We hope all you dads out there had a great Father’s Day, but we’re pretty sure your Sunday wasn’t quite as good as Jon Rahm’s. Unless you won the U.S. Open as well? If so, congrats!
Sunday at Torrey Pines had all the ingredients for drama; we just weren’t sure how they’d come together. An hour after the leaders teed off, 15 players were within three shots of the lead. But slowly but surely, the thick rough swallowed up the pretenders. Collin Morikawa made a double on the par-5 13th, Rory McIlroy played Nos. 11-12 in three over, and Bryson DeChambeau somehow turned a 63-hole lead into a T-26.
Only Jon Rahm never took his foot off the gas. After receiving a great break left of the 9th fairway, he played steady U.S. Open golf. Seven pars later, though, he must have known he needed to make a move, especially with Louis Oosthuizen hanging tough at -5. Right on cue, Rahm elicited two roars from the gallery: a 24-footer on 17 and an 18-footer on 18, both for birdie. He posted -6.
Playing three groups behind him, Oosthuizen yanked his drive on No. 17 into the canyon and made bogey. He needed an eagle on the 72nd hole to tie, but it wasn’t meant to be for the perpetual major championship bridesmaid.
This was the 26-year-old Spaniard’s first major victory, and he got it on the same course where he won his first professional title.
Sunday was a long time coming for Jon Rahm. He might be young still, but he has been absolutely elite ever since he turned pro at the age of 21. For the past year, DataGolf’s model has consistently rated him the best golfer in the world. And yet, as Will Knights wrote last November, Rahm had never truly contended for a major championship. Going into this week, he had seven major top 10s but no real close calls. That changed on Sunday. Seeing the tournament within reach, he bucked up and made big-time putts.
Two weeks ago, Rahm faced one of the biggest disappointments of his career. He held a six-shot lead through 54 holes of the Memorial Tournament but had to pull out because of a positive Covid test. (He revealed earlier this week that, while he had been vaccinated at the time, he was still within the two-week waiting period.) Just 15 days later, after quarantine and five days of negative tests, Rahm managed to get himself into the biggest spot of his career, and he stuck the landing. It was damn impressive.
Sunday could be the beginning of Jon Rahm’s second act. Not only did he become a major champion and regain the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, but he proved he could overcome the mental hurdles that previously seemed to trip him up. Perhaps this was the shot of confidence he needed to rack up a few more majors and become golf’s next dominant star.
Two is the Oostiest number – On the receiving end of Jon Rahm’s mighty blows on Sunday was Louis Oosthuizen, who collected his sixth major runner-up. And man, for a while at Torrey Pines, it felt like it was his day. With everyone falling apart around him, Oosthuizen rolled in par after par. But pars weren’t quite enough in the face of Rahm’s closing flurry. The South African plays a beautiful game and carries himself with grace, so all these close calls really hurt the soul. We’re rooting for him to collect one more major trophy before his time is up.
T-26? – As usual, Bryson DeChambeau was one of the most talked-about players before the tournament, and he justified the hype. DeChambeau started Sunday just two off the pace, and when he arrived at the 11th tee, he had the lead. By the time he reached the 14th tee, he was out of contention. It was an unexpected ejection for the beefy thrasher, but don’t let seven bad holes fool you. Bryson’s bomb-and-gouge style 100% works at long, narrow setups. He will be a favorite in U.S. Opens as long as the USGA sticks to that style.
The others – All in the mix at some point in the final round, Collin Morikawa (T-4), Brooks Koepka (T-4), and Rory McIlroy (T-7) crumbled down the stretch. That’s major championship golf for ya.
Experience is what you get when… – Things moved fast for Mackenzie Hughes and Russell Henley on Sunday. Tied for the lead after 54 holes, Henley shot 76 to fall to T-13 while Hughes fired 77 and ended up T-15
Look what I found – Harris English finished third at the U.S. Open, though you wouldn’t have known he was even in the tournament until everyone started to collapse on Sunday. English birdied three of his final five holes to jump more than 10 spots on the leaderboard and record his best ever major finish.
The Guido – Speaking of career bests, rising Italian star Guido Migliozzi fist-pumped his way to a final-round 68 and a tie with Koepka and Morikawa at T-4. Not only was this Migliozzi’s first top five in a major; it was his first major! Now No. 72 in the OWGR and No. 11 in the European Ryder Cup standings, the 24-year-old is officially on the international radar.
One final thing – We’ve said our piece about Torrey Pines, and we don’t need to continue harping on it. But one more thing: please do not let yesterday’s dramatic final round convince you that this golf course needs to host more major championships. Final rounds are dramatic; that’s what they are. And great golfers do great things, no matter where they’re playing. We see Torrey every year at the Farmers Insurance Open. That’s great! And it’s enough.
Nelly Korda shot 62-67 to come from behind and win the Meijer LPGA Classic for her second victory of 2021. Leona Maguire, In Gee Chun, Brittany Altomare, and Anna Nordqvist rounded out the top 5. Leaderboard
Even with rounds of 64-63 to start the event, Harry Hall needed a final-round 67 to close out the Wichita Open on the Korn Ferry Tour. Hall edged Curtis Thompson by one shot and Ollie Schniederjans and Brett Drewitt by two. Leaderboard
Waiting for Louis Oosthuizen to finish, Jon Rahm headed out to the range at Torrey Pines. Jon’s wife Kelley and their two-month-old son Kepa joined him with the help of Phil Mickelson, a longtime mentor to the Spaniard. It was a cool scene and one the family will surely treasure forever. “Little man, you have no idea what this means right now,” Rahm said to his son. “You will soon enough.”
Rory Sabbatini’s mission to qualify for the Olympics by becoming a Slovakian citizen is complete.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Registrations for two of our events open on Tuesday! The Regatta at White Bear Yacht Club will be held on 9/13 while The Aftermath at Pine Hills CC will take place on 9/27, the day after the Ryder Cup and right up the road from Whistling Straits. Mark your calendars: registrations open on Tuesday, June 22 at 12 p.m. ET.
Shotgun Start: Sunday at the U.S. Open: Rahm’s win, Bryson “off the rails,” and Torrey postmortem
After a brief wait for the flyover to clear through, Andy and Brendan begin with the last episode on the 2021 U.S. Open. It’s been a week, but they’re giddy following an afternoon of bunched (constipated) leaderboard maneuvering and some unexpected extracurriculars, like Bryson coming undone, a streaker, a box of beer somehow being on the premises, and a ball in a tree. They start first with Rahm, his “firing at flags” approach and of course the final two putts. There’s chatter about what’s to come, but mostly it’s an appreciation of what just happened. They express sympathy for the Mattress King, though Brendan doesn’t fully absolve him because of the drive at 17. The Bryson circus is re-lived, from a tie for the lead to T-26, with amusing quotes about how it was really just one unlucky break or two between that and getting to 7 or 8-under. Rory, all of it, is addressed. They close with a postmortem on Torrey Pines, why people can’t seem to understand why a good or bad leaderboard does not equal a good or bad golf course, and a few other things they liked and didn’t like from the muni setup. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
While the cotton “#1 Dad” hats are nice, they’re not what you need for the golf course. Get a Fried Egg performance or bucket hat and stay cool on the links!