On Sunday, Jon Rahm won the 121st US Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California.
With his first major victory, Rahm joins an exclusive club, becoming the first Spaniard to win the US Open.
Rahm, the world’s third-ranked golfer, made back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th holes, sinking clutch putts of 24 and 18 feet to take a one-stroke lead into the clubhouse. He had to watch the final groups finish their rounds with trepidation, but no one could match his winning score of six-under par.
Rahm was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, after testing positive for Covid-19 two weeks prior. Rahm found out he was Covid-positive moments after finishing the third round with a six-shot lead over his nearest competitor.
“I’m a big believer in karma, and after what happened a couple weeks ago, I stayed real positive knowing big things were coming. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I knew we were coming to a special place,” Rahm said moments after his victory Sunday.
“I know I got my breakthrough 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 the stars were aligning,” Rahm said.
Rahm holds a special place in his heart for the location of the victory.
He not only won the tournament for the first time at Torrey Pines, but he also proposed to his now-wife there.
The victory was especially meaningful for Rahm because it came on his first Father’s Day as a father. After he was declared the winner, Rahm hugged his infant son and wife.
“It reminds me a lot to back home (sic). It’s not exactly the same, but the coastline, the weather, the temperature, this is basically a good summer day where I grew up,” Rahm said. “I think it’s something that really resonates with me, I’m really confident in it. Everything that’s happened here — I don’t know why — but every time we come here, we’re just happy.”
Rahm was in arguably his best form of his career when he was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament last month.
He had played in 13 PGA Tour events prior to the ZOZO Championship in October 2020, missing the cut only once, finishing in the top five three times, and in the top ten nine times.
Despite withdrawing at Muirfield Village Golf Club and being forced to isolate, Rahm took it in stride and went on to make history.
Rahm started Sunday as one of 13 players within four shots of the lead after a promising first three rounds.
Although the chasing pack, which included Rahm, made numerous birdies on the difficult California course’s front nine, the back nine was a different story, with players struggling to make par.
Rahm kept playing steady golf to stay in contention as one contender after another dropped out.
Others, however, made their moves on Sunday, with Oosthuizen and DeChambeau each taking a share of the lead at one point during the day, only to lose it soon after.
As he neared the end of his round, Rahm’s chance to break away appeared to have passed him by, as he missed birdie opportunities on the 14th and 15th holes, before a wayward drive on the 17th had people wondering if he, too, was slipping away.
The 26-year-old, however, was ecstatic to join Oosthuizen at the top of the leaderboard after a spectacular approach shot and birdie putt.
He made another difficult birdie on the 18th hole to take a one-shot lead, but he had to sit and wait in the clubhouse until the later groups finished to find out if he’d done enough to win.
Rahm celebrated his first major victory with his wife and newborn son, as well as recent PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson, who stayed behind to congratulate the Spaniard after Oosthuizen failed to replicate the magical eagle he made on the final hole on Saturday.
“It’s incredible that I’m sitting next to this trophy,” Rahm said. “A couple weeks ago, I watched my good friend Phil win it. Not this one, but win the PGA, and I took a lot of inspiration from that.
“I’ve been close before, and I just knew on a Sunday, the way I have been playing the last few majors, I just had to be close. I knew I could get it done. I’m keeping that good Sunday mojo going. Man, I got it done in a fashion that apparently can only happen to me at Torrey Pines.”