US Open drama begins with McIlroy chasing fifth major win
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a second shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course) on June 20, 2021 in San Diego, California.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP

US Open drama begins with McIlroy chasing fifth major win

(Agence France-Presse) - June 21, 2021 - 7:08am

LA JOLLA – Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy teed off in Sunday's final round of the 121st US Open trying to snap a seven-year major win drought by chasing down a trio of co-leaders.

South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, shared the 54-hole lead with Canada's Mackenzie Hughes and American Russell Henley, all on five-under 208 at Torrey Pines.

McIlroy, who ended an 18-month US PGA win drought last month, was two strokes off the pace, level with defending champion Bryson DeChambeau.

McIlroy, who played himself into contention with a four-under 67 on Saturday, has never won a major when trailing after 36 holes.

The 32-year-old from Northern Ireland won his first major 10 years ago at the US Open at Congressional, then captured the 2012 PGA Championship and back-to-back majors at the 2014 British Open and PGA Championship.

World number 11 McIlroy has managed two top-10 major finishes each year since without a victory, but hoped to end that futility on the oceanside layout where Tiger Woods won the 2008 US Open.

McIlroy, who ended his US PGA win drought at Quail Hollow last month on Mother's Day, could win the US Open on the first Father's Day since he became a dad with the birth of daughter Poppy last August.

Four other major winners were among 13 golfers under par for 54 holes, but the one to catch was Oosthuizen, who has had five runner-up major finishes since his only major win 11 years ago at St. Andrews.

World no. 18 "Oosty" is 1-for-2 with 54-hole major leads, his loss coming in a 2015 British Open playoff.

Henley, ranked 63rd, hasn't won a US PGA event since 2017 and has never finished in the top-10 of a major in 26 attempts.

Hughes, ranked 67th, won his only US PGA title in 2016 at Sea Island and missed the cut in his prior five tour starts before the Open. He also missed the cut in six of his eight prior major starts.

Fifth-ranked DeChambeau, coming off the first bogey-free major round of his career, could become only the third man in the past 70 years to capture back-to-back US Opens after fellow Americans Curtis Strange and Brooks Koepka.

Spain's third-ranked Jon Rahm, chasing his first major title after spending last week in Covid-19 quarantine, began on 2-under and opened with back-to-back birdies.

Rahm sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the first hole and dropped his approach at the second to 2 1/2 feet to set up another that put him one off the lead at 4-under.

Rahm has seven top-10 major finishes without a triumph, his best result a share of third at the 2019 US Open.

He could become the first Spaniard to win the US Open on the same course where he proposed to wife Kelley, who gave birth to their first child, Kepa, in April.

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson and 2020 PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa were in a 1-under pack. No world number one has won a US Open since Woods did it at Torrey Pines.

Four-time major winner Koepka and world number two Justin Thomas were among those who began five adrift on level par.

Thomas birdied the fourth and fifth holes to reach 2-under, tapping in for the first before rolling in a 33-foot putt.

Rahm or Thomas could overtake Johnson for the world number one spot with a victory.

Mickelson disappointed

US left-hander Phil Mickelson, who turned 51 on Wednesday, failed in his bid to complete the career Grand Slam after a 76-75 weekend.

"I'm disappointed I didn't play better," Mickelson said. "I just lost the timing, the rhythm got quick, and started hitting it sideways."

The six-time US Open runner-up became golf's oldest major winner at last month's PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, capturing his sixth major title.

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