Opinion: Rahm Rebounds for U.S. Open Victory


Courtesy of Associated Press

Jon Rahm gives a passionate fist pump after making a birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the United States Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California. 

Jacob Artz, Staff Writer

John Rahm’s clutch putting on the 71st and 72nd holes of the 121st United States Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California was a sight to behold. Unfortunately, however, it was set up two weeks earlier in even more dramatic fashion. Two weeks earlier, Jon Rahm was dominating the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide and was poised to win his second straight Memorial Tournament. He had a six-shot lead after 54 holes and had one round left to complete the defense of his title. However, walking off the 18th green on Saturday, PGA Tour officials told Rahm he had to withdraw from the tournament due to a positive COVID-19 test.  Rahm knew he was under contract tracing but had tested negative every day during the week. The positive test could not have come at a worse time as Rahm was almost a sure bet to win given his strong play the first three rounds of the Memorial Tournament, but life had other ideas.

Many golfers would not have handled the situation as well or as mature as Rahm did.  Some golfers would have complained about the PGA Tour policy or others would have wallowed in misery considering Rahm was cruising to a win. Rahm handled the unfortunate situation with class as he reflected in a statement about how his family was safe and how he was looking forward to the showdown in the final round where Patrick Cantlay beat Collin Morikawa in a playoff to secure his second Memorial Tournament title in three seasons.  This bizarre situation set a phenomenal, pressure packed, and unpredictable final round of the U.S. Open.

The United States Open is known as the toughest test in golf where the golf course is stressed to its limits by the United States Golf Association. This is because of the thick rough that penalizes any shot that deviates from the fairway, tight fairways that look like golfers are hitting to a one-way street, and firm and fast greens. These firm and fast greens demand the player to hit shots into the green that are controlled and putting that marries the speed of the ball with the line chosen depending on the slope of the green. The final round commenced with three players sharing the lead in Russell Henley, Mackenzie Hughes, and Louis Oosthuizen.  Henley and Hughes were both unproven in major championships so the serious golf fan knew the pressure of a U.S. Open Sunday would get to them and it did as they struggled to a tie for 13th and 15th respectively.  Louis Oosthuizen was the man to beat as he has one major championship to his name in the 2010 Open Championship and has secured runner up finishes in all four major championships.  Unfortunately for Oosthuizen, he would earn another runner up finish despite his stellar play as Rahm was just one shot better.

Rahm has fond memories of Torrey Pines as he holed a 50 feet eagle putt on the 72nd hole of the annual PGA Tour event, the Farmers Insurance Open, for his first PGA Tour victory per ESPN.com. On Sunday, he secured his first major championship with two clutch putts on the 71st and 72nd holes.  Rahm was down by a stroke to Oosthuizen heading into the 71st hole and birded the last two holes to win per ESPN.com.  This is the first time in U.S. Open history that the champion birdied the last two holes to win per ESPN.com.  Rahm earned the victory as he shot a four under 67 in the final round.

The U.S. Open Sunday was one to remember as many top players in the world had a shot to win America’s national championship.  Six players had a piece of the lead at one point and ten payers were within a shot of lead per ESPN.com.  Jon Rahm stood above them all as he did not drop a shot on the second nine as four players who were within one shot of the lead made a double bogey per ESPN.com.  Jon Rahm prevailed in this dramatic U.S. Open and completed a storybook ending.