Jon Rahm secures first major with a stunning finish in the US Open

Trailing behind Louis Oosthuizen for most of the day, Jon Rahm secured victory with birdies on the 71st and 72nd holes for his first major title

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Jon Rahm - Sean Haffey - Getty Images - US Open

21 June 2021: As the US Open approached its climax, several aspiring contenders threw their hat in the ring. At one point, there was just a solitary shot separating ten men. Bryson DeChambeau the defending champion threatened to power his way, snatching the lead from Louis Oosthuizen at 5-under through eight holes. But the back nine acquired a life of its own, bared its fangs and swallowed golfers whole to upend the sharpest calculations. As dusk fell on Torrey Pines, Jon Rahm turned the lights on with a scintillating performance, reaching a crescendo with two mighty putts on the 71st and 72nd holes to snatch his first major victory.

Akshay Bhatia - USGA - Jeff Haynes
Akshay Bhatia – USGA – Jeff Haynes

Teenager Akshay Bhatia gave a good account of himself, the youngest golfer to compete the full week. He shot 73 in each of the first three rounds and ended the week with a fine birdie on the 72nd hole. None of the amateurs made the cut this week.

The win was a fitting reward for Rahm, who was forced to walk off the 18th green at Muirfield Village, when he tested positive for coronavirus while holding a six-stroke lead through 54 holes. The Spaniard became the first man from his country to win a US Open, embracing his wife and boy for a perfect ending to his first Father’s Day weekend.

“I’m a big believer in karma. I knew my best golf was to come. I can’t believe I made the last two putts. I’m the first Spaniard to win the US Open, this one’s for Seve,” said Rahm, who credited his victory to a positive mindset, even after those difficult moments at the Memorial.

Torrey Pines has been a haven for Rahm. It is where he won his first of five PGA TOUR wins. It was also where he proposed to his wife Kelley Cahill. And now in the presence of his wife and Kepa, he turned a major champion.

60-70-72-67 did it for Rahm, whose 6-under 278 was the gold standard for the week, ahead of Louis Oosthuizen. The South African finished at 5-under for his sixth runner up finish in a major – one each at the Masters (2012) and the Open (2015), and two each at the PGA Championship (2017, 2021) and US Open (2015, 2021). He shot an even 71 in the final round. This is the second year in his career when he has two runner-up finishes, the first was in 2015.

Jon Rahm - Kepa - Kelley Cahill-Rahm - USGA
Jon Rahm poses with his wife Kelley and son Kepa as he holds the U.S. Open trophy after winning the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. (Jeff Haynes/USGA)

Rahm wasn’t dominant in any particular area of the game this week. But he did well all round and delivered a couple of stunning blows at the end to capture his first major title. The Spaniard was 5th off the tee, 11th best with his approach, 17th around the green and ranked 20th in the field for putting. It was a consummate performance that peaked at the very end.

At the 17th hole, Rahm made a curling putt, left to right to tie with Oosthuizen. He then secured the lead with another sensational putt, this one much straighter to produce a thrilling finish to another memorable US Open.

Harris English secured the third spot with an elegant 68 on Sunday. He was 3-under 281.

Guido Migliozzi, the man that lost the British Masters playoff to Richard Bland, extracted his pound of flesh with a T4 alongside Brooks Koepka and Collin Morikawa. The Italian made 68, to 69 by Koepka and 70 by Morikawa.

Rory McIlroy (73), in contention through the way out, lost his way early during his final nine holes. The Northern Irishman conceded three strokes in two holes and never quite recovered. He finished in a tie for seventh with Scottie Scheffler (72), Xander Schauffele (71), Paul Casey (70), Daniel Berger (68) and Branden Grace (67). The group rounded off the top ten at 1-under 283.