It was one of the most bizarre fortnights of Jon Rahm’s young career. It ended in a maiden major championship for the Spaniard. Alex Perry recalls the action
If you’re looking for the report of the final day of the 2021 US Open, click here.
If you missed anything from the first three days and want to catch up, keep scrolling…
US Open day 3 wrap: History on McIlroy’s side at Torrey Pines
Strap yourselves in – it’s going to be a fun Sunday at the US Open.
Say what you like about Torrey Pines and its South Course, it knows how to create a fun finish. (Who can forget what happened last time here?)
The odds on either Mackenzie Hughes or Russell Henley leading through 54 holes would have been long. The odds on both of them leading through 54 holes would have been astronomical.
Hughes has missed his last five cuts on the PGA Tour and this is his first time making the weekend at a US Open in his fourth attempt.
Henley’s only top 20 in this major came as the low amateur at Pebble Beach when Graeme McDowell was triumphant.
In contrast, the pair are joined atop the leaderboard by Louis Oosthuizen – who has six top-three finishes in majors since his surprise win at the Open 11 years ago. And what a way to get there, too…
And then there’s just the small matter of Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau two shots behind them.
Ten years on from his first, McIlroy is looking to win his fifth major – and first since 2014 – as well as this pretty neat nugget of golf history…
DeChambeau, meanwhile, is looking to retain his national championship.
Then there’s Jon Rahm – who, like McIlroy, will be celebrating his first Father’s Day on Sunday – a shot further back, while Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa are also in the small pack of players under par.
Paul Casey and Ian Poulter lead the British efforts at even par, where they’re joined by major champions Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Francesco Molinari.
But we can probably rule out anyone not in red numbers. According to the USGA, the last 22 winners – and 58 of the last 60 – have been within four shots of the lead through 54 holes.
Whoever gets over the line, this one’s going to be worth staying up for.
It’s meant to be…
I mean just give him the trophy now.
Now kick back with McIlroy’s highlights
We’ve all been there, Sergio…
That’s enough for today. If you missed anything from the first two days and want to catch up, keep scrolling…
US Open day 2 wrap: He couldn’t, could he? Bland outguns ‘gym-goers’ with Torrey masterclass
Morning. Quieten down, please, my head’s a bit achey…
While the England football team were putting on an abject performance at Wembley Stadium in their Euro 2020 match against Scotland, five-and-a-half thousand miles away Burton-born Richard Bland was putting on a short-game masterclass for the Torrey Pines galleries.
If they didn’t know who he was then, they sure know now.
I don’t need to remind you that Bland’s British Masters triumph was about as emotional as it gets.
Fast forward a few weeks since the 48-year-old finally got over the line to win a European Tour title, having failed in his previous 477 attempts, and he is now the oldest player to ever lead the US Open at the halfway stage.
It was one of those days for Bland, where everything he hit ended up in the bottom of the cup.
Let’s kick back for a couple of minutes and enjoy Bland’s Friday finesse…
“I want to give the gym-goers a run for their money,” Bland joked.
Of course this isn’t the first time Bland has topped the charts in a major. He very briefly led at Royal Birkdale.
“I tied the lead at the Open in 2017 for a hole, so it is nice to have it a bit longer than that.”
“To lead a major is pretty special.”
There’s always an omen
Remember when Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship at the age of 50? Of course you do, it was only a month ago.
Well, he was ranked 115 in the world when he lifted the Wanamaker Trophy.
Guess what Bland’s ranking was going into this week’s US Open?
(It was 115, if that isn’t obvious.)
Grand Slam watch
Speaking of Phil, he’s seven back of the leaders after a 69 on Friday.
Who else is up there?
First-round leader Russell Henley remains at the top alongside Bland after a solid 1-under 70, while Louis Oosthuizen and a resurgent Matthew Wolff are one back.
Bubba Watson and Jon Rahm are at 3-under, while Xander Shauffele and Italian wunderkind Guido Migliozzi are also among just 12 players in red numbers.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau is in the mix after a 2-under 69 saw him back to level par, alongside the likes of Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, and Collin Morikawa.
Meanwhile Rory McIlroy went the other way and will head into the weekend at 1-over, alongside Bland’s fellow 48-year-old Lee Westwood.
It’s not often you have to withdraw from a tournament due to sand.
As you can expect, Viktor Hovland’s withdrawal statement is an entertaining read…
Nothing like a good golf hoodie to rile some people up. The best thing about this week is the traditionalists can’t even blame golf’s imminent demise due to this offensive garment on the young and the woke…
If you missed anything from day one and want to catch up, keep scrolling…
US Open day 1 wrap: ‘I’m a better putter in the dark’: Rory sees funny side as chaos ensues at Torrey Pines
Morning! Who stayed up to watch the first round of the US Open then? Of course you didn’t, that would be lunacy. Here’s a quick rundown of what you missed at Torrey Pines…
As if it wasn’t going to be late enough for viewers anywhere east of Torrey Pines, the opening day started with a 90-minute fog delay. (I mean, you wait three-and-a-half weeks for a major and then this!)
As darkness fell over America’s west coast, it led to some crazy scenes as players scrambled to finish their first rounds. In particular, the group of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose on the 17th green.
Once the horn goes, you’re allowed to finish the hole you’ve started. So Rose knocked in a par putt at 17 and raced to 18 to tee off, leaving his playing partners finishing up behind him.
He drilled his tee shot down the last hole – meaning the group would be able to finish – before McIlroy had even lined up his par putt from the fringe. He made it.
Up ahead, the group in front, including Sergio Garcia, could only stand and watch as Rose’s ball sailed past them. The Spaniard turned back to the tee and flung his arms up in disbelief. (You don’t need much lip reading experience to see what he was saying.)
When McIlroy and Johnson finally caught up to Rose, it was essentially pitch black. Rose had found the pond that protects the front of the green – he would save par but, at 7-over, he’s heading home early. Johnson’s appproach found sand – he too would save par but is very much in contention at even par. And McIlroy treated us to that familiar confident bounce up to the green, where he had left himself an eight-footer for birdie.
He drained it, gave a fist pump to those still remaining in the gallery around Torrey’s finisher, and joked that he’s a “better putter in the dark”.
We’ve missed this Rory. Now go and win it.
So who’s leading?
Russell Henley had no such drama. The American plotted his way round for a tidy 4-under 67 to take the clubhouse lead.
Louis Oosthuizen – who else? – is also at 4-under, but the South African will need to come back early Friday to finish a couple of holes.
California resident Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bello are at 3-under, while Brooks Koepka – who else? – leads a large pack that also includes Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele, and Jon Rahm.
Alongside McIlroy at 1-under is English trio Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, and Richard Bland – playing in just his fourth major in more than 20 years on tour thanks to that emotional win at the British Masters a few weeks ago.
Speaking of emotional wins, Marcus Armitage’s triumph in Germany last week earned him a spot at Torrey Pines – and he’s made the most of it with a solid even-par 71. Also in on the number are Garcia, Robert MacIntyre, Paul Casey, and newlywed Lee Westwood.
He just had to do it, didn’t he?
While Brooks Koepka was giving a post-round interview, late starter and defending champion Bryson DeChambeau couldn’t resist making himself known…
Still, gives us an excuse to watch the hilarious clip that started this all off at the PGA Championship…
The day didn’t end quite as well for the defending champion, though. While he led the field with his driver and putter, his irons deserted him and a 2-over 73 left him with a lot of work to do – most of which he started immediately on the range in the pitch black…
The craziest scorecard
Matt Wolff burst onto the scene last year but has been struggling in recent months. And he certainly had a fun opening day at Torrey Pines.
The youngster rolled in eight birdies, five pars, three bogeys and two double bogeys for a 1-under 70.
If ever a scorecard summed up a player’s career…
Grand Slam watch
A disappointing 75 for PGA champion Phil Mickelson.
It’s going to need something special on Friday.