Rahm’s Historic US Open Victory
Print Sports Editor Oscar Young provides his recap of a memorable US Open in the world of golf.
Spain’s Jon Rahm held off the competition at the US Open last week, finishing at six-under-par and capturing his first major title after a dramatic final round at Torrey Pines.
Sunday’s late action saw Rahm and South African Louis Oosthuizen as the two contenders with a shot at victory. Oosthuizen held the lead for most of the back nine as the rest of the field seemed to drop off one-by-one. However, he dropped a shot on the 17th hole, opening the door for the Spaniard.
Rahm then made tricky birdie putts of 18ft and 24ft on the final two holes, leaving him in with the lead going into the clubhouse. Oosthuizen then failed to make the necessary eagle on the last, giving Rahm the major victory he had been searching for since his career began.
Going into Sunday’s play, many of golf’s best-known names were still in with a chance, including Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy. DeChambeau and McIlroy held shares of the lead early in the round, with many believing the Northern Irishman was on course to win his first major title since the PGA Championship of 2014. However, both struggled down the back nine, with DeChambeau making an ugly eight on the 17th after his powerful signature drive went out of bounds.
Americans Harris English and Brooks Koepka both capitalised on strong final days to ascend the leaderboard, finishing 3rd and tied 4th, respectively. This was English’s second year running, finishing in the top four at the US Open, having never placed better than 19th at any other major.
Rahm has now overtaken Johnson for the number one spot in the world golf rankings, which the American has held for 134 weeks in his career, compared to Rahm’s four.
This victory was just two weeks separated from Rahm’s forced withdrawal from the USPGA Memorial tournament after he was told he had tested positive for COVID-19 as he finished his third round. At the time, he was six shots in the lead and looked set to take home $1.67m in prize money.
Rahm was disappointed in that moment but acknowledged that it was how he would respond to the setback that would ‘define’ him. As such, his emotions were entirely on display at Torrey Pines, roaring at the crowd and embracing his wife and newly born son.
This year’s majors have allowed spectators back in limited numbers for the first time since the pandemic started, and Rahm’s putt dropping on the final hole provided a much-needed celebration by the golfing world, both from players and fans.
After the win, he stated that he is ‘a big believer in karma’ and never lost faith after the disappointment of two weeks prior. He then dedicated the win to Spanish golfing legend Seve Ballesteros, the five-time major champion who died ten years ago.
Looking forward, Rahm will be among the favourites for the Open Championship coming later this year. After years of being ranked among the top golfers globally and coming so close to a major, will this triumph propel one of the sport’s most consistent players onto further glory?