The Punter's US Open De-Brief: Redoubtable Rahm bags his first major

Jon Rahm
It's major no.1 for Jon Rahm - he is now favourite to win The Open next month

Spain's Jon Rahm came out on top of the US Open leaderboard after a classic final round. Steve Rawlings has the in-play highs and lows from the Betfair Exchange in his review...

"Having began the final round trading at around 13.012/1, Rahm was trailing by two as he stood on the ninth tee but after a marshal had signalled that his wayward drive had gone out of bounds off the tee, he was matched at a high of 60.059/1."

The US Open venues up until 2027 have been chosen already but it surely won't be long before the South Course at Torrey Pines is back on the rota.

Following the 2008 classic when Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff, last week's US Open will be remembered as one of the greatest ever witnessed.

Russell Henley, Mackenzie Hughes, and Louis Oosthuizen had begun the fourth and final round two clear of the remainder, but the trio all dropped shots early on as others made their moves and a third of the way through the final round, ten players were separated by a single stroke. And five of them were inside the world's top-ten.

With recent US Open form figures reading 1-1-2, Brooks Koepka was the biggest early mover from off the pace and he was matched at a low of 4.47/2. Bryson DeChambeau hit the front, after very nearly making an ace at the par three eighth, and he was matched at a low of just 2.727/4, but as the final two-balls reached halfway, it was clear that someone needed to do something special to win. The cream had most certainly risen to the top and the top-six on the leaderboard were the world numbers three, four, five, ten, 11 and 18.

Ten years and a day since he won his US Open at rain-softened Congressional, Rory McIlroy was backed at a low of 3.259/4 as he hit the front towards the end of his front nine. Collin Morikawa hit a low of 5.69/2 as he made a charge, but the back-nine of the South Course at Torrey Pines is the sternest of tests and class acts, Koepka, Morikawa, McIlroy and DeChambeau were all punished severely.

Koepka bogeyed two of the last three to shoot a one-over-par 37 across the back-nine, Morikawa birdied the last to shoot a two-over-par 38, a ragged Rory shot 39, and poor DeChambeau completely imploded. Having led at the turn, the defending champion played the back-nine in eight-over-par to finish tied for 26th!

Huge slice of luck for Rahm

Prior to all that carnage, the pre-event 12.011/1 favourite, Jon Rahm, who'd trailed by three with a round to go, caught the biggest of breaks on the par five ninth.

Having began the final round trading at around 13.012/1, Rahm was trailing by two as he stood on the ninth tee but after a marshal had signalled that his wayward drive had gone out of bounds off the tee, he was matched at a high of 60.059/1.

That was a bit of an overaction but anyone that layed the big numbers had every right to be aggrieved when it transpired that his ball had come to rest at the bottom of the temporary fence and after taking a free drop, Rahm made the most of his break to record a bogey four.

After a slow start, pre-event 60.059/1 chance, Louis Oosthuizen, made back-to-back birdies at nine and ten to go two clear of Rahm and the rallying Hughes and he was matched at 1.824/5 but he followed the two birdies with a bogey at 11, as Hughes caught a terrible break with his stinker of a tee-shot, or should that be tree-shot?

Harris English birdied 14, 17 and 18 to post -3 and with everyone bar Rahm and Oosty falling by the wayside, he was matched at a low of 20.019/1, but when Rahm played a quite brilliant approach shot from a fairway bunker on 17, before rolling in his birdie putt from 25 feet, we were down to two contenders.

Eventful 18th as Rahm seals the win

With the two tied, Rahm went odds-on with just the par five 18th to play and he hit 1.374/11 after a terrific drive. The Spaniard had eagled the hole to win his first event on the PGA Tour, the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open, and a birdie four was a long odds-on chance until he hit his second shot.

Rahm leaked his second shot into a bunker, right of the green, and when it was soon clear that his lie was poor - on a downslope with the green running away from him. The favourites flip-flopped and Oosthuizen was matched at his lowest price of 1.84/5 but Rahm hit another fabulous bunker shot before doing this from 18 feet!

Rahm was matched at 1.3130/100 just after the birdie putt on 18 dropped but it wasn't a done deal. Oosthuizen trailed by just a stroke with four to play and the par five 18th was playing as the second easiest hole on the course. Another Torrey Pines tie and the first US Open playoff since 2008 was a distinct possibility but when Oosty drove into the barranca off the 17th tee, the writing was on the wall and us poor souls in the UK could finally get some kip.

My Bets

Pre-event pick, Xander Schauffele, was matched at a low of 5.14/1 during the second round but he was disappointing after that and my small and tentative in-play picks all failed but I'm actually quite happy with the result.

I'm a bit frustrated I didn't get Rahm onboard in-between rounds as he was a fair price throughout but I clawed a few pounds back trading the final round, thanks mainly to taking a position on English once he'd posted his score, and I'm content that I didn't get too involved.

US Opens usually thin out quite quickly and with strong historical trends they tend to be decent events to trade but this one was a minefield throughout and there's absolutely no shame in taking it easy and waiting for better opportunities to come along.

It was a marvellous spectacle but nobody could have confidently predicted the outcome at any stage prior to the last hour so I'm quite pleased that I didn't get too involved.

I felt as though lady luck was against me with a couple of my side market bets. I opposed Cameron Smith with Justin Rose but he was awful. Smith missed the cut but Rose missed it by miles and I couldn't believe my Top Frenchman bet didn't win.

Having shot +8 for the first two rounds, the out of form Victor Perez, was heading home and the last time I looked on Friday night, Paul Barjon, who teed off more than six hours after Perez, looked like making the cut and winning the bet easily. He led Perez by four strokes as he made the turn but came home in 42 to lose by a stroke!

Fortunately, I've been a big Guido Migliozzi fan for a while now and given I'd backed him to finish inside the top-20 at 14.013/1, his tied fourth pretty much saved the week.

Trends Ticked at Torrey Pines

Although major champions dominated the leaderboard on Sunday, following Rahm's win, 16 of the last 23 majors have been won by a first-timer.

Yet again power prevailed and with a Driving Distance ranking of 12th and a Driving Accuracy ranking of 28th, Rahm became the 14th US Open winner in 18 years to rank higher for distance than they did for accuracy.

The previous ten winners had an average Greens In Regulation ranking of 5.2 and after he'd found more greens over the weekend than he'd done over the first two rounds, Rahm finished the week ranked tied for fourth for GIR and once again, up with the pace was the place to be.

Rahm slipped back into a tie for sixth with a round to go but that was as far from the lead as he ended any round and he ended every round within three strokes of the lead.

The likes of Rory, DeChambeau, Koepka and Morikawa all threw their hats in the ring on Sunday following a disappointing round but it was noticeable that the worst 18-hole score by the front three was a one-over-par 72. Just one poor round is usually enough to trip you up.

Morikawa managed to finish tied for fourth after an opening four-over-par 75 but that was the round shot by anyone inside the top-12. Paul Casey, who finished tied seventh also shot 75 in round three.

Rahm is now the world number one following his victory and he's now a warm favourite to emulate Tiger Woods in 2000 and follow US Open success with Open Championship glory. At 12.011/1, Rahm is one tick shorter than Rory with Dustin Johnson 16.015/1 and Brooks Koepka 18.017/1.

I'll be back tomorrow with my BMW International Open and Travelers Championship previews, once I've caught up on some sleep!

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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