Spain’s Jon Rahm claimed an incredible first major title as he finished with back-to-back birdies on a breathless final day of the 121st US Open.
Rahm, 26, roared at a wall of fans after his putt on the 18th took him to six under and gave him a one-shot lead over South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen.
Oosthuizen, who had four holes to play, bogeyed the 17th meaning he needed to eagle the last but could only birdie.
Rory McIlroy (73) and Bryson DeChambeau (77) challenged but faded late on.
Rahm’s win comes two weeks after he was forced to withdraw from a PGA Tour event he was leading by six shots after three rounds because of a positive coronavirus test.
The Spaniard said his main concern at that time was for his wife and two-month-old baby and it was them he celebrated with first – on his first Father’s Day no less – after the nerveless birdie putt.
“You have no idea what this means right now,” he said to his son Kepa after hearing of Oosthuizen’s closing birdie. “You will soon enough.”
‘The stars were aligning’
The leaderboard was congested after a flurry of birdies on the front nine, but players were fighting to avoid bogeys after the turn.
Oosthuizen was the last to fall when he dropped a shot on the 17th and he could not repeat the sensational eagle he made on the 18th on Saturday, which had given him a share of the overnight lead.
The 38-year-old, who won the 2010 Open Championship, has now finished runner-up in a major on six occasions.
Rahm was the only contender not to drop a shot on the back nine and had seven pars in a row before the grandstand finish saw him become the first Spaniard to win the US Open.
“I’m a big believer in karma and after what happened a couple of weeks ago, I stayed really positive knowing that big things were coming,” 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 breakthrough win here and it’s a very special place for my family.
“The fact my parents were able to come, I got out of Covid protocol early, I just felt like the stars were aligning.”
Rahm dedicated his win to Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros, who died 10 years ago. Ballesteros claimed five major titles in his career but never won the US Open.
“I knew my best golf was to come and I have 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.
“This is definitely for Seve – I know he tried a lot, I know he wanted to win this one most of all.”
More to follow.