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When karma struck at Torrey Pines

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
 

There was a very funny moment in Jon Rahm’s post-round press conference after the third round of last year’s US Open when reporter asked how close he was to losing his temper after a testing day at Torrey Pines.

Rahm had just carded a one-over-par 72 to sit in a tie for sixth place and three back of leaders Louis Oosthuizen, Russell Henley and Mackenzie Hughes.

The Spaniard sat back, a wry smile appeared across his face, then he suddenly sounded annoyed. “Am I ever going to escape that question?” he snapped.

He was only half joking.

Rahm is never afraid to show his fiery side on the course. It’s the reason half of us said he would become a major champion and the reason the other half said it would hold him back.

Now we know the answer.

Just as Oosthuizen looked set to finally add a second major to his CV after a long run of being the bridesmaid, Rahm’s remarkable finish saw him roll home back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18 to pip the South African by one.

Rahm became the first Spaniard to win the US Open. Indeed, he became the first Spaniard to win any USGA event.

It was the culmination of a farcical fortnight for Rahm, who two weeks before was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament – where he led by eight shots going into the final round – following a positive Covid test. “I don’t care what anyone says – he’s won two tournaments in a row,” Rory
McIlroy, who finished tied for seventh after a final-round 73, told reporters.

Rahm, who won his first PGA Tour title at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open on this same course, simply said he’s “a big believer in karma”.

He added: “After what happened a couple of weeks ago, I stayed really positive knowing good things were coming.

“I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I knew we were coming to a special place. I got my breakthrough [PGA Tour] win here and it’s a very special place for my family, and the fact that my parents were able to come, I got out of Covid protocol early, I just felt like the stars were aligning. I knew my best golf was to come.

“I have a hard time explaining what just happened because I can’t even believe I made the last two putts, and I’m the first Spaniard ever to win a US Open.

“This was definitely for Seve [Ballesteros].

“I know he tried a lot, and usually we think a lot about him at the Masters, but I know he wanted to win this one most of all. I just don’t know how to explain it.”

For Oosthuizen, it was a sixth runner-up finish at a major since winning the 2010 Open at St Andrews.

“I’m second again,” he sighed. “It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. Winning a major championship is just not going to happen.

“I played good today, but I didn’t play good enough.”

A month later, Oosthuizen would lead The Open at Royal St George’s after each of the first three rounds before finishing four back of Champion Golfer Collin Morikawa.

2021 US Open final-round highlights

2021 US Open final leaderboard

US Open

-6 Jon Rahm
-5 Louis Oosthuizen
-3 Harris English
-2 Brooks Koepka, Guido Migliozzi, Collin Morikawa
-1 Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Branden Grace, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler

Click here for the full leaderboard


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