US Open: Brooks Koepka happier on the course than on the range at Pebble Beach

Brooks Koepka sounded in an ominous mood at the halfway stage of the US Open, although he offered a bizarre explanation of how he is playing better in the tournament than in practice.

Koepka is well placed on four under par after consecutive rounds of 69 at Pebble Beach as he bids to become the first player in 114 years to win the tournament three years in a row.

The world No 1 plotted his way meticulously around the historic links and mixed one bogey with three birdies, including two late gains at the sixth and seventh, as he cemented a place in the top 10 after 36 holes.

Koepka revealed afterwards that he was happy with his ball-striking over the first two rounds, but that wasn’t the case over the three practice days and he appeared to imply that the driving range was partly to blame.

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“I was striking it just a little thin, and then this range doesn’t quite help,” he said. “The wind is into and off the left, and it’s in a direction I hate. And the turf on the range is a little firmer, a little tighter than it is on the golf course.

“So it’s been easier to find my game actually on the golf course. I feel like I can really be down on the ball, come in a little bit steeper than on the range. The range is … well, I don’t know what it is, but I’m not going to hit balls today.”

Koepka’s form over the first half of the event leaves him confident that he will be in contention for a fifth major victory in two years come Sunday evening, and he admitted there is “no better place” to win than Pebble Beach.

“I’d have taken 69 before I started, and I’m pleased with it,” he added. “I hit some good putts, some didn’t go in, and I struck it beautifully. And if I strike it like I did today and hole a few more putts, I should be just fine.

“I feel great, I’m excited and I’ve got a chance, so that’s all you can ask for. I just need to make a few putts, sometimes the hole just needs to open up. If I can get off to a good start tomorrow, have that feeling where the hole’s opening up, it could be a fun round.

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