SAN DIEGO: Jon Rahm became the fourth Spanish major champion when he finished with two brilliant birdies to capture the U.S. Open on Sunday.
He edged South African Louis Oosthuizen by one stroke in a wild battle of attrition that finally turned into a two-man race as several other contenders came unglued on the difficult back nine at Torrey Pines.
Rahm was the only contender to avoid a bogey on the inward half, and he timed his run perfectly by sinking lengthy, sharply-breaking putts at the 17th and 18th holes.
He shot 67 for a six-under-par 278, and was confirmed as the champion when Oosthuizen was unable to eagle the par-five 18th.
Rahm dedicated his victory to his late countryman Seve Ballesteros, who died a decade ago of brain cancer.
Ballesteros won five majors, but never the U.S. Open.
"This is definitely for Seve. I know he wanted to win this one most of all," said an emotional Rahm moments after clinching the title.
The win comes a fortnight after Rahm was withdrawn from the Memorial tournament after testing positive for coronavirus before the final round. He had a six-shot lead at the time.
"I'm a big believer in karma and after what happened a couple of weeks ago I stayed really positive knowing big things were coming," he said.
"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 is a very special place for my family."
While Rahm celebrated, Oosthuizen pondered another major near-miss.
Though Oosthuizen birdied the final hole for a 71, it was another bitter pill for the likeable South African, who also finished runner-up at last month's PGA Championship, and now has six career second-placings in the four tournaments that comprise the grand slam.
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Additional Writing by Steve Keating; Editing by Toby Davis, Ed Osmond and Richard Pullin)