That was a fantastically entertaining final day at Torrey Pines. For a while, it felt like half the field was in with a shout, but it was Jon Rahm who seized the day with a couple of sensational putts at 17 and 18. This US Open was won, not lost. Congratulations to Rahm, and commiserations to Louis Oosthuizen, who once again comes up just short at a major. Hey, you can’t say the big Spaniard’s major breakthrough hadn’t been coming, after a tie for fifth at the Masters and another top-ten finish last month at the PGA. A most deserving victor. Thanks for reading these live hole-by-hole reports, it’s been good to have you along for the ride. See you next month for the Open at Sandwich, yes? Great, it’s a date! Nighty night!
-2: Migliozzi, Koepka, Morikawa
-1: Grace, Berger, Casey, Schauffele, Scheffler, McIlroy
E: F Molinari, Henley
+1: Cantlay, Streelman, Wolff, Hughes
+2: Reed, Garcia, Schwartzel, Harman, Spieth, Thomas, Johnson
Then the Father’s Day bit, as he thanks his family. “Even though Father’s Day is on a different day in Spain, I’m forcing him to celebrate it today! And man, we’re going to have fun, because there are three generations of Rahms on this green right now, even if one of them doesn’t really know what is going on! But I am glad he is going to see it in the future and enjoy it!”
Yes sir. Happy Father’s Day to everybody. A small golfing tale about it here, just in case you missed it earlier.
Rahm is asked how he did it. “You hear about many people saying: all you need to do is hang on and let others make mistakes. That simply wasn’t happening. I missed two short putts on 13 and 14, and told my caddy, two fours and two threes wins the tournament. It’s incredible I finished the way I did. Sometimes you have to attack a golf course. This is the power of positive thinking. I was never resentful for what happened [at Memorial] and I don’t blame anybody. It’s been a difficult year, and unfortunately Covid is a reality and has affected a lot of people. I got the best possible hand, because nobody in my family got sick. I barely got any symptoms. I have to mention that we lost a lot of people back home, we have lost some friends. We still have to be aware. Take care of yourself and everybody around you, so we can get over this as quick as possible.” He dedicates his win to an unnamed journalist friend who passed away from the virus.
That was painful. Oh USGA! But does Rahm care? Of course he doesn’t! He waits patiently, politely, then receives his medal and trophy. He hugs the big pot, a huge grin across his boat, a picture of blissed-out happiness. So nice to see for a player who went through the ringer recently at the Memorial. The golfing gods have settled their debt!
Before the trophy can be handed over, farcical scenes as Mike Davis, the outgoing CEO of the USGA, promises a flyover by a couple of F-18 jets. The planes don’t arrive on cue. They don’t arrive at all. An uneasy silence. Ah, eventually, here they come.
Rahm celebrated in hearty fashion when he curled in those putts on 17 and 18. For a while, as he waited for Oosthuizen to determine his fate, he looked a little stunned. He remained so when being interviewed by NBC. But now he’s back in party mode, a huge smile across his face, hugs with his wife and small baby, then mum and dad on Father’s Day! He’s off to get his trophy!
Oosthuizen makes his birdie putt to end with a 71. Folk will probably wonder why he didn’t throw caution to the wind and go for the green with his second shot, but there it is. Yet another second-place finish at a major for the South African. Unlike 2015 at Chambers Bay, at least he’s got second to himself this time. Par meanwhile for Mackenzie Hughes, whose shoulders understandably sagged after his ball got stuck up a tree at 11. He signs for 77.
-2: Migliozzi, Koepka, Morikawa
-1: Grace, Berger, Casey, Schauffele, Scheffler, McIlroy
Jon Rahm, US Open champion, is immediately interviewed by NBC! “I’m a big believer in karma. 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, but I knew we were coming to a special place, I know I got my breakthrough win here, and it’s a very special place for my family. The fact my parents were able to come, I got out of Covid protocol early, I just felt like the stars were aligning. I can’t even believe I made the first two putts! This was definitely for Seve. I know he tried a lot, and wanted to win this one most of all. I just don’t know how to explain it! I don’t know why, but every time we land here, we are happy. We’re in our spot!”
The last roll of the dice for Louis Oosthuizen. Can he chip in from 69 yards? He lands his ball 20 feet past the flag, spins it back a few feet, and … the ball slowly grinds to a halt. JON RAHM IS THE 2021 US OPEN CHAMPION!
Oosthuizen is forced to lay up. He’ll have to hole out from the fairway if he’s to deny Rahm. Nevertheless, Rahm isn’t tempting fate. Off he goes to the range, just in case.
McIlroy misses another birdie putt. He signs for a dreadfully disappointing round of 73. Once the clouds clear, he’ll be able to build on his first experience of proper involvement on a Sunday in a major for a while. It should stand him in good stead come Sandwich. Meanwhile a sad end for Russell Henley, who misses a short one that drops him down to level par and a tie for 13th. He’s still not finished in the top ten at a major, in other words. A shame.
Oosthuizen’s drive squirts into the thicker stuff down the left. His ball hasn’t disappeared completely, so he might be able to take a shy at the green. Up the hole, outgoing champion DeChambeau pars for a 77, then McIlroy wedges his third into the heart of the green and screws back to ten feet. Too little, too late.
He can’t make it. He hits it dead on line, a gentle left-to-right slider, but he’s given it a little bit too much juice, and it stays on the high side. Bogey, and now he needs to eagle the last, as he did yesterday evening, to force a two-hole play-off. In the clubhouse, Rahm is pictured doing his level best not to smile. He’s not being smug or triumphalist; you can tell by the nervous look in his eyes that he’s just excited, and the last thing he wants to do is tempt fate with his dream so close.
-6: Rahm (F)
-4: Oosthuizen (17)
Oosthuizen takes his penalty drop … and maybe this isn’t over yet at all! He caresses his wedge straight at the flag, his ball coming to a screeching halt ten feet from the flag. If he knocks that in to escape with a par, he’ll have an extra spring in his step … and walking to a hole he eagled yesterday. First things first, though, and he prowls around this must-make putt.
The tin lid on McIlroy’s dispiriting back nine comes at 17. He screws a glorious wedge to six feet, then misses the birdie putt. Not that it really matters any more, when the win is all he cared about, but a birdie-birdie finish would have taken him into a tie for third. Now he’ll have to eagle the last if he’s to match Harris English’s -3 mark.
It could be over. Oosthuizen pulls his drive at 17 into the penalty area down the left. A huge mistake. One bounce breaking left, and his ball disappears into a bush. Poor Louis. Unless he has a magical long-range escape up his sleeve, this could be an anti-climactic end to a very exciting final round. Like Jon Rahm will care!
One thing we already know: the six-year run of US winners is about to come to an end. Are we going to be celebrating the first Spanish winner in Jon Rahm, or will Louis Oosthuizen join Gary Player, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen as a South African champ? For a second, it looked as though the odds on the latter were lengthening, as Oosthuizen left his first putt on 16 six feet short. But in went the par putt, and he remains one behind. Two holes to find a birdie, with the 18th the easiest hole on the course.
Oosthuizen’s tee shot at 16 finds the green. He’ll face a long putt for birdie, but avoiding trouble at this hole is the watchword. Meanwhile on 17, a quadruple-bogey 8 for the defending champion DeChambeau, who one way or another is going to be very entertaining at the Open next month. He’s +3, and he’ll always have Winged Foot.
McIlroy finds a bunker at 16, from which he can’t get up and down. A low-energy bogey. He knew the jig was already up. It’s probably been that way ever since that miserable three-putt at 11, followed by the shank from the bunker at 12. He’s -1. Meanwhile Oosthuizen gets up and down from the front of 15 to remain a shot off Rahm’s lead at -5.
Two huge putts on 17 and 18 by Rahm. Talk about seizing the day! He signs for a final round of 67. Oosthuizen meanwhile, having surely heard the tumult, leaves his approach at 15 short. A reminder that should a play-off be required, the US Open is no longer decided by a full round on Monday. It’ll be a two-hole affair, down 7 and 18, followed by sudden death over the same holes if it’s not decided by then.
Rahm rolls another perfectly judged left-to-right curler into the centre of the cup! He wheels away in celebration, a huge smile, a vicious fist-pump! The gallery crackles again, volume all the way up to 11! His would be a popular victory, especially after his terrible fortune at the Memorial! He’s a shot clear at -6, and can only wait now. He meets wife Kelley and tries to lift baby Kepa, but Kepa has a handful of Mum’s hair and won’t let go. He’s got his old man’s strong grip, that’s for sure.
-6: Rahm (F)
-5: Oosthuizen (14)
-3: English (F)
Oosthuizen splits 15 with his drive. Exactly what he needed. Up on 18, Rahm opens the face of his wedge as far as it will go, aims right of the flag, then splashes 20 feet past, the camber taking it back round towards the hole a little. The best he could do from there. He had no other option.
Rahm lashes a long iron into 18 … but catches the bunker to the right of the green. He’s left with a downhill lie, not a huge amount of green to work with, and a putting surface that slopes away towards the water. Nothing is certain.
Morikawa tidies up for his birdie and it’s a fine 70. He’ll rue that opening round of 75, ending the week three off the current lead at -2. On 15, McIlroy nearly chips in from the bottom of a swale, and should remain at -2. And on 14, Oosthuizen takes two careful putts for his par.
Though would it have really mattered? Rahm steers in his left-to-right downhill curler from 25 feet on 17, and the gallery crackles with electricity as he celebrates his birdie with a huge roar and a couple of fist pumps! He joins Oosthuizen – who finds the green at 14 with an excellent second shot – at the top of the leader board … then crashes a drive down the fairway at 18! Could it really be happening at long last for the big man?
-5: Rahm (17), Oosthuizen (13)
-3: English (F)
-2: Migliozzi (F), Koepka (F), Morikawa (F), McIlroy (14)
Then Morikawa finds 18 in two. He’s got an eagle putt to tie the clubhouse lead. It’s a 30-foot downhill effort, and it only just misses on the left. That missed tiddler on 8 seems so costly now.
Just a par for Schauffele down the last. He signs for a 71, and he ends the week at -1. Whatever happens, it’s yet another top-ten finish, five from five appearances, at the US Open for the 27-year-old from San Diego.
Oosthuizen sends his tee shot at 14 towards the cart path down the right. He smiles cheekily as he watches it fly towards the gallery. Up on the green, it’s a two-putt par for McIlroy. Then up on 17, Rahm whipcracks a delicious wedge from the sand to 25 feet, an excellent result from where he was. You’d imagine this is now most likely to be decided between Rahm and Oosthuizen, with English and McIlroy retaining an interest for differing reasons. All of which is a long-winded way of saying: anything could happen. Don’t go to bed!
Rahm comes close to draining a 20-footer on 16 for birdie. Just a par. Then he sends his tee shot at 17 into sand down the right. Back on 14, Oosthuizen rolls in his par putt, and that’ll feel good after being out of position as a result of that awful second shot.
Oosthuizen gets up there quickly, before the ball can think twice about toppling down the false front. He’s left with a 60-footer for birdie, and sends his ball six feet past. That’s going to be a nerve-tester. Meanwhile on 14, McIlroy wedges into the green, although not particularly closely.
Oosthuizen wedges towards the 13th green from the deep stuff. His ball lands on the fringe. It’s clearly going to topple down the false front, 50 yards back … but somehow clings on! Shades of Fred Couples on 12 at the 1992 Masters! How on earth is that clinging on? Some gravity-defying nonsense! If Oosthuizen wins this US Open, you’ll see this one again and again!
McIlroy sends a 3-wood down the middle of 15. Up on 17, Morikawa gets up and down from thick stuff surrounding the green for a par, but like Schauffele, he’ll need eagle up the last if he’s to tie English in the clubhouse.
McIlroy nearly drains his eagle putt! But the ball breaks off to the right on its final turn, and he’ll have to settle for birdie. His dream of a second US Open title, and a first major in seven years, is not yet dead! Especially as Oosthuizen, back down the hole, has just sent his second into the deepest cabbage down the right. That ball’s disappeared. The final round of the US Open, everyone!
-5: Oosthuizen (12)
-4: Rahm (15)
-3: English (F)
-2: Migliozzi (F), Koepka (F), McIlroy (13)
-1: Grace (F), Berger (F), Casey (F), Schauffele (17), Morikawa (16), DeChambeau (13), Henley (13), Hughes (12)
Rahm races his long birdie putt on 15 at the hole. It hits the cup, leaps, and stays out. He looks distraught, but if anything that’s a stroke of luck; that ball was travelling, and could easily have ended up ten feet past. He taps in for a precious par. Schauffele can’t make one on 17, though, and at -1 his chance has gone … unless he can eagle the last to join English in a share of the clubhouse lead.
Rahm finds the green at 15 in two blows. He’s not close to the hole, but pars are at a premium right now, and he’ll be more than happy with that. On 13, McIlroy, having split the fairway with his drive, whistles his fairway wood into the heart of the green! He’s pin high, 25 feet to the left. What he’d give to sink the eagle putt now! And back on the tee, the leader Oosthuizen finds the short stuff, though he might not be far enough down the hole to reach the gree in two.
-5: Oosthuizen (12)
-4: Rahm (14)
-3: English (F)
-2: Migliozzi (F), Koepka (F), Henley (12)
DeChambeau clips down from the boozy bank at the back of 13. It’s a lovely delicate chip, but he can’t hold it, the ball rolling slowly, inevitably, down the slope and 30 feet away. He nearly makes the long putt coming back, but that’s a double bogey, and he’s -1. This could be the end of the defending champion’s bid to retain his title. A run of 4-5-7 looks to have prised his fingers off the trophy.
“Oh shoot!” DeChambeau blades his fourth shot at 13 out of the bunker, his ball disappearing into the gallery on the other side of the green and stopping beside a pack of Stella Artois. While he works out whether to turn it in and get stuck into the lagers, Rahm misses his birdie putt on 14, then sends his tee shot into the punters down the right of 15. Two putts meanwhile for Oosthuizen too, while Hughes, who ended up with a double bogey at 11, compounds the error with bogey at 12. He’s -1. Everyone has got extremely scrappy at exactly the wrong time. Harris English can be forgiven for flinging his shoes up onto the table, cigar on, to watch the rest of this very strange, very entertaining final round unfold. He couldn’t, could he?
While it’s not beyond the realms that Harris English could win this US Open by stealth, after his superb 68, this could also turn into a battle royal between Oosthuizen and Rahm. Both have set up 12-foot looks at birdie, at 12 and 14 respectively. DeChambeau continues to hack his way up the right of 13, his third finding a greenside bunker. And Schauffele is hanging on in there, with a two-putt par on the tricky 16th. He’s -2.
An awful finish to the round for Brooks Koepka, who won’t be winning his third US Open this week. He sends his second at 18 into thick bother to the right of the green, then fluffs his chip into sand. He can’t get up and down, and it’s a closing bogey. He signs for a 69, ending the week at -2, alongside Guido Migliozzi in the clubhouse. Harris English, barely mentioned all day, working away from the white-hot heat of the gallery and the TV cameras, is still the clubhouse leader! Look at this, all of a sudden!
-5: Oosthuizen (11)
-4: Rahm (13)
-3: English (F), DeChambeau (12)
-2: Migliozzi (F), Koepka (F), Schauffele (16), Morikawa (14), Henley (12), Hughes (11)
Bogey for Oosthuizen at the par-three 11th, the result of his sending his tee shot down to DeChambeau Country. He’s -5. McIlroy shanks his almost impossible bunker shot, having to hack down on the ball like a half-cut butcher. He ends up with a double, and suddenly crashes down to -1. DeChambeau slips as he drives at 13 and hoicks his ball into thick rubbish down the right, then slashes his second into similar nonsense not particularly further up the hole. The back nine at Torrey Pines is beginning to bare its teeth.
Harris English is the new clubhouse leader! He’s just signed for a 68, having birdied 14, 17 and 18, doing nearly all of his business out of sight. Suddenly he’s set a mark at -3 … and a lot of players are heading in the wrong direction. This couldn’t be a retread of Ben Curtis’s win at Sandwich at the 2003 Open, could it? Everyone looking the other way at the stars, a mark quietly set, the whole field coming backwards? You wouldn’t totally rule it out.
Hughes identifies his ball, then takes his drop, straight down below, onto the cart path. He’s allowed relief from there. He’ll be hitting three. A huge up-and-down attempt coming up. He’s given some time to thing about it. Eventually he punches a wedge onto the green that’s as average as his tee shot was unfortunate. He’ll have a long bogey putt. And it’s all threatening to unravel for McIlroy, as well, as he drives into a bunker down the left of 12, then sends his second into another, to the right of the green. It’s plugged, on a downhill lie, the lip at the back possibly limiting his backswing.
DeChambeau ships another shot, this time at 12, the result of an overly aggressive first putt. A shame, because having launched his drive into thick filth down the right of the hole, he’d powered to the front of the green with Olympian strength. He slips back to -3. Par for Koepka on 17, meanwhile. Better than nothing, with quite a few players heading in the wrong direction all of a sudden.