June 22, 2021 08:06
From a significant disappointment earlier in the month, Jon Rahm of Spain told himself that something good would come from that. It sure didn't take long for that to unfold for one of the world's emerging golf stars.
Rahm shot 4-under-par 67 in the final round of the U.S. Open to cap a remarkable turnaround from two weeks ago and capture his first major championship Sunday at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
"I'm a big believer in karma," Rahm said. "After what happened a couple of weeks ago, I stayed really positive knowing big things were coming. I didn't know what it was going to be... I got out of COVID protocol early. I just felt like the stars were aligning."
Two weekends ago, Rahm dealt with devastation when a positive COVID-19 test meant he was forced to withdraw from the Memorial despite holding a six-shot lead after three rounds. That sent him into quarantine, putting his entry into the U.S. Open in jeopardy.
Rahm's four-round total of 6-under 278 was good for a one-shot victory on South African Louis Oosthuizen. Rahm had birdies on the final two holes -- both with putts of more than 18 feet -- to move to the front. It had been almost four decades since a golfer birdied the last two holes to win a U.S. Open. "I can't even believe I made the last two putts," he said.
But Oosthuizen, who was in the final pairing, had three holes to play at that point. Oosthuizen secured five consecutive pars after a bogey on the par-3 11th, but a bogey on No. 17 pretty much ended his chances unless he could produce an eagle on the last hole -- something he pulled off Saturday on the par-5 layout. Not this time, as he settled for birdie and a final-round 71. "I'll keep knocking on that major door," Oosthuizen said.
Rahm, who became the first U.S. Open champion from Spain, was on the practice range warming up for a potential playoff when the outcome was sealed. He said he feels right at home on this California course, where he won for the first time on the PGA Tour by claiming the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open. "I'm very biased," Rahm said. "I love this golf course, but I think it's going to become one of those iconic venues as well."
Rahm became a father for the first time earlier in the spring. So he celebrated Father's Day in style. He now lives in Arizona, but he's fond of San Diego. "Every time we come here, we're just happy," Rahm said. "As soon we land in San Diego, we're like we're in our spot.' "
Rahm tied for third place in the 2019 U.S. Open for his previous best outing in a major. His background at the championship was notable because he was the low amateur in 2016, when he tied for 23rd.
Rahm matched for the best score in the field Sunday, with Patrick Reed and Oosthuizen has won one major, 2010 British Open, and he has six runner-up spots in majors. That list includes tying for second at last month's PGA Championship.
"I'm second again," Oosthuizen said. "Look, it's frustrating. It's disappointing. I'm playing good golf, but it's not winning a major."
Harris English finished third at 3 under, with his final-round 68 his lone sub-70 score of the tournament. He had bogeys on three of the first four holes, but played the last five holes in 3 under. Brooks Koepka (69), Collin Morikawa (70) and Italy's Guido Migliozzi (68) were at 2 under to share fourth place. Russell Henley and Canada's Mackenzie Hughes, who along with Oosthuizen were tied atop the leaderboard through three rounds, weren't factors. Henley (76) tied for 13th at even for the tournament and Hughes (77) tied for 15th at 1 over.
There were 20 golfers within five shots of the lead when the round began.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau was two shots off the lead when the day began and was 2 under for the round through eight holes and briefly was in the lead. He tumbled out of contention, playing Nos. 11-17 in 8 over and ending up with a 77. His quadruple-bogey 8 on No. 17 was the final damage. "I've had plenty of times where I hit it way worse than today and I won," DeChambeau said. "It's just one of those things where I didn't have the right breaks happen at the right time." DeChambeau's 3 over put him tied for 26th.
PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson shot 75 and finished 11 over, tying for 62nd place.
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