Brooks Koepka still in the US Open hunt despite shaky finish

Brooks Koepka’s chances of a historic third straight US Open title are still alive after he ended the first round just four shots off the lead.

It certainly wasn’t vintage Koepka by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s mark of his form and talent that the 29-year-old was able to salvage a two-under-par 69 despite not being at his best.

Koepka tends to fare better when his power game can propel him through a golf course and the fairways are wide enough to accommodate him, but the American was able to perform even when the course wasn’t playing to his traditional strengths.

Not that it was all smooth sailing. Koepka looked set for another blistering charge after kicking off his round with four birdies in his opening six holes, but he would play his last 12 in two over to come back down to earth.

He made one further birdie at the 12th but dropped shots at the eighth, 13th and 17th to undo much of his good work.

Koepka was also lucky to escape with a par at the last after finding the cart path next to the fairway.

“It’s a battle if you’re not going to hit fairways,” said Koepka, who missed quite a few. “If you’re not going to hit greens, it’s going to be tough [but] I’m actually quite pleased.”

Koepka is smart enough to know that escaping with a 69 on the day was actually a pretty good return.

“I would have liked to have shot a couple more. But considering how I hit it coming in, I’m pretty pleased,” he said.

“I didn’t shoot myself out of it. I’m right there. I feel like if I get out tomorrow and get off to a good start, I’m right back into it.”