Jon Rahm wins 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines with thrilling closing stretch
But as for its ending? Much better. It came with a U.S. Open title.
Rahm, 26, was the last remaining star on Sunday night at Torrey Pines, and his thrilling birdie-birdie finish sealed the first major title of Rahm’s young, promising career. Rahm signed for a four-under 67 to finish six under overall, besting runner-up Louis Oosthuizen (71) by one.
It’s the sixth career victory of Rahm’s career, who despite the WD from the Memorial entered this week as the betting favorite. He didn’t disappoint.
“I think I said it yesterday, but I’m a big believer in karma,” Rahm said on the NBC broadcast on Sunday evening. “And after what happened a couple of weeks ago, I felt really positive knowing big things were coming.”
Oosthuizen, Russell Henley and Mackenzie Hughes started Sunday tied for the lead at five under but all found trouble early. Suddenly, it was anyone’s tournament, including Rahm, who started the day two under and three off the lead.
Bryson DeChambeau was the first to break out from the pack, when he stuck his tee shot to just a few inches away on the par-3 8th and kicked it in for an easy birdie and solo lead at fiver under. That stood until Oosthuizen also birdied the 9th to grab a share of the lead.
Meanwhile, a leaderboard loaded with star power was shifting by the minute.
Brooks Koepka, who teed off 90 minutes before the final pairing, birdied three holes on the front nine and then rolled in a 16-footer for birdie on 15 to get within one of the lead, joining Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Rahm and Hughes all at four under.
“You hear many people say all you need to do is hang on and let others make mistakes,” Rahm said, “and that simply wasn’t happening.”
But then it did. Fast.
Koepka bogeyed two of his last three. Morikawa — the best ball-striker in the game — thinned a wedge at 13 and made a double bogey. McIlroy missed a short par putt on 11 and then it snowballed with a double bogey on 12. Hughes hit a tee shot in a tree and made double bogey. A shirtless fan in tie-dye stormed a fairway and hit a couple of shots. Oosthuizen birdied 10 only to bogey 11. DeChambeau went bogey-bogey-double bogey on Nos. 11-13.
The biggest names on the board were imploding.
After one of the wildest hours in major golf, two players remained unscathed: Oosthuizen at five under and Rahm at four under. It stayed that way until the 17th hole, when Rahm, facing a 25-footer with about six feet of break, drained it for birdie. He punctuated it with a fist-pump and walked to the 18th tee tied for the lead.
Rahm then stole the clubhouse lead with a crowd-erupting birdie on the 18th — his fourth time birdieing the hole this week. His second shot into the par-5 finisher found the bunker, but he blasted out and made another hard-breaking putt from 18 feet. It led to the biggest roar of the week.
Oosthuizen, finishing the 15th at that time, was the only player who had a chance to catch him. He parred 15 and 16 but found the penalty area left of the fairway on the par-4 17th and missed his par putt. Needing an eagle on the 18th to force a playoff with Rahm, Oosthuizen had to hole a wedge from 69 yards, but it never had a chance. He rolled in the birdie putt to secure second.
Rahm was a major champion, and it was also a reunion of sorts. Rahm, also the first Spaniard to win a U.S. Open., earned his first career PGA Tour victory at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He and his wife, Kelley, were engaged in the area. Sunday marked another San Diego milestone for Rahm.
“It’s incredible I finished the way I did,” Rahm said. “Making another putt on this [18th] green the way I did, it’s hard to describe.”