At the 20th time of asking, Jon Rahm’s quest for a first major finally ended on Sunday evening at Torrey Pines, California, as the Spaniard won the U.S. Open and reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the world rankings.
Rahm shot 4-under par on Sunday, to finish at 6-under for the tournament, one shot ahead of South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, with Harry English of the U.S. two strokes further back.
Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka, last year’s PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa and Italy’s Guido Migliozzi finished four shots behind Rahm at 2-under.
Rahm’s maiden major triumph came with a hefty payout, as the Spaniard pocketed $2.25 million in prize money. The figure matches the payout Bryson DeChambeau received last year, when he won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, New York.
At $12.5 million, the U.S. Open’s purse also equaled last year’s amount at stake, confirming the tournament’s status as the most lucrative of golf’s four majors.
Last month, Phil Mickelson made $2.16 million in prize money after winning the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
The figure was the highest ever paid out to the winner in the history of the tournament, whose total purse this year stood at a tournament record-high $12 million.
By comparison, Hideki Matsuyama received $2.07 million after winning The Masters in April, when the tournament distributed a purse of $11.5 million among the competitors.
The pot for the upcoming British Open next month, meanwhile, stands at $10.7 million.
Among PGA Tour events, only the Tour Championship and the Players’ Championship pay more than the U.S. Open, with prize money for the winner of $15 million and $2.7 million, respectively.
On Sunday, Oosthuizen received $1.35 million for finishing second, while English pocketed $829,084 for placing third. Koepka, Morikawa and Migliozzi each received $498,176 for finishing tied for fourth.
A group of six players including four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and world No. 5 Xander Schauffele received $306,893 for finishing tied for seventh.
The $2.25 million he won at Torrey Pines took Rahm’s career earnings on the PGA Tour to $28.1 million, according to the PGA Tour’s official figures.
Contender at Each of the Majors
Since making his debut at the U.S. Open as an amateur four years ago, the Spaniard developed into a serial contender at each of the four majors.
Up until Sunday, he’d made the cut in 15 of his 19 starts, collecting seven top-10 finishes, which included a tied for-third at the U.S. Open two years ago. Victory, however, had repeatedly eluded him.
That all changed at Torrey Pines, as Rahm lived up to the tag of pre-tournament favorite, courtesy of a couple of stunning birdies in the final two holes.
Trailing Oosthuizen by one shot, Rahm sank a sweeping, left-to-right 25-feet putt to birdie the 17th hole and tie for the lead.
On his final visit of the tournament at the par-five 18th, he curled in an 18-foot birdie to clinch his maiden major.
In the previous 120 editions of the U.S. Open, no player had ever birdied the last two holes to win the tournament. Oosthuizen, who had started the final round three shots ahead of Rahm, fell two shots behind the Spaniard after bogeying the 17th. He closed the gap with birdie at the 18th, but fell agonizingly short again a month after finishing two shots behind Mickelson at the PGA Championship.
The South African has now finished in the top three in the last four majors and has finished second at a major six times since winning the British Open in 2010.
For Rahm, however, it was time to celebrate a long-awaited coronation.
“It felt like such a fairy tale story that I knew it was going to have a happy ending,” the 26-year-old told NBC after lifting the trophy.
“I could just tell, going down the fairway after that first tee shot, that second shot and that birdie, I knew there was something special in the air. I could just feel it.
“I just knew that I could do it and believed it.”