Jon Rahm claimed his first Masters victory with a composed final round at Augusta on Sunday, becoming the first player since 1952 to win the tournament after a double bogey on the first hole.
The Spaniard – playing on the birthday of the late, great Seve Ballesteros – got off to the worst possible start back on Thursday but finished the weekend with the green jacket around his shoulders, overhauling Brooks Koepka as the PGA Tour claimed a symbolic victory over their LIV Golf rivals.
Heavy rain and stormy weather saw play suspended on Saturday afternoon, with the third round finished off on Sunday morning; Koepka started the day with a two-shot lead and, despite shooting one over, finished with his slim margin still intact.
Rahm, likewise, had gone one over in his third round to remain within striking distance in second place, while an excellent display from Viktor Hovland saw him move into contention, hitting five birdies in a row to move three off the lead going into the final round.
After a brief break, Koepka had the first real opportunity to open up his lead on the second hole but rimmed his birdie putt before under-hitting a great chance on the third. Rahm had a longer putt on the same hole but sunk his effort to claim first blood and move within one stroke of his American rival.
A bogey followed for Koepka on the next hole, with the lead now tied, while it meant seven players were now within five shots of the co-leaders and sniffing an outside chance of a late challenge.
Just when Hovland looked primed to strike, a double bogey on the sixth dashed his hopes and gave the leaders some temporary breathing room. Two bad tee shots on the same hole had Rahm and Koepka struggling to make par but the 28-year-old Spaniard managed it and took the lead for the first time.
Still, it did not feel entirely like a two-horse race with seven players now all tied on six under. Defending champion Scottie Scheffler briefly got himself in the mix in the chasing pack by birdieing four of his first 11 holes – only to then double bogey – while Sahith Theegala channelled Tiger Woods in 2005 on the 16th hole as he went to six under.
Jordan Spieth, who remarkably was even through the first 50 holes, moved into serious contention only to bogey the 18th, dropping back to fourth, but Phil Mickelson made no such mistakes, rolling back the years to claim the clubhouse lead on eight under after eight birdies in a truly brilliant final round.
‘This is as much fun as I could possibly have playing golf. The final round of The Masters, to play the way I did, and then to finish it off with a couple of birdies,’ Mickelson told Sky Sports afterwards.
The Masters: Final Standings
1. Jon Rahm -12
=2. Phil Mickelson -8
=2. Brooks Koepka -8
=4. Jordan Spieth -7
=4. Patrick Reed -7
=4. Russell Henley -7
‘This has been a lot of fun so regardless of the outcome this has been a really fun day for me. I’m grateful we [the LIV Golf players] get to be here and play and compete and be a part of this great championship. And then to play like I did today was extra special.’
Rahm and Koepka, meanwhile, both bogeyed the ninth as the Spaniard’s lead dropped to just two strokes ahead of Mickelson, though he still looked in control of his game while Koepka was becoming a little ragged.
On the 13th hole, they both birdied and Rahm now held a three-shot lead with just five holes remaining. Koepka’s brief rally – or, rather, respite – did not last long as he bogeyed the next hole, while another birdie for Rahm saw him extend the lead to four shots in what felt like the decisive moment of the day.
Rahm continued to play with a nerveless ease as the finishing line came into view despite a curious finale that saw him forced to play a provisional tee shot on the 18th after a slightly tense first effort landed so short following a ricochet that the officials initially thought the ball had been lost.
Still, he retained his composure and after keeping his emotions on lockdown throughout the round, Rahm finally let out a massive roar of delight when he sunk his par putt on the 18th.
He becomes the fourth Spaniard after Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia to win the Masters, while it is his second major after winning the US Open two years ago. And all after four-putting the very first hole of the tournament.
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