West Palm Beach native and Cardinal Newman High graduate Brooks Koepka struggled on the back nine Thursday in the first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday and began defense of his first major title by posting a score of 5-over 75 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
Koepka’s round was hurt by two double-bogeys, including on the par-4, 536-yard 14th hole. Koepka made the turn at 1 over, but was 4 over on the backside. Even with his struggles, Koepka is not completely out of contention after Shinnecock, one of the toughest sites on the list of traditional U.S. Open courses, played even tougher on a windy day. Koepka is six shots back after just four players played under par Thursday — Dustin Johnson, Russell Henley, Scott Piercy and Ian Poulter — who are all tied for the lead at one-under.
Koepka, who also played at Florida State, began his day with a long birdie on the par-4, 407-yard first hole, but his front nine was marred by a double-bogey 6 on the par-4, 452-yard sixth hole after his tee shot missed the fairway.
He started the back nine with a bogey on the 10th hole. He parred No. 11, bogeyed No. 12 and parred 13 before making his second double of the day. Like on the sixth hole, a missed fairway off the tee set up Koepka’s troubles.
Other big names — including Rory McIlroy (10 over), Jason Day (9 over), Tiger Woods (8 over), Jordan Spieth (8 over) Phil Mickelson (7 over) and Bubba Watson (7 over) — also got off to tough starts.
Koepka won U.S. Open last year at Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin Hills, Wis.