Spaniard Jon Rahm won an incredible first major title as he finished with back-to-back birdies on a thrilling final day of the 121st US Open.
Rahm, 26, roared against a wall of fans after his 18 putt brought him down to six under and gave him a one-stroke lead over South African Louis Oosthuizen.
Oosthuizen, who had four holes to play, missed the 17th, meaning he needed an eagle last but could only birdie.
Rory McIlroy (73) and Bryson DeChambeau (77) contested but passed out late.
Rahm’s victory comes two weeks after being forced to withdraw from a PGA Tour event he was leading by six moves after three laps due to a positive coronavirus test.
The Spaniard said his main concern at the time was for his wife and two-month-old baby and it was with them that he first celebrated – on his first Father’s Day no less – after the birdie’s nerveless putt.
“You have no idea what that means at the moment,” he told his son Kepa after hearing about Oosthuizen’s closing birdie. “You’ll do it soon enough.”
“The stars aligned”
The standings were crowded after a flurry of birdies on the top nine, but players struggled to avoid the bogeys after the turn.
Oosthuizen was the last to fall when he released a shot on the 17th and he couldn’t repeat the sensational eagle he achieved on the 18th on Saturday, giving him a share of the day’s lead at the next day.
The 38-year-old, who won the 2010 Open Championship, has now finished second in a major tournament six times.
Rahm was the only competitor not to drop a shot in the last nine and had seven starts in a row before the grandstand arrival saw him become the first Spaniard to win the US Open.
“I believe in karma a lot and after what happened a few weeks ago I was very positive knowing great things were about to happen,” said Rahm, who won his first PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines. in 2017.
“I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I knew we were coming to a special place. I got my decisive victory here and it is a very special place for my family.
“The fact that my parents were able to come, I got out of the Covid protocol early, I just felt like the stars were aligning.”
Rahm dedicated his victory to Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros, who died 10 years ago. Ballesteros won five major titles in his career but never won the US Open.
“I knew my best golf was yet to come and I’m having a hard time explaining what just happened because I can’t believe I made the last two putts and I’m the first Spanish player to win the ‘US Open,’ Rahm continued.
“It’s definitely for Seve – I know he tried a lot, I know he mostly wanted to win this one.”