Fifteen days after his preparations were seemingly thrown into disarray, Jon Rahm produced a grandstand finish to claim his first major title in the 121st US Open while Rory McIlroy’s challenge faded on the back nine.
The Spaniard birdied the final two holes at Torrey Pines to complete a closing 67 and finish six under par, a shot ahead of South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen.
Oosthuizen, who also finished runner-up in last month’s US PGA, bogeyed the 17th and needed to eagle the last for the second day running to force a play-off, but was unable to hole out from 69 yards having missed the fairway with his drive.
McIlroy’s bid for a first major title since 2014 unravelled in the closing stages, the Northern Irishman having been part of a four-way tie for the lead following a birdie on the fourth.
McIlroy three putted the 11th and ran up a double bogey on the 12th to effectively end his chances, a closing 73 leaving him in a tie for seventh.
Shane Lowry’s closing round of 79 – which included a double bogey and five bogeys – was a disappointing end to the week for the Offalyman who finished in a tie for 65th at 13 over par and now sets his sights on defending his Open Championship title at Royal St George’s next month.
But this was redemption for Rahm after a tough couple of weeks. He had just completed a sensational third round of 64 in the Memorial Tournament to establish a six-shot lead when he was told beside the 18th green that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
That necessitated a period of self-isolation until two days before play began at Torrey Pines, where he won his first PGA Tour title in 2017 and also proposed to his wife.
And although Rahm received results of two negative tests on Friday and Saturday to allow him to leave isolation early, it was hardly the ideal way to get ready for golf’s toughest major.
Crucially, the 26-year-old handled the situation with an admirable sense of perspective, defending the PGA Tour’s decision to strictly enforce their rules and noting that he still had the positive memories of his form at Muirfield Village to draw upon.
“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,” Rahm said.
“I didn’t know what it was going to be but I knew we were coming to a special place, I knew I got my breakthrough win here and it’s a very special place for my family.
“The fact my parents were able to come, I got out of Covid protocols early, I just felt like the stars were aligning.”
Rounds of 69, 70 and 72 meant he started the final round three shots off the lead but he made the ideal start with birdies on the first and second before making what would prove his only bogey of the day on the fourth.
A wild drive on the ninth looked in danger of being out of bounds, but Rahm was entitled to a free drop away from a fence and, after hitting his second shot down the fairway, spun his approach to within a few feet of the hole to set up an unlikely birdie.
A run of seven straight pars on the back nine meant Rahm still trailed Oosthuizen by a shot as he reached the last two holes, but he holed a curling birdie putt from 25 feet on the 17th and a similar putt on the par-five 18th after finding a bunker with his approach.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau had taken the lead with his second birdie of the day on the eighth, the American coming agonisingly close to making a hole-in-one.
However, DeChambeau imploded on the back nine with two bogeys, a double bogey on the 13th and a quadruple-bogey eight on the 17th, eventually signing for a closing 77.
Earlier in the day, Phil Mickelson’s “unique opportunity” to complete the career grand slam in his home city of San Diego came to an unusual end, almost two hours before the final group was due to tee off.
Mickelson began the week with renewed hope of winning his national open for the first time, but ended it by hitting his approach to the 18th around 70 yards beyond the hole and completing a 75 to finish 11 over par.
The 51-year-old was disappointed not to have played better, but remains confident he can replicate the form which made him the oldest ever major winner in last month’s US PGA Championship.
“There’s some opportunities coming up with the way I’ve been playing that I’m optimistic that I can compete and contend,” the six-time major winner said.
“There’s nothing more fun for me than to be in it on the weekend. I’ve actually been playing well enough to have chances, and we have some good tournaments coming up the next couple of months.
“Afterwards I’ll look back and reminisce when the season’s over and I’ll still have that Wanamaker trophy I’ll be looking at, and I’m still looking to add a friend to it along the line.
“That win was very meaningful to me because I’ve been putting in a lot of work the last couple of years and getting nothing out of it, and so to have a moment like that is something that makes it worthwhile.”
Final scores from the 121st U.S. Open, Torrey Pines (South), San Diego (USA unless stated, Par 71)
The latest storms came just days after parts of the country were hit by devastating floods after torrential rains that ravaged entire villages and left 180 people dead, hundreds injured and with many still missing.
The flooding also caused damage in Belgium, where 37 people died, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
US prosecutors in R Kelly’s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an under-age boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming sex-trafficking trial to hear those claims.
Federal prosecutors aired a wide-ranging raft of additional allegations – but not new charges – against the R&B singer in a court filing on Friday.
Jury selection is due to start August 9th in a New York federal court for Kelly, who denies ever abusing anyone.
The Grammy Award-winning singer is charged with leading what prosecutors call a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who allegedly helped him to recruit women and girls for sex and pornography and to exercise control over them.
The charges involve six different women and girls, who are not named in court filings.
Now, prosecutors would also like jurors to hear about more than a dozen other people whom the government alleges that Kelly sexually or physically abused, threatened or otherwise mistreated.
Among them, the government says, was a 17-year-old boy and aspiring musician whom Kelly met at a McDonald’s in December 2006 and later invited to his Chicago studio.
According to the prosecutors’ court filing, after asking the boy what he would do to make it in the music business, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with him while he was still under-age.
And when Kelly was about to go on trial on child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the same youth told the singer he had access to a juror, and Kelly asked him to contact the juror and vouch he was a “good guy”, prosecutors wrote.
The filing does not say whether the youth did so. Kelly was acquitted in that case.
The boy also introduced Kelly to a 16- or 17-year-old male friend, with whom prosecutors say the singer began a sexual relationship several years later.
Kelly also filmed the two youths in sexual encounters with other people, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, according to the filing.
Prosecutors wrote that the accounts of the boys and others would help show that the actual charges “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern”.
The multiplatinum-selling singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is known for work including the 1996 hit I Believe I Can Fly and the cult classic Trapped In The Closet, a multi-part tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.
Kelly’s private life has drawn scrutiny since the 1990s, and he currently is also facing sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He has pleaded not guilty.– AP
For some areas, the German Weather Service has forecast heavy showers or storms, bringing between 30 and 40 litres per square metre.
Amid further rainfall on Saturday afternoon, evacuation services to emergency accommodation were offered to communities in Rheinland-Palatinate who had been particularly badly affected by the flooding, German news site Merkur reported.
“The people will have to make the decision themselves,” said Begona Hermann, head of the relief teams in the west German state, explaining that the forecast rainfall was not expected to be as severe as that which devastated parts of Germany last week.
However, even lower levels of rainfall could still be a problem because sewage and drainage systems were not working properly because of the flooding.
Earlier on Saturday, police requested all volunteers working on the clean-up operation in the Ahr area to leave as quickly as possible for their own safety because of the difficult conditions.
This came after the police and the crisis management team asked the public not to travel to Rhineland-Palatinate to help out because there were too many people there.
“The population’s willingness to help continues to be undiminished and overwhelming,” read a Kassel police statement on Saturday. Due to the large number of volunteers who came to help out, however, roads in the area are now congested, it said.
Heavy machinery required for road and bridge construction, and for the restoration of the area’s water supply, was getting stuck in traffic jams, the press release said.
Vehicles for removing rubbish and construction debris, as well as emergency and rescue vehicles, were also unable to get through.