U.S. Open takeaways: Rory is ready for Royal St. George's

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June 21st, 2021

Jon Rahm justified being favored to win his first major on the PGA Tour as he beat Louis Oosthuizen by one stroke at Torrey Pines on Sunday. Rahm had been three shots off the lead at the start of the final round, but a four-under-par 67 – including a birdie-birdie finish – secured his first major title.

Here are three things we learned from a rollercoaster week at the 2021 U.S. Open.

Bryson vs. Brooks: Koepka comes out on top

The rivalry between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau continued to brew all week with their bitter feud simmering under the surface of another major. The press dialled up the controversy, and Bryson made sure to photobomb another Koepka interview just to rile him up.

But Brooks had the final laugh.

Going into the final round Bryson was two shots ahead of Brooks and within reach of the top of the leaderboard. Brooks was mounting a charge though, and moved four-under-par through 15 holes, but Bryson was equal to it, and was two-under-par through nine to take the lead of the major.

But it all went wrong for DeChambeau, who went bogey-bogey-double bogey through holes 11, 12, and 13 before quadruple-bogeying the 17th and hitting the ball into a crate of Stella beer. DeChambeau ended the day six-over-par and finished 26th. Koepka, meanwhile, finished tied for fourth.

The two men have played in the same major 17 times, and Brooks has won 15 of them, while they tied the other two. There’s only one winner of this rivalry when you look at that number.

The Diaper Dimension

Of course, Jon Rahm had to go and win on Father’s Day. It was just meant to be. The Diaper Dimension is a theory I’ve long bought into and suggests a golfer’s form will improve marginally after they’ve had their first baby – particularly if it is a boy. It’s a theory backed up by some pretty meaty stats, and I’ve been backing Rahm since he became a dad a couple of days before the Masters in Augusta.

He still turned up to play that event, finishing fifth, and then followed up with a seventh in the Zurich Classic. He then put the entire theory in doubt by missing the cut at Wells Fargo and coming 34th in the AT&T Byron Nelson, but recovered to finish eighth in the PGA Championship before he would have won the Memorial had he not had to withdraw when six shots clear for a positive COVID-19 test.

Rahm did everything right at Torrey Pines. He ranked 12th for driving distance, which was always going to be key here, but also was a solid 28th for driving accuracy, which helped him finish fifth for shots gained off the tee. He was in the top 4 players for greens in regulation, and 21st for shots gained putting.

How’s your luck Louis?

I’m not sure what Louis Oosthuizen has done to deserve this because he seems like a genuinely nice guy. That’s now six runner-up finishes in a major for the South African since he won the 2010 Open Championship, and he hasn’t exactly choked either.

Despite being outside the top 50 longest drivers this week, Oosthuizen defied the trend with some immaculate golf, finishing fourth for shots gained putting and 15th for shots gained in his short game.

This runner-up finish comes hot on the heels of his second place to Phil Mickelson in the PGA Championship and continues an 11 year wait to add another major to his collection.

Rory is ready for Royal St. George’s

Since golf resumed following the enforced COVID-19 break, Rory McIlroy has been constantly tweaking his clubs in an attempt to find extra distance. That seemed to be impacting his game negatively, and then in March he recruited renowned swing coach Pete Cowen, and everything is starting to click.

McIlroy won the Wells Fargo in May (his first title in over a year), and despite a disappointing PGA Championship, he’s went onto play well at the U.S. Open and tied for seventh. He ranked eighth for driving distance and 28th for driving accuracy so there are no problems off the tee, while he ranked eighth as well for greens in regulation to show his short game was up to scratch.

McIlroy carded just three bogeys all week at Torrey Pines, and appears to be in fine form for the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s.

Everything might just be falling into place for the 2014 Open Championship winner to regain the claret jug.