LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA | As Maximus the Spaniard in Gladiator would say: “Were you not entertained?”
That U.S. Open finish had everything – dramatic putts, epic meltdowns, karma, heartache, class, petulance, near aces, birdies, doubles, quads, shanks, balls stuck in trees and clanking off flagsticks, a streaker. And much of that was just Bryson DeChambeau.
Seriously, that was one of the more entertaining final rounds of a major championship on a course that was perfectly set up to bring out the best or worst in players under U.S. Open duress. We’ll long remember those two closing putts that Jon Rahm holed and his ferocious punches that put him in the major champions club. But we’ll also remember that there were so many twists and turns in a final round in which so many players had a real chance to step up.
Highlights should be played to the soundtrack of Eminem’s Lose Yourself. Some of these players will only get one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything they ever wanted. One moment. Rahm captured it. Others just let it slip.
Yo! On to the scorecard from another classic at Torrey Pines.
BIRDIE: Jon Rahm. From the day he arrived, Rahm tested positive for good karma. He didn’t bemoan his fate of losing a near-guaranteed Memorial win and $1.7 million because of COVID-19. He came in confident and humble and displaying every attribute of a man ready to win a major. The favorite delivered.
BOGEY: Louis Oosthuizen. One back with the par-5 18th still ahead, Louis had all of La Jolla to the right of him and he went left in the canyon on No. 17. That bogey cost him a real chance to at least force a playoff. He’s now only 13 shy of Jack Nicklaus’ record 19 runner-ups in majors.
BIRDIE: Brooks Koepka. His effort came up a little short, but it needs to be noted that Brooksie has never lost to Bryson DeChambeau at the U.S. Open (he didn’t play last year), and has beaten Bryson in 15 of 17 majors they’ve both competed in. Just saying.
BOGEY: Bryson DeChambeau. Note to all the kids out there. If you’re ever winning something and subsequently start hitting skulls and shanks and end up losing by nine shots, don’t say, “I don’t really care. I’ve already won it.” That’s what the loser in high school says when someone steals his girlfriend.
BIRDIE: Bryson DeChambeau. We all laughed at the defending champ hitting balls into the pitch black on the range Thursday night. All he did was come back and play his way into contention, so what do we know? Also, his leaping photo-bomb of Koepka’s TV interview was pretty funny.
There are no lights on the driving range. It’s been dark for an hour. Here’s a video of Bryson DeChambeau hitting balls in the pitch black pic.twitter.com/HqrJxw1sX1
— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) June 18, 2021
DOUBLE: Ensemble cast. Collin Morikawa, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy, Mackenzie Hughes, Scottie Scheffler and DeChambeau all made a double (or worse) on the back nine in contention. Rule No. 1: Eliminate the big number.
PAR: Dustin Johnson. He avoided becoming the first world No. 1 to miss the cut in three consecutive majors, and actually made a cameo on the weekend leaderboard before he flamed out fast.
BOGEY: 54-hole leaders. None of the three won. Russell Henley slept three nights on the lead but slowly bled out with six bogeys Sunday. Hughes suffered “a million-to-one break” when his ball bounced and got stuck in a tree on 11, killing his hopes.
BOGEY: Architecture nerds. The way some design snobs gripe about the Rees Jones remodeling elements of “boring Torrey,” you’d think they were competing on some manicured cow pasture. All Torrey Pines ever does is put on one helluva beautiful show in terms of drama and scenery.
BOGEY: The streak. Streakers aren’t what they used to be. A man wearing a pride cape and shorts ran onto the 13th fairway in front of DeChambeau, hit a couple of balls, danced and ducked away from security before being tackled and led away.
— Sean Zak (@Sean_Zak) June 20, 2021
BIRDIE: The Molinari brothers. Francesco (T13) and Edoardo (T35) both broke par in the opening round and made the cut. It was the fourth time in 13 tries they’ve both made a cut in the same major. They each finished top 15 in the 2014 British Open.
BIRDIE: The Ortiz brothers. Not all family fairy tales have happy endings. Carlos (6 over) and Alvaro (15 over) both missed the cut just 31 miles from the border to their native Mexico.
BOGEY: Flagsticks. So many prominent players – McIlroy, Sergio García, Jon Rahm and Russell Henley on Saturday alone – hit the pins and bounced into relative trouble considering the quality of the shots they’d hit. On Sirius radio, Gary McCord recommended the USGA develop holographic targets.
BIRDIE: Guido Migliozzi. Not a character from The Sopranos. The 24-year-old Italian playing in his first major shot a Sunday 68 to vault into fourth place and secure himself a spot in the 2022 Masters in April.
TRIPLE: Brian Harman. The left-hander made another major leaderboard appearance with a couple of early birdies Saturday. Then on No. 6, he four-putted from 5 feet, 5 inches, missing subsequent putts from 3 feet and 15 inches.
PAR: Southpaws. While six of the eight left-handers in the field made the cut, still no lefty has won the U.S. Open. Sorry Phil Mickelson fans. Maybe he can do it at age 52 at Brookline.
BIRDIE: Mike Davis. The outgoing USGA chief executive officer picked up a bib and a carry bag and schlepped across Torrey Pines on Saturday as caddie for non-competing marker Jason Gore. “My next career,” Davis said when someone outside the ropes asked what he was doing. He also announced the final pairing on Sunday.
BOGEY: Webb Simpson. He led the active list with 16 consecutive cuts made in majors before shooting 79-73 and leaving early, handing the active major cut streak to hard-luck Oosthuizen with 13.
BOGEY: Justin Rose. Coming off top-10s at the Masters and the PGA Championship, Rose made 13 bogeys and zero birdies in his first 28 holes on the way to a MC on a Torrey Pines course where he won the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open at 21 under.
BIRDIE: Peter Millar swim trunks. Among the very cool items in the merchandise tent, the colorful trunks with either pink lizards or small guitars stood out. For only $89, you also got a matching Koozie for no extra charge.
BOGEY: Hayden Buckley. The Korn Ferry Tour player had his moment in the California sun with a first-round 69 to sit T5 overnight. The next day he shot 82 and went home. U.S. Opens are hard, man.
BOGEY: USGA PR. It’s a bad look when the governing body sends out an e-mail calling its co-leaders “journeymen” in a headline, especially when one of those leaders is a former Walker Cupper and three-time PGA Tour winner with $17 million in career earnings who won his first tour start in 2013.
BIRDIE: Paragliders. The Torrey Pines Gliderport is next to the 12th green at the South Course, and it was busy on the weekend with numerous sails hovering along the cliffs adding color and giving the gliders a bird’s-eye view of the action on the fourth hole.
BOGEY: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The fighter jets were particularly busy buzzing the course all week and disrupting interviews. But they missed their cue for a scheduled flyover during the trophy presentation, leaving the presenters hanging for more than a minute.
Top: Jon Rahm celebrates after making a birdie putt on his final hole of the 2021 U.S. Open. Photo: John Mummert, USGA
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