ERIN, Wis. (AP) — On the last day of the U.S. Open, Hideki Matsuyama was better than everyone else. Better than Brian Harman, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and the rest of the congested leaderboard.
Just not good enough.
Matsuyama shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday to pull within one of the lead, but Brooks Koepka birdied three straight holes to pull away to his first major championship. The 25-year-old Japanese star had two of the best rounds of the tournament – he shot 65 on Friday – but a 2-over 74 in his opening round loomed large as the scores got lower and lower at a forgiving Erin Hills.
Matsuyama’s 66 was the best score on a windy final day, one better than Koepka. But Matsuyama had to settle for a tie for second with Harman, four strokes back of Koepka.
It was Matsuyama’s best finish in a major, another high in a topsy-turvy season.
He defended his title in the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, beating Webb Simpson in a playoff at TPC Scottsdale. He tied for 11th in the Masters, but his game dropped off a bit from there.
After tying for 45th at the Memorial last month, Matsuyama arrived at Erin Hills on a downturn. But he seemed to get back on track in the second round, with birdies on six of his first eight holes.
An uneven finish on Saturday also hurt his chances. He had three bogeys and two birdies on back nine, finishing with a 1-under 71.
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