Former Cal golfer Collin Morikawa put himself in position to win his second major title, but ultimately it was Jon Rahm who survived a stretch-run battle of golfing titans Sunday to win the U.S. Open and capture his first major title.
Midway through the final round, the leaderboard looked like a who’s-who list of the best golfers in the world.
Morikawa was part of a contending group that included Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen, a collection of stars that competed down the back nine of the final round at the Torrey Pines South course in San Diego.
The would-be contenders with lesser resumes had fallen by the wayside, but the big boys also faltered in the closing holes under the intense pressure of Sunday play in a major.
Morikawa, who began the day four strokes off the lead, got himself within one stroke of the lead midway through his round and stayed close until a double-bogey 7 on the 13th hole put him four strokes behind and took him out of contention.
Ultimately it was Rahm who held his nerves best, recording a final-round score of 4-under-par 67, leaving him at 6 under par of the tournament. Long birdie putts on the 17th and 18 holes enabled the Spaniard to finish one shot ahead of Oosthuizen, who wound up in second place in a major for the sixth time following his lone major triumph in the 2010 U.S. Open.
Rahm carried his 2-month old son off the 18th green on Father's Day. He had been playing outstanding golf recently. He led The Memorial by six strokes after three rounds two weeks ago but had to withdraw before the final round after testing positive for COVID-19.
"I'm a big believer in karma," Rahm said. "After what happened two weeks ago . . . I just thought the stars were aligned here. I don't know why, but every time we come here we're happy."
Morikawa added a bogey on his 15th hole after his misstep on the 13th before finishing with a birdie on No. 18. His closing round of 1-under-par 70 put him at 2-under for the tournament, leaving him tied for fourth place, four shots behind the winner. It is Morikawa's second straight top-10 finish in a major after tying for eighth place in the recent PGA Championship, an event he won in 2020.
He was not the only big-time player who struggled at the end.
DeChambeau had the lead late in the day and seemed on his way to a second straight U.S. Open title, but bogeys on the 11th and 12th followed by a double bogey on the 13th quickly put him out of the race. He added a quadruple-bogey 8 on No. 17 as he unraveled to a final-round score of 6-over-par 77. After being 5-under and atop the field midway through the final round, he finished the tournament at 3-over.
McIlroy was undone by a bogey on No. 11 followed by a double bogey on No. 12.
Koepka bogeyed the 16th and 18th to ruin his chances.
Rahm did not falter, becoming the first Spaniard to win the U.S. Open.
He trailed for nearly the entire tournament this week, but birdied the 17th hole to tie Oosthuizen for the lead, then birdied the 18th with another long putt to take the lead. Oosthuizen, playing behind Rahm,
Morikawa got himself in contention early in the day.
Morikawa birdied the second hole, putting him at 2-under for the tournament and three strokes off the lead. He then birdied the fourth hole as well, leaving him just two strokes off the pace, although the two leaders had yet to start their round.
Morikawa's great shot on second hole that led to a birdie:
He had a birdie putt rim around the cup and fail to fall on the sixth hole, keeping him two shots behind. Then Morikawa missed a short birdie putt on the eighth hole as well, but a Henley bogey on No. 6 dropped Henley into a first-place tie with McIlroy, DeChambeau and Oosthuizen, one stroke ahead of a group of six that included Morikawa, Rahm and Koepka.
Just seconds after DeChambeau birdied the eighth hole to take sole possession of the lead, Morikawa made a birdie putt on No. 9 to stay just one shot off lead and joining McIlroy and Oosthuizen in second place.
Oosthuizen tied DeChambeau for the lead, then Oosthuizen suddenly took a two-shot lead on the field when he birdied No. 10 just seconds after DeChambeau bogeyed No. 11.
Mirokawa was within a stroke after finishing his eighth hole.
Morikawa's final-round scorecard:
Here is the scoreboard midway through final round -- an all-star list.
Cover photo of Collin Morikawa by Orlando Ramirez, USA TODAY Sports
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