Dustin Johnson, Andrew Landry tied for US Open lead

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Dustin Johnson, Andrew Landry tied for US Open lead

OAKMONT, Pa. - Dustin Johnson unleashed another powerful tee shot that got lost in the darkening sky over Oakmont. Positioned some 200 yards away on a forward tee, his caddie tried to track the flight of the ball until he gave up and said, "Where did it go?"

Like he even had to ask.

One year after Johnson let the U.S. Open slip away from him at Chambers Bay, he drove his way to the top of the leaderboard Friday at Oakmont on a marathon day of 36 holes with rounds of 67-69 that left him poised for another shot at a major.

"I've got a good game plan for this course," Johnson said. "And if I keep driving it like I am, I'll be tough to beat."
More than the long ball, Johnson has a short memory.

For all his chances in the majors - four of them and counting - he has the remarkable capacity to move on. The most crushing was last summer at Chambers Bay, when Johnson had a 12-foot eagle putt to win the U.S. Open and three-putted to finish one behind Jordan Spieth.

When asked if last year motivated him, Johnson deadpanned, "What happened last year."

This year has been nothing short of impressive. Johnson played 27 holes before making his only bogey in two rounds. He still hasn't made a birdie on a par 5. And he was at 4-under 136, the best score by two shots of the 50 players who finished two rounds in the rain-delayed championship.

Andrew Landry had a much shorter day.

The 28-year-old qualifier only had to hit one shot Friday when he returned in the morning to make a 10-foot birdie putt for a 66 and the lead. It was the best opening round in 10 majors at Oakmont, beating a record shared by Ben Hogan and Tom Watson.

Landry also became the first player in 30 years to have the sole lead after his first U.S. Open round. Now his name shares billing with Johnson, whom Spieth recently described as "arguably the most talented player on the PGA Tour."

Landry doesn't start his second round until Saturday morning.

Three storm delays Thursday left a disjointed schedule and no clear picture of who's in control. The nine players who completed the opening round Thursday, including 19-year-old Scottie Scheffler and his 69, had the entire day off Friday. Those who had to return to finish the first round initially were given tee times deep into the evening until the USGA decided it best that everyone from that half of the field - including Spieth at 2 over - start Saturday morning.

Sergio Garcia, who also knows his share of heartache in the majors, stayed with Johnson as best he could. He made a tough par on No. 4 by playing his third shot from the fifth fairway. And he finished his round with a 50-foot par putt for a 70.
Garcia was at 2-under 138, along with Scott Piercy, who also went 68-70.

"I'm too old for this," the 36-year-old Spaniard said. "We know how difficult the U.S. Open is, and here at Oakmont even tougher."

On the leaderboard, they were one shot behind Lee Westwood, who closed with two birdies in the morning for a 67.
Daniel Summerhays had a tournament-best 65 and joined Andy Sullivan (68) at 1-under 139. Jim Furyk, a runner-up at Oakmont in the 2007 U.S. Open, also was at 1 under with one hole remaining before play was halted by darkness.

Johnson made his only bogey when he found a deep bunker left of the first fairway, a rare miss off the tee. He could only advance the ball about 40 yards and narrowly missed a 20-foot par putt. He missed plenty of other birdie chances along the way, not alarming because Oakmont's greens are difficult to putt.

Far more impressive was his accuracy.

Johnson missed only three fairways in the second round, and he has missed only five greens through two rounds. If the lead stands after the second round is over, it would match the lowest 36-hole score in a U.S. Open at Oakmont. And he still hasn't made a birdie on a par 5 in two rounds.

"It was a long day today, but I felt like I played really solid all day for all 36 holes," he said. "I drove it really well."
Spieth, who finished off a round of only one birdie for a 72, returned to Oakmont in the afternoon to putt. Rory McIlroy, who matched his worst score in a U.S. Open with a 77, came back to work on his swing.

On the course, other stars were struggling.

Jason Day, the No. 1 player in the world, opened with a 76 and was at 5 over with three holes remaining. Phil Mickelson was in danger of missing the cut for the second straight time at Oakmont. He was at 7 over with two holes remaining.

For Johnson, it's time to put up his feet and contemplate another run at a major.

"He played awesome," Garcia said. "It's impressive. He drove the ball great, very far. I don't think he missed many fairways at all. Out of 36 holes here at Oakmont with only one bogey, it shows you have to play really, really well. He's going to be tough to beat, but I'll give it a shot."

© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.

Brooks Koepka caps a record week with U.S. Open title

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Brooks Koepka caps a record week with U.S. Open title

Brooks Koepka traveled around the world to find his game. He found stardom right at home as the U.S. Open champion.

Koepka broke away from a tight pack with three straight birdies on the back nine Sunday at Erin Hills and closed with a 5-under 67 to win the U.S. Open for his first major championship. A par on the final hole tied Rory McIlroy's record score to par at 16 under for a four-shot victory.

Not even the wind could stop the onslaught of low scores at Erin Hills.

And nothing could stop Koepka.

"What I've done this week is amazing," Koepka.

Tied for the lead with six holes to play, Koepka made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole. As Brian Harman began to fade, Koepka poured it on with birdies over the next three holes, lightly pumping his fist after each one.

His reaction was subdued, just like his close friend and last year's U.S. Open champion, Dustin Johnson. They spend time a lot of time together on the course, in the gym and at home, so Koepka has seen that U.S. Open trophy plenty at Johnson's house in south Florida.

And now he gets to keep it for a year, with his name on it.

It capped quite a journey for the 27-year-old Floridian. Without a card on any tour when Koepka got out of Florida State, he filled his passport with stamps from the most unlikely outposts in golf while playing the minor leagues on the European Tour - Kazakhstan and Kenya, Portugal and India and throughout Europe.

It was at the U.S. Open three years ago when Koepka tied for fourth that helped earn a PGA Tour card, and he powered his way from obscurity to his first PGA Tour victory in Phoenix, his first Ryder Cup team last fall and now a major championship.

Harman's chances ended with two straight bogeys, and a bogey on the par-5 18th hole gave him a 72 and a tie for second with Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who closed with a 66. Matsuyama didn't need to stick around very long. Koepka simply couldn't miss.

Koepka, who finished at 16-under 272, became the seventh straight first-time winner of a major championship, and it was the first time since 1998-2000 that Americans won their national championship three straight years.

Tommy Fleetwood, who played alongside Koepka and closed with a 72 to finish fourth, played the Challenge Tour a year before Koepka arrived.

"It gives you a good grounding," Fleetwood said. "Obviously, Brooks dealt with it amazingly. He came and kicked everyone's (behind) over there, didn't he? But he's proven for a long time how good he is. Now he's done it in a major."

It was only fitting that Koepka left Erin Hills with yet another record matched or broken.

McIlroy finished at 16-under 268 when he won on rain-softened Congressional in the 2011 U.S. Open. But the low scoring went much deeper than that. Only six players had ever reached double digits under par in the previous 116 times at the U.S. Open. McIlroy and Tiger Woods (12 under at Pebble Beach in 2000) had been the only players to finish there.

This week alone, nine players reached at least 10 under and seven finished there.

Xander Schauffele, a rookie on the PGA Tour playing in his first U.S. Open, birdied his last hole for a 69 to tie for fifth at 10-under 268 along with Bill Haas (69) and Rickie Fowler (72), who was poised at yet another major to win only to fall back. Fowler started one shot out of the lead at the Masters this year and shot 76. He was only two behind when he made the turn, but bogeys on the 12th and 15th holes - and no birdies until No. 18 - ended his hopes.

Justin Thomas, coming off a 9-under 63 that matched the major championship scoring record and was the first 9-under round at a U.S. Open, went out in 39 and closed with a 75 to tie for ninth.

The week ended with 31 players under par, breaking the U.S. Open record of 28 players at Medinah in 1990. There were 133 sub-par rounds, nine more than the previous record in that 1990 U.S. Open.

Erin Hills, an 11-year-old course shaped out of Wisconsin pastureland, didn't put up much of a fight without much wind. The strongest gusts were Sunday morning and it tapered to a strong breeze by the afternoon.

No one was more solid from start to finish than Koepka. 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, that 8-foot par putt might have been as big as any.

"I needed something to go in and see that to build momentum off it, and just carried that over," Koepka said.

Justin Thomas shoots 63, trails Brian Harman by 1 at US Open

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Justin Thomas shoots 63, trails Brian Harman by 1 at US Open

ERIN, Wis. (AP) Justin Thomas landed a 3-wood on the 18th green where some players couldn't land a wedge, leaving him an 8-foot eagle putt that he calmly made for a 9-under 63 that matched one U.S. Open record and broke another.

It also put him squarely in the mix to capture his first major.

On an Erin Hills course that again lacked enough wind to be the stern test that the U.S. Open wants, Brian Harman weaved his way through traffic at the top of the leaderboard Saturday for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead over Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood.

Thomas became the fifth player to shoot 63 in a U.S. Open and the first player at 9 under. And if his hot pink pants were not enough, he did it in style. He had 310 yards to the hole when he hit 3-wood that could have led to big trouble if he went too far long or left.

"Oh gosh, Jimmy, be good," he said to caddie Jimmy Johnson when the ball was in the air, and it was close to perfect. The ball landed on the front of the green just soft enough that it rolled out 8 feet by the hole.

Thomas poured that in to become the 29th player with a 63 in a major championship.

"The finish was awesome. I'd love to have another one of those," said Thomas, who posted at 11-under 205.

The way this U.S. Open is going at Erin Hills, he might need it.

Only six players had ever reached 10-under par or lower in the previous 116 U.S. Opens. There are five players in double digits at Erin Hills.

Harman was at 12-under 204.

Koepka also reached the green in two on the 667-yard closing hole for a two-putt birdie and a 68. Fleetwood was poised to take the lead until his pitch to the 18th wasn't strong enough and his next shot went beyond the flag and down the slope some 70 feet away. He got that up-and-down for a bogey and a 68.

Rickie Fowler, sharing a house with Thomas this week, was being left behind until he ran off three straight birdies and shot 68. He was 10 under.

Not to be overlooked was Si Woo Kim, who captured The Players Championship last month. He shot 68 and was only three back.

Even with the course drying out, there simply was not enough wind to frighten anyone on their game.

Thomas, the 24-year-old from Kentucky who is a major away from joining the young elite in golf, only added to a year of low numbers. He made an eagle on his final hole at the Sony Open in January to shoot 59, and he went on to break the PGA Tour's 72-hole scoring record.

The U.S. Open didn't seem to faze him, and he delivered a variety of big shots that led to his sensational finish.

He rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 5 from the edge of the green that broke so severely that he stood with his toes facing the hole and rapped the ball toward his left foot. It took a hard turn to the right and rolled in. In the hay left of the 12th fairway, he gouged it out with a 9-iron and watched it roll to 10 feet.

And with the tees moved up on the 15th hole to make it reachable, Thomas hit a 3-wood that rolled off the back slope of the green to 6 feet. He two-putted for birdie, and he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th.

"It doesn't matter how long, how whatever the course is," Thomas said about the longest course in major championship history. "When you give us soft greens, good greens and not much wind, you know there are going to be some good scores. I was just happy that I was the one that was able to take advantage of it today."

But the work is not done.

Of the five other players who shot a 63 in the third round at a major, none went on to win. Most of them had to come from far back going into the weekend, and it was difficult to put together two good rounds.