Having begun the final round of the US PGA Championship tied for second just a month ago, before going on to finish second and fifth, Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick began the final round of the 122nd US Open tied for the lead and vying for favouritism. Defending champion, Jon Rahm, was a shot further back, but it was the US Masters winner, Scottie Scheffler, who was the first to make a move on what transpired to be a sensational Sunday...
Scheffler birdied four of his first six holes to take up the running and the world number one was matched at a low of 1.625/8 on the Betfair Exchange but just like he'd done when he hit the front on Saturday, he lost his way around the turn, bogeying both the 10th and the 11th holes.
Having been matched at as high as 55.054/1, following bogeys at two and three, pre-event 34.033/1 chance, Zalatoris, was the next man to go odds-on when he went two strokes clear with a birdie at the par three 11th (his fourth birdie in six holes), as Fitzpatrick bogeyed 10 and 11, but he missed the next two fairways and Fitzpatrick was level again when he drained this monster birdie putt at 13.
Fitzpatrick, a pre-event [32,0] chance, followed the birdie at 13 with another at 15 to go two clear. He was matched at just 1.162/13 but Scheffler and Zalatoris refused to yield.
Scheffler, among the pre-event favourites at 18.017/1, birdied the 17th to get within a stroke before Zalatoris made a two at the par three 16th to close to within one and when Fitzpatrick found sand off the tee on the 72nd hole, he drifted out to 1.758/11.
We haven't witnessed a playoff at the US Open since 2008 but extra time looked likely until Fitzpatrick produced this piece of magic and his price plunged back down to 1.171/6.
After Fitzpatrick had tapped in for par to post a six-under-par 274 total, Zalatoris, who had left his birdie putt on 17 in the jaws, narrowly missed his birdie chance on 18 and the celebrations began in earnest for Fitzpatrick and his caddie, Billy Foster.
The whole Fitzpatrick family were chuffed to bits for Billy, who, despite carrying the bag for some of the world's best during his long and distinguished career, was winning his first major too.
As fantastic as it was to see Fitzpatrick win, it was impossible not to feel for Zalatoris who is still in search of his first PGA Tour title, and he's now finished runner-up at three of the four majors!
Jon Rahm, who was matched at just 2.89/5 when he hit the front after 17 holes on Saturday, was a disappointment on Sunday, dropping from solo third and one back to tied 12th, beaten by seven, and Rory McIlroy, who was matched in-running at a low of 4.84/1, was always up against it after he struggled to a battling 73 on Saturday.
Fitzpatrick is the 13th player to win the US Amateur and the US Open and he and Jack Nicklaus are the only two to win the two titles at the same venue. Nicklaus won both at Pebble Beach. He's the first from outside the United States to win both the US Amateur and the US Open and it's quite an achievement given nine of the previous 12 to achieve the feat are Hall of Famers.
Fitzpatrick is only the fourth Englishman to win the US Open and he's the first man to win his first PGA Tour title in a major since fellow Sheffielder, Danny Willett, won the US Masters in 2016.
We've been lucky enough to witness a wave of talent emerge on the back of the sensational Tiger Woods era and this next generation aren't scared to win the big titles. Fitzpatrick is the fifth major champion in-a-row in their 20s and that's the first time that's happened since the 1920s.
Fitzpatrick ticked plenty of trends boxes and only Sungjae Im scored better in Dave Tindall's 10-year trends piece but he was also just fractionally too short for me.
I've written plenty of times about the importance of getting with your major selections early if they're playing the week before and the Canadian Open was a perfect demonstration of why. The first three home in Canada - Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau and Justin Thomas - all shortened up considerably and Fitzpatrick's price to win here didn't budge, even though he finished 10th having sat second after rounds one and two. If he'd have drifted I'd I've been on but his price just didn't shift at all, despite what was quite a disappointing weekend.
This year's result demonstrated perfectly why those that contend the week before get supported as you can't just roll up to the US Open and find your game from nowhere.
Collin Morikawa, who was matched at a low of 3.7511/4, had finished fifth at the US Masters back in April, but he and Adam Hadwin were the only players in the top-nine not to have a top-five finish in any of their previous four outings. And one could reasonably argue that it was Morikawa's lack of current form that caught him out in the tough conditions on Saturday when he fell form tied first to tied 17th thanks to a dreadful 77 in round three.
Hadwin had been an alternate at Brookline and he only got in because Martin Kaymer withdrew. His current form wasn't anything to write home about but he did have three top-tens in-a-row in March and April.
Here are the form figures for the top-nine prior to the off.
1 Matthew Fitzpatrick - 2-5-MC-10
T2 Will Zalatoris - MC-2-MC-5
T2 Scottie Scheffler - 15-MC-2-18
4 Hideki Matsuyama - W-14-3-60
T5 Collin Morikawa - 29-55-40-MC
T5 Rory McIlroy - 5-8-18-1
T7 Denny McCarthy - 25-48-27-5
T7 Adam Hadwin - MC-71-18-35
T7 Keegan Bradley - 4-2-48-37
Attention will now shift to the 150th staging of the Open Championship at St Andrews and unsurprisingly, Rory McIlroy is the early favourite on the Betfair Exchange at 10.09/1. Fitzpatrick is 25.024/1 to make it two Majors in a row.
There's plenty of golf to enjoy before then though and we've got a couple of nice events this week for starters with the BMW International Open on the DP World Tour and the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour. I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my previews.
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