San Diego – After a significant disappointment earlier in the month, Jon Rahm told himself something good would come out of it.
It sure didn’t take long for that to unfold for one of the world’s emerging golf stars.
The Spaniard shot 4 under-par 67 in the final round of the U.S. Open to cap a remarkable turnaround from two weeks ago to 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 was devastated after a positive COVID-19 test forced him to withdraw from the Memorial despite holding a six-shot lead heading into the final round. 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 over South African Louis Oosthuizen.
Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and fellow Japanese Rikuya Hoshino finished as part of a five-way tie for 26th at 3 over.
Rahm had birdies on the final two holes to move into the lead. 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.
Oosthuizen, who was in the final pairing, had three holes to play at that point.
Oosthuizen carded 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 title.
“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, 26, 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 finished tied for the best score in the field Sunday, with American Patrick Reed and South Africa’s Branden Grace also shooting 67s.
Oosthuizen won his only major at the 2010 British Open and has six runner-up finishes, including 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 back 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 to 17 in 8 over and ending up with a 77 that included a quadruple-bogey 8 on No. 17.
“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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