U.S. Open: Oosthuizen one ahead as DeChambeau, McIlroy falter

By Sports Desk June 20, 2021

Louis Oosthuizen opened up a one-shot lead in a gripping final round at the U.S. Open.

Oosthuizen was in a three-way share of the lead heading into Sunday at Torrey Pines but was initially circumspect, going one over through eight.

That put the 2010 Open winner a shot behind defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, who came agonisingly close to a sensational hole-in-one at the par-three eighth.

That birdie result was enough for the outright lead on five under at the turn, although the American's first bogey of the weekend on 11 came as Oosthuizen's putter heated up, picking up shots on nine and 10. Oosthuizen dropped one at 11 though.

DeChambeau erred again, meaning Jon Rahm – who flew out of the blocks with back-to-back birdies – was the nearest challenger to Oosthuizen alongside another overnight leader Mackenzie Hughes on four under.

Rory McIlroy drained a 35-footer on the fourth, leaving him well-placed early on minus four.

However, the Northern Irishman passed up three further birdie opportunities by the midway point of his round and his hopes were fading when he bogeyed the 11th.

That left McIlroy level on three under with Brooks Koepka, although the American four-time major winner was through 16 holes and appeared to have missed his moment to make a decisive move.

The 2020 US PGA champion Collin Morikawa was one of the pack on four under until he went through the green on 13 and left with a double bogey.

Louis Henley was alongside Oosthuizen and Hughes in the clubhouse on Saturday but also dropped back to minus two, albeit in less spectacular fashion than Morikawa.

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  • Tokyo Olympics: Games gold would be 'the absolute ultimate' – Justin Thomas Tokyo Olympics: Games gold would be 'the absolute ultimate' – Justin Thomas

    Justin Thomas described being involved at the Tokyo Olympics as "the coolest thing I've ever been a part of" as he said taking the gold medal would be "the absolute ultimate".

    Golf is being staged at the Games for just the fourth time ever and the second time since 1904, having returned to the schedule in Rio five years ago.

    The field is not the strongest, with Bryson DeChambeau and world number one Jon Rahm pulling out with coronavirus, while Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia opted not to play and Brooks Koepka failed to qualify.

    But many other big names will take part, including ​world number four Thomas, who won his only major at the US PGA Championship in 2017 and is among those targeting a medal at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

    The United States are the only nation with more than two golfers taking part in the event and Thomas says the chance to win gold for his nation is what makes this event so unique.

    "It might be the coolest thing I've been a part of. It's not very often where you get so excited about being a part of a tournament," he said at a news conference on Wednesday.

    "I really do truly think of Ryder Cups, majors, whatever it is, this is the coolest thing I've ever been a part of. It's unbelievable. Everyone is going to think differently about it.

    "I know there's some people who don't think it's that big a deal and don't think it's that cool. 

    "I don't know what it is but maybe it's just because being an Olympian, you're known as the best athlete in the world and it's something that golf isn't exactly always linked to."

    Asked whether he would rather win a major championship or an Olympic medal, Thomas replied: "If I was going to choose, I'll take the major. 

    "But this is something that would mean the absolute ultimate. It would just be the coolest thing to just be able to say not only did you play in it but that you won a gold medal.

    "It's just so different. I've tried to compare it, I've tried to think about it.

    "This is obviously more special because it's harder to win because you have less chances, but major championships change your life in more than one way."

    Like Thomas, Ireland's Rory McIlroy will tee off at the Olympics for the first time when the delayed 2020 event gets up and running on Thursday.

    Four-time major winner McIlroy sampled the the course on Tuesday and was impressed by the quality, though he is disappointed that no supporters will be in attendance this week.

    "When Hideki [Matsuyama, of Japan] won the Masters, the first thing I thought of was how good is the atmosphere going to be at the Olympics," McIlroy said.

    "Unfortunately, that's not the case. So yeah, it's tough.

    "It's not the Olympic experience anyone dreams of having. I was even saying to Shane [Lowry] how good would it be to go and watch some of the other events this evening. 

    "That's the unfortunate part about it, but there's three medals up for grabs, and we're all here trying to play for them."

    McIlroy, who has been drawn with tournament favourite Collin Morikawa and South Korea's Sungjae Im, added: "The course itself is great. It's really, really nice.

    "I've always been a big fan of Tom Fazio courses anyway. I'm trying to sort of think what I could compare it to back in the States, but it's a really fun golf course

    "It's in great shape, obviously. It's immaculate. There's plenty of opportunities out there for birdies, but if you don't hit the fairways, the rough is pretty penal in spots."

    Ireland's other representative in the men's golf tournament is Shane Lowry, who is ranked 40th in the world but is eager to challenge for a top-three finish.

    "What people don't understand is we don't win too many medals," he said. "So I think it would be huge for me and huge for the country.

    "Obviously it's going to take a lot of good golf. It's going to take something special this week. But it would mean an awful lot to me."

  • Tokyo Olympics: Matsuyama feared he would have to miss home Games Tokyo Olympics: Matsuyama feared he would have to miss home Games

    Japan's great golf hope Hideki Matsuyama has revealed he feared he would miss the Tokyo Olympics when he tested positive for COVID-19.

    The Masters champion pulled out before the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit on July 2, and the 29-year-old has not played competitive golf since, missing out on the Open Championship.

    He has also not had a top-20 finish since landing green jacket glory at Augusta National in April, slightly dampening hopes of a home gold medallist at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, where the men's tournament begins on Thursday.

    Matsuyama hopes a strong mental approach can stand him in good stead as he returns to a course that holds fond memories for the 29-year-old.

    It is where he won the 2010 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, securing him a first ticket to The Masters and serving as a springboard for his professional career.

    "To be able to represent Japan and play in my home country and a home Olympics, this is probably the first and last time I'll be able to do that," Matsuyama said in a news conference on Tuesday.

    "Three weeks ago I got tested positive for COVID-19 and wasn't really sure I'd be able to make it to this stage here. Now I'm here and I'm very happy to be able to be here.

    "I tested positive for COVID for about 10 days in duration. During that time I was unable to practise, but once I got back to Japan I started practising.

    "Hopefully I'll be able to be in the best form possible for the event this week."

    Matsuyama said he was "very happy" to test negative ahead of the Olympics, and the significance of the venue is not lost on him.

    "In a way, Kasumigaseki has been the place and catalyst for me to progress and grow," he said. "Hopefully I can do the same this week and move on to another level. 

    "Since my Masters win, I haven't had the best results so far this summer, so I'm a little bit nervous, but I'm really looking forward to it. I think it's going to be fun and I'm going to try my best to do well.

    "I'm going to try to overcome any physical deficit with the mental side."

    With his golf commitments, Matsuyama said he had found little time to watch fellow Japanese competitors from other sports in the Games, although he has been keeping tabs on their success in the medals table, with the hosts challenging near the top.

    "Hopefully I can follow their footsteps and be in a position to win a medal as well," he said.

  • He's the Champ! Cameron takes 3M Open title with bogey-free final round He's the Champ! Cameron takes 3M Open title with bogey-free final round

    Cameron Champ's three-day charge up the 3M Open leaderboard ended at the top on Sunday as the American took his third PGA Tour title.

    Champ spread five birdies throughout a bogey-free final round at TPC Twin Cities, shooting 66 to finish the tournament at 15 under par.

    That was two strokes better overall than the trio of Louis Oosthuizen (66), Charl Schwartzel (68) and Jhonattan Vegas (68), who tied for second at 13 under.

    The 26-year-old Californian winner looked like he would need that cushion on the final hole as he yanked his tee shot well off the fairway, but a perfect approach shot gave him a two-foot putt for par and the title.

    Champ battled his own body at times in the Minnesota heat, moving slowly late in his round and occasionally bending over while waiting to hit his shots.

    He hung on at the end, though, adding a third title to his previous two PGA Tour wins at the 2019 Safeway Open and the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship.

    "I was definitely dehydrated, but obviously I feel a lot better now," Champ told reporters, adding that he began to feel light-headed when he bent down to place or pick up his ball marker.

    "Not sure why I was, because I drank a lot of water. You have so much adrenaline going and I was just trying to control that."

    Sunday's near-miss was a familiar feeling for all three of the men who shared second place.

    Oosthuizen has been runner-up in four of his last seven starts, while Vegas finished second for the third time this season and Schwartzel for the second time.

    Keith Mitchell (67) finished a shot behind that trio to take fifth place, a day after recording seven consecutive birdies on the back nine.

    Third-round leader Cam Tringale had a desperate day, shooting 74 to finish six strokes back of Champ at nine under.

    Among other notables, Sergio Garcia (67) finished at eight under after his best round of the week, while Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed were at six under after closing with 71s.

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