RAHMBO proved an unstoppable force at Torrey Pines, as Jon Rahm emerged from his coronavirus nightmare with a dream US Open triumph.
Rahm, 26, was cruelly denied back-to-back victories at the Memorial when he failed a Covid-19 test after a dazzling third round 64 had set him powering into a six shot lead.
Jon Rahm won his first major with a stunning victory at the US Open[/caption]
Rahm sunk two brilliant putts on 17 and 18 to earn a one-shot victory at Torrey Pines[/caption]
He was forced into isolation, and spent the next ten days plotting his ‘revenge’ – and took it on one of the game’s biggest stages.
Rahm, 26, started three shots off the lead, but a birdie-birdie start was a deafening declaration of intent.
And while most of his rivals were going through the agonies of trying to balance bogeys with birdies on a course that was playing hard-to-get, the ice-cool Rahm kept pulling off superb ups and downs for par – before making his decisive move on the par four 17th.
He sank a curling 24 footer with no less than ten feet of break to join long time leader Louis Oosthuizen for par, knowing that would ramp up the pressure on his only rival, who still had plenty of tough holes to negotiate.
And Rahm landed the killer blow on the final green, this time sinking an 18 footer that left Ooisthuizen needing birdies.,
It provided too much to ask for the unlucky South African, who has now finished runner-up six times in the Majors since his 2010 Open win.
His hopes ended when he had to take a penalty drop after hoiking his tee shot into a ravine at the 17th, leaving Rahm to embrace wife Kelley, and their son, Kepa Cahill, born just a week before the Masters.
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Louis Oosthuizen birdied 18 but it wasn’t enough to catch Rahm[/caption]
The thunderous fist pumps that greeted each of Rahm’s closing birdies showed just how much this win meant to him.
And it came on the course where his ‘story’ began. He sank a monster eagle putt on the 72nd hole at Torrey to win the 2107 Farmers Insurance Open, the first of his 11 – make that 12 – professional victories.
Just as he did four years ago, when he sank a monster eagle putt at the 72nd hole to clinch victory, Rahm earned a standing ovation from the California crowds. They have clearly taken him to their hearts.
Rahm commented: “I’m a big believer in Karma, and after what happened a couple of weeks ago I stayed positive and knew big things would happen – but I didn’t know what.
“I just knew we were coming to a special place, the one where I got my breakthrough victory, and with my parents over from Spain for this week it just seemed like the stars were aligned.
“I still don’t know how I made those last two birdies putts, but I am so proud to be the first Spanish golfer to win the US Open.”
But while Rahm was on cloud nine, Rory McIlroy had that sinking feeling, yet again.
The deep bunkers at Torrey Pines must have felt like quicksand to McIlroy, as they swallowed his hopes of finally ending his seven year Major championship famine.
McIlroy was still right in the hunt at the US Open as he stood on the 12th tee, despite a three-putt bogey at 11 – his first dropped shot of the round – just a shot behind eventual winner Rahm.
But McIlroy’s tee shot found the sand – and from close to the lip he sent his approach into a plugged lie on the downslope of a greenside trap, leaving him a near-impossible shot to find the green.
He took a full-blooded swipe to try to gouge it out, but a semi-shank sent his ball hurtling into another bunker, and the inevitable double bogey meant McIlroy’s race was run.
The 12th has consistently proved one of the three toughest holes on the course – yet McIlroy had birdied it on each of the three previous days.
He would have bitten your hand off for just a par this time, and the Northern Irishman was clearly deflated as he signed for a two over par 73, and a share of seventh place.
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So the former world No 1 will head to Royal St George’s for next month’s Open still looking for that elusive fifth Major title.
But only McIlroy’s most devout supporters – or Oosthuizen’s – would begrudge Rahm his victory.
Sometimes the golfing goods really do give back, as well as taking away.