Bryson DeChambeau endured a wild third round, but the FedEx Cup play-off hopeful still ended the day tied for the lead alongside Patrick Cantlay at the BMW Championship.

DeChambeau carded a five-under-par 67 to earn a share of the three-stroke lead through 54 holes at the second FedEx Cup play-off tournament on Saturday.

The 2020 U.S. Open champion's round had a little bit of everything, from back-to-back eagles to back-to-back shots in the water at Caves Valley Golf Club in Maryland.

DeChambeau was flawless on the front nine, mixing two eagles and as many birdies as he turned a one-shot deficit into a three-stroke lead within two holes.

The 27-year-old is the fourth player to make back-to-back eagles this PGA Tour season, while he is only second to Cam Davis (20) for most eagles (19).

Just as DeChambeau threatened to run away from the field, the big-hitting American stumbled, settling for a share of top spot after finding the water at the par-five 12th hole (bogey) and par-three 13th (double bogey).

"It was definitely colourful," DeChambeau – projected to be second in the FedEx Cup points race – told PGA Tour radio. "Thought I played pretty well the front nine, did mis-hit a drive on seven.

"Felt weird. From then on out I wasn't driving it very well, so that's what I'm going to do, work on that for tomorrow. If I can get that straightened out like I did the first few days, off the tee the first couple holes today, I mean, I'll give myself a great chance again."

Cantlay – the current FedEx Cup leader – is also 21 under heading into Sunday's final round following his six-under-par 66.

He was almost bogey-free on day three, holing an eagle and five birdies before bogeying the last.

Im Sung-jae is the nearest challenger after his third-round 66, while Rory McIlroy (65), Abraham Ancer (66), Sam Burns (65) and Sergio Garcia (67) are tied for fourth at 17 under.

World number one and defending champion Jon Rahm lost ground, dropping to outright eighth – five shots back – after a two-under-par 67.

FedEx Cup champion Dustin Johnson posted a seven-under-par 65 to be 14 under, while Brooks Koepka (69) ended the day a further four shots behind – two strokes better off than Justin Thomas (69).

Bryson DeChambeau turned in a spectacular second round at the BWM Championship, shooting a career-best 60 Friday to rocket to the top of the leaderboard. 

DeChambeau carded a pair of eagles and eight birdies in a flawless round at Caves Valley Golf Club near Baltimore, Maryland, leaving him 16 under par for the tournament. 

Play was suspended due to darkness with 15 players still on the course, including first-round leader Jon Rahm. The second round of the FedEx Cup play-off event will conclude Saturday morning before the third round begins. 

Through the 15 holes he completed Friday, Rahm was one stroke back of DeChambeau at 15 under. Earlier in the day, Patrick Cantlay finished his round at 15 under after shooting 63. 

Sergio Garcia (67) and Im Sung-jae (65) were four back of DeChambeau at 12 under, while Hudson Swafford (66) was in at 11 under along with Sam Burns, who had one hole left to play. 

Rory McIlroy (70) was at 10 under with Abraham Ancer, who was four under for the round through 16 holes. 

The story of the day, though, was DeChambeau's run at a 59, which he said entered his mind after his eagle at 16.

He had putts for birdie at 17 and 18 but could not convert, saying his simply misread the six-foot putt on the last. 

Despite coming so close to the magic number, the American did not lament the final miss. 

"It's just one shot," he said. "There's plenty of holes where I could have made a birdie somewhere else not making it, I still executed a good putt, just didn't break the way I wanted it to. That's all I could ask for."

DeChambeau's previous low round was 62 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open last October and he was pleased to play as well as he did Friday. 

“It was an awesome opportunity," he said. "I had a couple birdie opportunities at 17 and 18, and it didn't happen but I’m still really proud of the way I handled myself, and it's great to feel some pressure again which is awesome.

“A lot of putts went in. A lot of things went right. We got a lot of great numbers out of the rough today, and I played my butt off and never thought too much about anything until the last few holes."

Elsewhere in the 69-man field, Olympic gold medallist Xander Schauffele (68) was at nine under, one shot better than Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (69). 

Three-time tournament winner Dustin Johnson (70) was at seven under along with Brooks Koepka (67). 

Among those well back of the lead were Jordan Spieth (70) and Lee Westwood (70) at three under. Phil Mickelson was there, too, after completing just 13 holes Friday. 

Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa brought up the rear at three over for the tournament following a 75 that saw him card three bogeys and no birdies. 

Jon Rahm credited "Ted Lasso" for his magnificent display in the opening round of the BMW Championship as the world number one and defending tournament champion earned a share of the three-way lead.

Rahm carded a flawless eight-under-par 64 to top the leaderboard by one shot alongside fellow star Rory McIlroy and Sam Burns in the second PGA Tour FedEx Cup play-off event in Maryland, Baltimore on Thursday.

At The Northern Trust, Rahm appeared on track to claim the opening FedEx Cup tournament before fizzling out as the Spaniard fell short of a play-off in Monday's finish at Liberty National.

Rahm, however, bounced back at Caves Valley Golf Club, where he invoked the "Ted Lasso" mentality – the star character of the popular television show featuring Jason Sudeikis.

"I must say, for all those 'Ted Lasso' fans out there, be a goldfish," Rahm – second in the FedEx Cup rankings – said post-round after holing eight birdies without dropping a shot. "If you haven't seen the show, you've just got to check it out.

"Played great golf last week, just a couple bad swings down the stretch, and that's the most important thing to remember."

Former world number one McIlroy, who lamented fatigue prior to Thursday's first round, opened his BMW Championship campaign with an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey.

The 2016 and 2019 FedEx Cup champion enjoyed a bogey-free front nine, highlighted by the Northern Irishman's four birdies.

Burns, like Rahm, made it through 18 holes without dropping a shot as the American tallied eight birdies, including four in a row from the 11th to the 14th.

In a 70-man field, reduced from the top 125 points leaders at The Northern Trust, Sergio Garcia is one stroke adrift of the trio, while Abraham Ancer and Patrick Cantlay – fourth in the rankings – are six under.

FedEx Cup champion and three-time tournament winner Dustin Johnson ended the day five under following his first-round 67, alongside the likes of points leader Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele and Masters holder Hideki Matsuyama.

Cameron Smith, who lost to Finau in Monday's Northern Trust play-off, is four shots behind the leaders and he is joined by Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and 2017 FedEx Cup winner Justin Thomas.

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka posted a two-under-par 70, while Jordan Spieth shot a 71.

Jon Rahm revealed he has been taking tips from Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Speaking ahead of this week's BMW Championship, Rahm spoke about his relationship with the legendary American swimmer.

World number one Rahm said Phelps, who won 28 medals across five appearances at the Games, had offered him a wealth of advice.

Phelps himself is a skilled golfer and Spaniard Rahm has been tapping into his expertise as a serial winner.

"You know, he's a great guy. He's gone through a lot, and as an athlete he's somebody to look up to very easily," said Rahm, who missed the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19.

"When you're the greatest Olympian of all time, you definitely have a couple tricks up your sleeve, a couple good moments of wisdom in that sense.

"You've got to also understand golf and swimming are very different, very different sports, and I'm not going to disclose too much on what I've asked him golf-wise, but he has helped me a lot.

"He has texted me every once in a while when I'm doing good or bad. The last thing we talked about is trying to figure out how to play in the pro-am together, and that's about it.

"You know, he's been very open to my questions. Any time I have a question about anything, he would respond."

The pair have also bonded over fatherhood, with Rahm having had his first child earlier this year, while Phelps has three.

Rahm's son Kepa was born just before the Masters, at which the 26-year-old finished in a tie for fifth, before winning his maiden major on Father's Day at the U.S. Open.

"The one I can talk about or that I'm willing to talk about was mainly when Kepa was born he texted me right away because he was in Colorado when his first child was born, and he flew back for the delivery, and then two days later he had to get back to keep training for the Olympics," said Rahm.

"He knows how hard it is to be there and then right after that, gone, I have to go train, and not see him. He did help me out with that. That's not an easy feeling. It wasn't the easiest thing to do, even if it's the Masters.

"I really did not want to leave that room, but he helped me out with that.

"You know, at the same time he's a great friend. Great guy to be around. Trying to become a good golfer, and that's about it."

Tony Finau ended his five-year wait for a trophy after winning The Northern Trust in a play-off against Cameron Smith.

The final round of The Northern Trust – the first of three FedEx Cup play-off tournaments – was pushed back to Monday after Hurricane Henri ruined the possibility of a Sunday finish in New Jersey.

Finau was not to be denied, however, as the surging American produced a comeback to capture his first PGA Tour title since 2016 with a par on the first extra hole after Smith drove out of bounds.

Trailing world number one Jon Rahm and Smith by two strokes entering the final round, Finau hunted down the duo thanks to a six-under-par 65 at Liberty National.

Finau got hot on the back nine, with an eagle and three birdies within a five-hole stretch catapulting him to the top of the leaderboard, alongside Australian Smith (67) at 20 under at the end of regulation.

Rahm missed out on a play-off following his final-round 69, which left him two strokes off the pace.

Finau is now projected to go top of the FedEx Cup leaderboard, ahead of Rahm and Smith heading into the BMW Championship, which will consist of a 70-man field.

"It feels amazing," Finau said after winning 1,975 days and 143 starts after his first victory at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open. "It took just about everything I had. We got to number 10 and I knew I had to get to 20-under, that was my goal starting the day.

"My caddy Mark said let's turn in the best nine we've had all week, and I was able to do it.

"I hit some clutch shots on 18, that's a tough golf hole. Man, I just fought and its pretty cool to be standing here again winning a golf tournament."

The PGA Tour has seen 14 consecutive events won by players that trailed after each of the first three rounds. The last player to lead following any round and go on to win was Phil Mickelson at the 2021 US PGA Championship.

American star and 2017 FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas (70) finished tied for fourth – five strokes off the pace, while Bryson DeChambeau was five shots further back following his three-under-par 68 alongside rival and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka (74).

Former world number one and 2019 FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy ended the tournament seven under through 72 holes as Jordan Spieth's forgettable eight-over-par 79 left him one over for the tournament and in 74th position.

Australian Cameron Smith set a course record with a stunning 11-under-par 60 to claim a share of the lead alongside Jon Rahm at the Northern Trust on Saturday.

Smith missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole which would have seen him register a rare sub-60 score as well as taking the outright lead following a round which included 11 birdies at Liberty National Golf Course in New Jersey.

The missed 12-foot putt meant the 28-year-old Australian missed out on posting only the 13th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history.

"I actually thought it was going to kind of stay straight and then drop a little bit right there at the end off the bunker and just didn't do it," Smith said about his 18th hole putt.

"I haven't been in that situation before. It was completely new to me. I just tried to get up there and do what I did the rest of the day, hit a good drive, and my driver definitely put me in that spot today for all those birdies.

"It's been a bit of a rough trot with the driver of late. I felt like it's got away from me a little bit, and it was nice to see a lot of drives, a lot of good drives today."

Smith, who revealed he started to think posting 59 was realistic after he birdied the 14th hole, hit 11 of 14 fairways in his round.

He will resume in the equal lead with 2021 U.S. Open winner Rahm on Monday with Sunday's play postponed due to projected path of Tropical Storm Henri.

Rahm had been the outright leader heading into the third day, one stroke ahead of Tony Finau, but after four birdies on the front nine the Spaniard carded a third round four-under-par 67.

The 26-year-old was thwarted by a double bogey on the 13th hole, ending his bogey-free streak, along with a bogey on the 16th, before finishing with a birdie and a terrific par save.

Erik van Rooyen also stormed up the leaderboard with a nine-under-62 to move one shot behind the joint leaders. After bogeying the first, the South African posted 10 birdies in his round.

Justin Thomas and Finau are tied for fourth at 14 under, with Shane Lowry, Viktor Hovland and Tom Hoge a further stroke behind them.

Jordan Spieth was the major slider after carding a one-over-par 72 to drop to seven under overall, seven shots off the pace. Bryson DeChambeau also had a one-over round with four bogeys, to be five under.

Jon Rahm claimed the outright lead following the second round of The Northern Trust, but the world number one was not completely happy as he voiced his frustration with the FedEx Cup play-offs format.

Rahm carded a four-under-par 67 for a one-stroke advantage at the halfway stage of the opening FedEx Cup play-offs tournament on Friday.

In a tie with Justin Thomas for the three-shot lead following Thursday's round, Spanish star Rahm ended day two alone atop the leaderboard at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, where the top 125 players are competing.

Rahm – fifth in the FedEx Cup rankings heading into the first of three play-off events – has his fifth career second-round lead/co-lead on the PGA Tour, and third of the season.

He is yet to make a bogey through two rounds – it is the first time in Rahm's PGA Tour career that he has played the first 36 holes without a bogey (110th start).

Rahm, though, was irked at the end of play as he discussed the FedEx Cup format, which sees only one winner of the season-ending Tour Championship and FedEx Cup, having previously seen the possibility of separate champions.

"I don't think it's fair," Rahm said post-round. "I don't like that at all. No. I think you have the play-offs itself, and if you win the first two and if you don't play good in the last one ... you can end up with a really bad finish.

"I don't like it. I understand the system. And the way I was told by one of the PGA Tour officials, [if] I'm a Patriots fans and the Patriots win everything to get to the Super Bowl and they don't win the Super Bowl, you don't win the Lombardi Trophy, right?

"My answer was, they still finished second. They have to understand that golf is different. You could win 15 events, including both play-offs events, and [under the current system implemented last year] you have a two-shot lead. I understand it's for TV purposes and excitement and just making it more of a winner-take-all, and they give you a two-shot advantage, but over four days that can be gone in two holes, right."

Tony Finau's second-round 64 earned second position at 11 under, a shot better off than 2017 FedEx Cup champion Thomas (69), Keith Mitchell (64) and Xander Schauffele (62).

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka (64) and former world number one Jordan Spieth (62) – second in the rankings – are four strokes off the pace, while Bryson DeChambeau is two strokes further back following his 65.

Rory McIlroy – the 2019 FedEx Cup winner – narrowly avoided the cut at one under following his 70, but defending tournament champion and FedEx Cup holder Dustin Johnson (72) failed to qualify the weekend alongside Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson.

Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas fired eight-under-par 63s to share the three-stroke lead after the opening round of the Northern Trust.

The 2021 FedEx Cup play-offs got underway at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, with the top 125 players eligible to play the PGA Tour event on Thursday.

World number one Rahm (fifth) and 2017 FedEx Cup champion Thomas (ninth) – both in the regular-season top-10 rankings – set the early pace to end day one ahead of nearest rival Harold Varner III.

Rahm was flawless through 18 holes, recording eight birdies, including four of his last six, without dropping a shot, while Thomas birdied four of his last five holes to be level atop the standings.

It is the second time this season Rahm and Thomas have been tied for the lead following a round – both were T1 after day two of the 2020 Masters.

"It probably felt a lot tougher within us than it appeared outside, but at the end of the day, when you're striking it well, it's going to seem easier," Rahm said after enduring gusty conditions. "Scores are out there. We just showed it. That's mainly due to the fact of the softness of the greens."

Thomas holds his third 18-hole lead/co-lead of the season, tied with Sebastian Munoz for the most on Tour.

"It was nice to play well out there in those conditions," Thomas said. "It was very windy, which makes it tough to get the ball close to the hole.

"I had an eight to 10 inch [20-25 cm] putt I almost missed because of a wind gust. I stayed committed to every shot."

Adam Scott, Robert Streb, Mackenzie Hughes, Cameron Tringale, Tony Finau and Kevin Na are tied for fourth, four shots behind the leading duo, while Patrick Cantlay – third in the FedEx Cup standings – is a stroke further back.

Defending tournament and play-off champion Dustin Johnson ended the day seven shots off the pace after mixing four birdies with three bogeys.

Johnson played his round without a driver in his bag, having noticed a small crack in his club, though the American star did not have a backup.

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka also shot a 70, while 2019 FedEx Cup winner Rory McIlroy settled for an even-par 71 alongside 2018 Northern Trust champion Bryson DeChambeau.

DeChambeau became the fourth player on record (since 1983) to make two or fewer pars and record a score of even-par or better on the PGA TOUR – Jarrod Lyle was the most recent to do so via his two-under 69 (two pars) at the 2011 John Deere Classic.

Former world number one and 2015 FedEx Cup winner Jordan Spieth – second in the rankings – shot a 72 as six-time major champion Phil Mickelson ended the round two over.

World number one Jon Rahm said it "sucked" to miss the Tokyo Olympic Games after testing positive for coronavirus.

U.S. Open champion Rahm fancied his chances of winning gold, but he was unable to compete in Japan.

The Spaniard, back in action at the Northern Trust this week, also had to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament in June when he held a six-shot lead following a positive COVID-19 test.

He said ahead of his first start since The Open: "This [positive test before the Olympics] was a little harder to digest than Memorial, because I've done everything the system tells me to do."

Rahm added: "I understand it's a weird case because I tested negative so quickly and tested negative and tested negative all throughout the UK, and I get here [the United States] and the test is positive.

"It really is unfortunate. It sucked because I wanted to represent Spain. I wanted to play that one. I wanted to hopefully give Spain a medal.

"I was wishing for a gold medal, but just being part of that medal count for the country would have been huge. It was more devastating in that sense. I was more in the mindset of playing for them more than me."

Rahm will tee off on Thursday fifth in the FedExCup standings as he eyes a glorious end to a season in which he won a first major title.

Jon Rahm has been ruled out of competing at the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Spanish Olympic Committee announced the world number one had returned a positive result on his third PCR test after competing at The Open at Royal St George's, having previously recorded two negative outcomes ahead of his appearance at the Games.

American Bryson DeChambeau was also ruled out of competing for the same reason on Sunday, having not yet travelled to play in Japan.

For Rahm, it is the second time he has tested positive in as many months. He had to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour when leading by six shots after 54 holes.

The 26-year-old won the U.S. Open upon his return to action, securing the first major of his career by one shot thanks to a birdie-birdie finish on a dramatic Sunday at Torrey Pines.

With a shortage of time and considering the health protocols in place for the Olympics, a replacement will not be selected. Spain still has one competitor left in the field in Adri Arnaus, the world number 166.

As for DeChambeau, he admitted to being "deeply disappointed" at missing out on Tokyo.

"Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honour to make this team," he said in a statement released by the PGA Tour.

"I wish Team USA the best of luck next week in Tokyo. I will now focus on getting healthy, and I look forward to returning to competition once I am cleared to do so."

Patrick Reed will replace him, provided he clears coronavirus tests scheduled on Sunday and Monday before departing for Japan.

 

The 149th Open Championship concluded in thrilling fashion on Sunday as Collin Morikawa claimed the Claret Jug.

It was a fitting finale to a memorable tournament, which marked the return of fans en masse to watch golf's oldest major.

Royal St George's was bathed in sunshine for all four days and it was a joyous event for everyone in attendance.

Stats Perform's man on the ground said a fond farewell to the Kent links, but not before one last wander around the course.

SHELTER FROM THE WARM

The soaring temperatures made walking the course a test of endurance, and not everyone was keen to partake.

What few spots of shade there were soon became occupied by weary bodies, sheltering from the warmth of the sun.

The queues at the water refill points were longer than for the grandstands.

CELEB SPOTTING (TAKE TWO)

It may have been premature to share the story of a chance encounter with British comedian Michael McIntyre on Saturday, as Sunday heralded the arrival of an even bigger celebrity.

Milling around outside the entrance to the media centre, and somehow not surrounded by a large crowd of autograph hunters, was One Direction's Niall Horan.

He's a keen golf fan and can often be seen at the majors rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in the sport.

FLAGGING...

At the end of a long tournament, some members of the media pack wanted a morale-boosting moment, so waited patiently for Champion Golfer of the Year Morikawa to exit from the interview room in hope of an autograph or photo.

Two had souvenir flags with Open Championship branding, in the expectation Morikawa might take the time to sign them.

He bolted through the doors carrying the Claret Jug, saw his waiting fans, but had no time to stop, telling them: "Sorry guys. Maybe I'll see you later."

Oh, the disappointment. 

Open champion Collin Morikawa revealed the unexpected and tasty secret to his success after winning the Claret Jug at the first attempt on Sunday.

The 24-year-old produced a blemish-free 66 in a stunning final round at Royal St George's to thwart the charge of Jordan Spieth and eclipse overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen.

Morikawa, who also won the 2020 US PGA Championship on debut, secured his second major win in eight entries after starting the day a shot behind Oosthuizen.

In the end his greatest beef was with 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year Spieth, who recovered from being two over through six holes to sign for a 66 himself, finishing two back.

But Morikawa, who saw playing partner Oosthuizen limp to a closing 71, clearly relished the challenge as he went bogey-free to make mincemeat of the field in sizzling sunshine on the Kent coast.

But, when grilled by the media as to what the key to his triumph was, Morikawa had an answer nobody saw coming.

"The secret? Well, I never do this, but I had a burger for four straight days, so my body is probably feeling it. I know my body's feeling it," he said.

"I think I just enjoy these moments, and I talk about it so much that we love what we do. And you have to embrace it.

"You have to be excited about these opportunities, and that's how I looked at it today, especially coming down the stretch, was I'm excited. To have the Claret Jug right here in my possession for a year, I believe, I'm excited to have it."

Runner-up Spieth lamented his putting as he came up short, but Morikawa was delighted with that side of his own game.

He made a succession of potentially tricky putts, including one for birdie from around 15 feet on the 14th just after Spieth had cut the gap to one.

"Definitely one of the best [putting displays], especially inside 10 feet," he said.

"I felt like it was as solid as it's going to get. I don't think I really missed many from that distance. Especially in a major.

"I think in a major on a Sunday in contention, I wasn't thinking about anything other than making a putt.

"I'm going to tell myself probably tomorrow: 'Why can't I keep doing that all the time?'.

"But you know, I'm going to try to figure out what worked and use that for the future because I know I can putt well. I know I can putt well in these pressure situations. I've just got to keep doing that."

Jordan Spieth was left to lament a slack finish to his third round after he came up just short at The Open on Sunday.

The 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year recovered from two over through six to sign for a final-round 66, which left him two shots shy of winner Collin Morikawa.

But it was Saturday's round at Royal St George's that bothered the three-time major winner, who dropped shots at each of the last two holes.

Reflecting on a close call with what would have been a first major triumph since that success at Royal Birkdale four years ago, Spieth was quick to point out where it went wrong.

"It's hard to be upset when I was a couple over through six," he said. "I couldn't have really done much more after that point.

"But the finish yesterday was about as upset as I've taken a finish of a round to the house. I walked in and I said: 'Is there something that I can break?'.

"I knew that was so important because I would have been in the final group."

Spieth is usually a safe bet with the putter in his hand, but the 27-year-old felt that side of his game was lacking in Kent.

He took 1.58 putts per greens in regulation, which was better than the field average of 1.68, but Spieth felt he was well short of his own high standard.

"My putting is not where I want to be at all," conceded. "I say at all; It's progressing the right direction, but it's not where it has been.

"I know what needs to do to get there, and it's just very difficult to do. But it's rounds like today or this week, major championship rounds, where you have to obviously test not only your touch out here, but also a lot of knobs and breaking putts and trust lines. It's a good test for it.

"I just wasn't extremely sharp with the putter this week. I was sharper than I was at Augusta, and it's been a little bit kind of here and there this year.

"My bad weeks have been okay and my good weeks are really good, but I needed to put in a little bit of work."

Paying tribute to champion Morikawa, who has two major wins from eight starts, Spieth added: "He swings the club beautifully, gets it in positions that make it very, very difficult to not start the ball online, so therefore, he's going to be very consistent tee to green.

"At 24, obviously there's a bright future ahead."

Collin Morikawa produced a stunning final round to win The Open by two strokes from Jordan Spieth at Royal St George's.

The 2020 US PGA Championship winner added a second major to his list of honours in only his eighth appearance in such tournaments, with this his debut at the oldest of golf's four headline events.

His blemish-free 66 on Sunday ensured he overturned the one-stroke overnight lead that Louis Oosthuizen had held, while Spieth closed with the same score as he came up just short.

Morikawa nailed a lengthy birdie putt on the 14th, just after Spieth's run of four gains in four holes around the turn had cut the gap to one, and the 24-year-old never looked back as he sealed the prize on 15 under.

 

Spieth, the 2017 champion at Royal Birkdale, and Oosthuizen, who triumphed at St Andrews in 2010, had each been chasing a second Claret Jug.

But Morikawa showed nerves of steel as he refused to wilt in the sunshine on the Kent coast, the American averaging 1.5 putts per greens in regulation.

He needed to hit such a high level to keep Spieth at bay, his compatriot rallying from two over for the day after six holes to close at 13 under.

Oosthuizen endured the frustration of finishing as runner-up at the US PGA Championship and the U.S. Open this year and he suffered more disappointment following a closing 71.

Pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm wrapped things up in style with a 66 and he will return to the world number one spot next week, displacing Dustin Johnson. 

Reigning champion Shane Lowry finished at six under, while Rory McIlroy closed with a 71 to wrap up a low-key outing at even par.

SHOT OF THE DAY

Morikawa's approach shot on the 14th was short and left him with a long uphill putt for birdie on a par five that was playing at a generous average of 4.6.

Spieth was on the charge and momentum looked to shift in the three-time major winner's favour, but Morikawa turned a potential negative into an overwhelming positive with one decisive swipe of the putting blade.

It was the point at which the engravers may as well have started putting his name on the silverware.

CHIPPING IN

Shane Lowry: "I really enjoyed the whole week. It was an amazing experience. Walking down the last hole today was one of the coolest things you'll ever get to do, and I got to do it."

Rory McIlroy: "For me at the minute it's just the process of trying to work my way back to the sort of form and the sort of the level that I know I can play at."

Brooks Koepka: "I like coming over here and playing links golf. It's always a bunch of fun, and I've always said that it's the one tournament a year where the fans actually know what a good shot is."

A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME

- Louis Oosthuizen's last three major results are now tied second (US PGA Championship), second (U.S. Open), and tied third (The Open).

- Shane Lowry's failure to retain the Claret Jug means no player has successfully defended the honour at Royal St George's since Harry Vardon in 1899.

- Germany's Matthias Schmid won the silver medal for low amateur after finishing two over par.

Collin Morikawa held the lead after nine holes of the final round at The Open as Louis Oosthuizen slipped back on Sunday.

Morikawa, the 2020 US PGA Championship winner, reached the turn 14 under overall as the American moved four strokes clear of overnight leader Oosthuizen, with Jordan Spieth now his closest rival.

South African Oosthuizen is eyeing a wire-to-wire triumph at Royal St George's, where he and Spieth are each looking to lift the Claret Jug for a second time.

Oosthuizen won it in 2010 at St Andrews, while Spieth – who was 11 under through 10 – triumphed at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

It would be a bitter pill to swallow for Oosthuizen should he miss out in Kent, as he has already endured two runner-up finishes in majors this year and six in his career.

Jon Rahm got himself into the mix at eight under through six before giving a stroke back, with Corey Conners, and Dylan Frittelli on the fringes.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka carded a final-round 65 to close on eight under, leaving him to lament Saturday's 72.

"It's definitely a missed opportunity," he said. "I didn't play good enough on Saturday. Doesn't really matter what I finished today. I didn't have a chance to win. That's disappointing."

 

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