American Wyndham Clark kept his cool and won his first major championship at the 123rd US Open, while Rory McIlroy again missed his fifth title.
Clark, a 120-1 underdog earlier in the week, hit a final 70 at the Los Angeles Country Club to finish 10 under par, one shot ahead of McIlroy.
McIlroy’s only birdie of his own 70 came on the first hole and his lone bogey on the 14th gave Clark the breathing space he needed to claim a hard-fought but deserved win.
The world No. 32 won his first PGA Tour title just last month and had missed the cut at his previous two US Opens, while his best finish at all majors was a tie in 75th place at the 2021 US PGA.
In contrast, McIlroy has now recorded 19 top-10 finishes since winning the last of his four majors at the US PGA in 2014 – a month after winning the Open at the Royal Liverpool, whose shots influence his somewhat conservative approach this week had.
McIlroy started the final loop with a shot to spare and got off to an ideal start with a two-putt birdie on the first and Clark did the same, only the American made a three-putt on the second.
Clark made an excellent approach to the par-3 fourth, converting the birdie putt from five feet before firing another shot on the short sixth.
McIlroy missed the birdie from a yard on the eighth par five, seemingly opening the door for Clark to extend his lead in the group behind.
But Clark found a bad position in the high rough with his approach and needed two escape attempts before pacing off the back of the green and delivering just one shot.
Another shot seemed likely to go as Clark missed the ninth green and was faced with an awkward shot off the bank of a bunker, but he played deftly past the flag, using the green’s contours to retrieve the ball to seven feet and to save Par.
A flop Phil Mickelson would have been proud of saw Clark save par on the 11th as well, and he extended his lead when McIlroy’s run of 12 pars ended in a bogey on the 14th.
McIlroy may have been lucky enough to snag a free drop when his approach sank in front of a bunker on the green, but failed to get up to par and fall.
Clark then made a brilliant approach to the green from 282 yards and made a two-putting birdie from 20 feet to extend his lead to three.
That cushion was short-lived as Clark hit the par 15 three and then found sand off the tee on the next tee when McIlroy hit the crucial hole for the par from seven feet.
With no chance of making the green, Clark laid into the fairway before hitting an excellent third shot from seven feet, only to miss the par putt.
However, with McIlroy unable to find a birdie to increase the pressure, Clark boldly parried the final two holes and secured the win.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler landed two shots behind McIlroy in third, ahead of Open champion Cameron Smith in fourth and Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler and Min Woo Lee in fifth.
Previously, Fleetwood had been tantalizingly close to making major championship history after finishing with a stunning 63 points when the Ryder Cup star missed from five feet for a birdie on the 18th.
With that, Fleetwood would have shot the first 62 in the finals of a Major, with the record set by Branden Grace in the third round of the 2017 Open and equaled by Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele on Thursday.
It’s the second time Fleetwood has hit a 63 in the finals of the US Open – he also missed a short putt for a 62 at Shinnecock Hills in 2018 and landed a shot behind Brooks Koepka.
“First time (on the birdie) I missed a six-foot throw, last time I missed a five-foot throw, and then everything in between was really, really good,” Fleetwood said with a smile when he was asked to summarize his round.
“I just need to be higher up the leaderboard on Sunday and then have a day like today again.”
When asked if he was the only player to hit two final 63s at the US Open, Fleetwood added: “Obviously that’s a nice little piece of history.
“And you may be disappointed with what I didn’t catch today, but I think having something like that and shooting multiple 63s in a major, anything you can bank and know your game is a major can withstand.” It’s really nice to have a golf course and get low scores.”