Tagged in: U.S. Open

Koepka out of U.S Open over ongoing injuries

Brooks Koepka, who has been hampered by a knee problem for the better part of a year, withdrew from next week’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot, tweeting, “I’m looking forward to getting healthy and competing at 100% again very soon.”

Koepka has collected two of the past three U.S. Opens and concluded second to Gary Woodland last year at Pebble Beach.

Last month, Koepka was attempting to become the first player since Walter Hagen in the 1920s to collect three straight PGA Championships, but he fell out of contention with a final-round 74 at Harding Park.

Koepka missed the cut the following week at the Wyndham Championship then withdrew from the first FedEx Cup playoff event, the Northern Trust, ending his 2019-20 campaign.

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He has dropped to No. 8 in the world after starting 2020 in the top spot.

The four-time major champion had a stem cell procedure on his left knee after last year’s Tour Championship then aggravated the injury at a tournament in South Korea in October. He didn’t play again until January, and it’s mostly been a struggle since.

Koepka finished seventh at the RBC Heritage after the PGA Tour’s restart and tied for second in early August at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He was just two shots out of the lead heading into the final round of the PGA Championship before dropping to a tie for 29th.

“My golf swing’s fine,” Koepka said after missing the cut at the Wyndham. “If I can physically do it, then yes, everything’s fine.”

But Koepka has also complained about trying to get to his left side in his swing, and during the second round of the PGA Championship, he three times had a trainer help with his hip.

“It just locked up, cramped,” Koepka said. “I couldn’t do anything with it.”

Paul Waring will replace Koepka based on his Official World Golf Ranking as of Aug. 23. The U.S. Open starts Sept. 17 after being rearranged from June due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States Golf Association has yet to announce an alternate to take Koepka’s place in the field of 144.

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Serena wins, Venus falls in 1st round at US Open

Making quick work of an opponent for a change, Serena Williams wrapped up her 102nd career US Open match victory to break a tie with Chris Evert for the most in the professional era. Then Williams headed back out to the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands Tuesday night, her dog in tow.

Williams had a match to watch – her older sister’s, which did not work out as well. Serena Williams, who turns 39 this month, overpowered Kristie Ahn 7-5, 6-3. But Venus Williams, who is 40, lost in the US Open’s first round for the first time in 22 appearances, beaten 6-3, 7-5 by No. 20 Karolina Muchova.

It is the fourth time in the past five Grand Slam tournaments that Venus exited in her opening match.

“I just ran out of time today,” Venus stated. Venus, who won two of her seven major singles championships in New York, was trying to become only the third woman in her 40s to win a US Open singles match.

“We would have never thought we would still be out here, to be honest. I love my job. At the end of the day, I love what I do. I’ve always said, ‘You can’t do it forever’. One of these days, it’s going to end,” Serena said after delivering 13 aces and dropping only six points on her serve.

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She has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most in the professional era, which started in 1968; only Margaret Court collected more, with 24. Six of Serena’s trophies came at the US Open, and she also was the runner-up four times, including each of the past two years.

Entering Tuesday, Serena had been 3-2 since tennis matches resumed after a hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic – and all five went three sets. So Tuesday’s match was a welcome change. “It’s been years – since the ’90s – since I won a match in straight sets,” Serena joked.

“I’ve been playing a ton of tight matches. I felt like, all right, I just wanted to be ‘Serena-focused’ from the first point to the last point, no matter what happens,” she said.

Her career mark at the hard-court event is 102-13, a winning percentage of .887. “In a weird way, I feel like every time I come here, I’m being told I broke another record. It’s cool. I don’t think I appreciate it enough, which is unfortunate. But I’m in the middle of a Grand Slam, so it’s not the time to be focused for me on records when I’m thinking about winning a tournament,” Serena stated.

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Halep defeats Mertens to win Prague title

World number two Simona Halep said she will reveal on Monday whether she will play at the U.S. Open.

Speaking after her triumph over Elise Mertens in the Prague Open final, the 28-year-old Romanian said “she just needed her time” to make a decision.

Halep was playing her first event since coronavirus pandemic shut down tennis in March, picking up where she left off six months ago when she won the title in Dubai.

After some rusty performances during the week, Halep found her groove to win 6-2 7-5 and said she was encouraged by her form and the health protocols put in place in Prague.

“We felt really safe here and all the rules were respected,” she told reporters. “It’s a bit stressful but the fact that everyone was good these 10 days means everything was done well.”

Halep had struggled past Polona Hercog in her first match of the week and was also far from her best versus Barbora Krejcikova and compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu. But apart from some understandable fatigue, she looked far more like herself versus Belgian Mertens, winning in one hour 33 minutes to earn her 21st career WTA trophy.

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Mertens blazed into a 2-0 lead with a flurry of winners, but Halep found her range from the baseline responded by reeling off seven successive games to take control.

Halep did not have things all her own way though and was broken back early in the second set as Mertens again went on the attack. A wobbly service game permitted Halep to move a break ahead again in the fifth game, although Mertens retaliated again to level the second set at 4-4.

Halep broke to lead 6-5 though and finished it off with a heavy forehand.

“Second set I was 4-2 up but dead and felt very tired,” she said. “But today, mentally I was really strong which allowed me to win in two sets.”

With world number one Ash Barty and 2019 U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal, as well as a host of other top players, already deciding against playing at Flushing Meadows, organizers will be hoping Halep says yes.

Halep has appeared reluctant to make the trip to the U.S., which is still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, but said this week she needed to see what “changes” the organizers would make in terms of “travelling and stuff”.

The U.S. has around 5.5 million cases of COVID-19 and almost 172,000 people have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Concerns remain whether players would face mandatory quarantine if they travel to Europe from the U.S. for claycourt events in September, although Halep said she now believed that players would not need to quarantine. U.S. Open organizers are creating a bio-secure bubble in New York with tough protocols to hold the tournament from Aug. 31 without fans.

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Winged Foot closure leaves U.S. Open in limbo

The closure of Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, due to coronavirus concerns has at least temporarily halted preparations there for the 2020 US Open.

The US Golf Association said in a statement to GolfChannel.com that it continues “to hold the dates for the US Open at Winged Foot in June” while it also monitors guidance and regulations from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and state and local authorities.

In the meantime, work that had started on tournament infrastructure such as corporate hospitality tents and grandstands has been halted.

The USGA acknowledged that the championship, programmed for June 18-21, might have to be postponed, but said it was too soon to make that call.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation and making relevant contingency plans,” USGA chief brand officer Craig Annis told the Journal News newspaper that serves Westchester County.

“We expect to make a decision sometime in the middle of April.”

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The first two major championships, the Masters and PGA Championship, have already been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s in England is still programmed for July 16-19.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo warned Tuesday of “troubling and astronomical numbers” in the rate of coronavirus infections in the state, saying they were doubling every three days.

The Masters and PGA Championship have already been postponed, and the PGA Tour has canceled eight events. There is talk of the PGA Championship taking over the date vacated by the postponed Olympic Games in late July, with the Masters potentially moving to October.

The last time the U.S. Open was not played was in 1945 due to World War II.

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