learned from what he’s done in the past and he’s embracing it now and that’s why he’s winning tournaments.”

Johnson says 95 percent of the time golf doesn’t feel easy. But right now the other five percent is in play.

“I believe in my ability. And I know what it takes to win out here,” he said ominously.

“Some days it’s easier. I feel like when you’re rolling in putts, that’s when the game gets pretty easy.”

In the last two starts at Augusta National Johnson finished T6 and T4… so he’s trending up.

Most have instilled him as a prohibitive favorite to add a second major as he seems impervious to nerves. But Johnson admits he still gets them.

“I want to win, it means something to me, so yeah I get nervous,” he says.

“But I’ve got a lot of confidence now. Confidence in my game and confidence in myself.”

“It’s not going to be any different for me (going forward). I’m still going to prepare like I always do and go out and try to play the best I can.”

“The Masters is always a tournament that I look forward to every year. I’ve actually played good there the last two years. I’m excited to go back when the game is in good form. I feel like everything is working pretty well.”

Johnson is now slated to play at the Shell Houston Open next week before taking his talents to the Masters. But keeping on a roll like this is very hard. The last player to win at least four in a row was Woods in 2007-2008 (he won five).

Congratulations DJ on yet another victory, and on writing your name in the history books. All at Hambric Sports are so proud of you.

Article courtesy of the PGA Tour

The World Number 1 chooses Hublot

2016, the start of a bright future for Dustin Johnson. Gaining his first Major title with victory in the US Open 2016, DJ confirmed his star status in the discipline, rising to the world number 1 spot in 2017. At 32, the American champion joined the ranks of Major winners and became a friend of Hublot. An explosive athlete whose steely determination and resolve have been rewarded.

He is considered the most gifted and athletic player on the circuit, thanks to his ultra-powerful, precise drives and his superb skills on the putting green. His peers have long known him as “the best player in the world never to have won a Major title”, and voted him “Player of the Year” on the PGA Tour in 2016. A much-deserved accolade in recognition of 10 years during which Dustin Johnson has played with an extraordinary determination, confirming the notion that champions are simply those who never give up.

“I am honored to join the distinguished list of Hublot Ambassadors, especially since I have always been such an admirer of their timepieces. Each one is so unique, unlike many of the other luxury brands, which I appreciate and enjoy. I am very excited about the partnership and hope to hoist a few trophies with a Hublot on my wrist.” Dustin Johnson

At 32, Dustin Johnson, otherwise known as “DJ”, has entered the annals of golf to join the select group of Major title winners. His talent has finally been rewarded with victory. Gaining his first Major tournament title with a win at the US Open in August 2016, DJ enjoyed an exceptional season.

He also won the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the BMW Championship. As part of the American team, he brought the Ryder Cup back to his country eight years after they last triumphed over the Europeans. Having amassed an impressive Top 10 record, 2016 saw Johnson confirm his status in the discipline, rising to the top of the rankings and winning the PGA Tour Money List. At the peak of his prowess, he confirms his number 1 position in winning the World Golf Championships- Mexico.

The Hublot family brings together men and women who have altered history. Exceptional athletes who have left their mark on the history of sport. The fastest man alive, Usain Bolt; footballing legends Pelé and Maradona; charismatic football manager José Mourinho, and many others. And now, Dustin Johnson has chosen Hublot, “a perfect match” between the watchmaker symbolising “the art of fusion” and the man blazing a trail through professional golf.

Johnson wins in Mexico on debut as World No. 1

Another week, another victory for Dustin Johnson who didn’t falter when a challenge arrived on Sunday at the WGC Mexico Championship. Playing mistake-free over the final five holes, Johnson claimed victory in his debut as the No. 1 player in the world.

Johnson’s four-shot lead going to the back nine turned into a one-shot deficit when Spanish rookie Jon Rahm ran off an eagle and two birdies.

Johnson caught him with a birdie on the par-5 15th, and closed with three solid pars for a 3-under 68.

Johnson’s last test on Sunday was from a fairway bunker on the 18th, and he blasted that out to the middle of the green for a two-putt par and a one-shot victory over Tommy Fleetwood of England.

“I didn’t feel like I putted my best, but I really hit the ball well,” Johnson said. “I played just well enough, because I won by one.”

Johnson became the fifth player to win in his first tournament as No. 1 in the world.

His fourth World Golf Championship title is second on the career list behind Tiger Woods, who won 18 times since the series began in 1999.

Asked if he could catch Woods, Johnson smiled.

“He’s got a lot,” Johnson said.

“But yeah, I’m going to try.”

Johnson was steady right to the end to capture his 14th career victory on the PGA Tour, and his second straight. He reached No. 1 in the world two weeks ago with a five-shot victory at Riviera.

Johnson converted only 9-of-17 putts from inside 5 feet. In the opening round, he missed six putts from the 6-foot range or closer. His power and his clean striking allowed him to overcome that.

“It’s a tough spot to be in,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of pressure on you. I came out and played really well. So to come out and win, it means a lot.”

It took more work at the end than he would have liked and imagined.

What was supposed to be a riveting battle among some of the biggest names in golf turned into a one-man show.

Johnson needed only a 31 on the front nine to dispatch of Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, and Phil Mickelson.

“I try to put myself in a position to win every golf tournament,” he said.

“Each week I go out, I’m prepared to win and I want to just give myself a chance to win when I turn to the back nine on Sunday.

He now gets two weeks off before he starts his run to the Masters at the Dell Match Play, the Shell Houston Open and then Augusta National.

Congratulations Dustin on yet another fantastic week!

Johnson on Top of the World

Dustin Johnson went to No. 1 in the world with a world-class performance at Riviera yesterday.

Johnson turned a marathon finish into a Sunday stroll in the Genesis Open. He had a one-shot lead when he arrived Sunday at Riviera, which lost 10 hours the previous three days to fog and torrential rain. He had such command of his game that his longest par putt in the third round was from 4 feet, and he closed with three straight birdies to make the final round in the afternoon more of a coronation. He finished the third round in the morning with a 7-under 64 to build a five-shot lead, stretched it to nine shots at one point in the final round and coasted home to a 71 and a five-shot victory.

“It sounds good,” Johnson said when asked about being the top player in the world. “I played really great all day. I couldn’t have driven it any better. That was a big key.”

Johnson became the 20th player to reach No. 1 since the world ranking began in 1986, ending Jason Day’s 47-week stay at the top.

He won for the fourth time against some of golf’s strongest fields dating to his U.S. Open victory last summer. To state the new world No. 1 was trending towards victory on the historic venue is an extreme understatement given he had six top-10 finishes from his prior nine starts.

The list of Johnson’s top-10 finishes at the Genesis Open now reads: 1st in 2017, 4th/ 2016, T2/ 2015, 2nd/ 2014, T4/ 2012, T3/ 2010, T10/ 2009.

There was no doubt this time though that Johnson was going to claim the title.

“To finally get a win at the Genesis Open feels good because I’ve finished second here a couple times, lost in a playoff, felt like I should have won a couple other times,” Johnson said.

“It’s definitely nice to win on a golf course that I really enjoy playing and a golf tournament I really enjoy playing.”

Johnson went 49 straight holes without a bogey, a streak that ended on No. 9 in the final round, and he was sloppy down the stretch when it no longer mattered.

It capped off a strong stretch that elevated Johnson to the top. Not only was it his fourth victory since June, he has finished among the top three in eight of his last 16 tournaments.

Johnson finished at 17-under 267. About the only disappointment was losing a chance to break the oldest 72-hole scoring record on the PGA TOUR schedule. Lanny Wadkins won at Riviera in 1985 at 20-under 264.

Johnson reached 20 under with his 21st birdie of the week on the par-3 sixth hole. Having made only one bogey all week, he finished with three over the last 10 holes.

“I didn’t finish the last 10 holes the way I’d like to, but I had a pretty good lead. I was on cruise control,” Johnson said.

He still had no complaints. He scooped up his 2-year-old son, Tatum, on the 18th green. Johnson’s fiancee, Paulina Gretzky, announced on Instagram earlier this week they are expecting their second child.

Johnson moves to sixth in the FedExCup with the win and joins Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win at least one time in each of their first 10 seasons on TOUR.

Thorbjørn Olesen announces multi year partnership with ISPS HANDA

International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS HANDA), the leading charity supporting blind and disabled golf, has today announced that Danish golfer Thorbjørn Olesen, will be joining their line-up of global ambassadors. Thorbjørn will be using an ISPS HANDA branded Tour bag this year as he competes around the world.

Four-time European Tour winner Olesen, has enjoyed considerable success at ISPS events having captured the 2014 ISPS HANDA Perth International and 2016 ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf with compatriot Søren Kjeldsen. He also claimed victory at the 2016 Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour last November, following on from his T2 finish at the BMW International Open and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters earlier on in the season. Olesen also has solid performances at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Shenzhen International where he finished in tied 8th at both.

Commenting on the announcement, Founder of ISPS, Dr Haruhisa Handa said, “We’re thrilled to have such amazing talent join our ambassador team at ISPS and I’m certain that he will help us spread our message to the world. At ISPS we believe in the
power of sport and its ability to change lives and Thorbjørn perfectly represent our values, not only through his sporting excellence but with his ability to inspire others both on and off the golf course.”

Thorbjørn Olesen said, “It’s always a pleasure to play at ISPS HANDA events, especially in Australia where I have fond memories having won in Perth in 2013 and at the World Cup last year. The format this week looks extremely interesting and I’m looking forward to helping ISPS spread their message around the world this year.”

About ISPS Handa

ISPS is a ‘General Incorporated Association’ based in Tokyo.  ISPS was founded by Japanese philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa in 2006 to support charitable causes throughout the sporting world.  ISPS’s support for golf is founded in its belief in the “power of sport” and it has fostered partnerships with golf governing bodies worldwide to help develop the game at every level and promote blind and disabled golf. ISPS’s heritage in supporting blind and disabled golf and Dr Handa’s interest and philanthropic contribution in golf has formed the foundation of its wider mission for golf to become a Paralympic sport. Outside of golf, ISPS’s support extends to other sports including rowing, football, polo, bowling and the convening of discussion platforms for young leaders in sports.