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Golf is a sport governed by the gods.

There seems to come a moment at each Major when the heavens open up and a hand of the golfing gods descends and points the finger of fate to the chosen one.

At the Masters back in April, that chosen moment had came early, during the third round on Saturday when literal clouds gathered ominously over Augusta and a rainstorm stopped play. At that point, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama was trundling around playing a solid if unspectacular round, sitting at -5 after 10 holes, a couple behind the leaders. Then, suddenly, the sky darkened and the klaxon sounded to stop play as a rainstorm rolled in towards the course. By the time the klaxon sounded again to resume play, the greens were softer, the air stiller and Matsuyama was a man transformed. Every pin was attacked, every ball landed, every putt made. Four birdies and an eagle later – 6-under in 8 holes – a two-shot deficit had transformed into a four-shot lead, and eventual victory the following day. Touched by the gods, indeed.

In the following Major, last month’s US PGA at Kiawah Island, 50-year-old Phil Mickelson, aiming to become golf’s oldest Major winner, was the unlikely leader going into the final round on Sunday, but was only one shot ahead of Brooks Koepka, winner of four Majors in the last four years. Mickelson had made an indifferent start, bogeying two out of the first four holes, briefly losing the lead on the opening hole when Koepka birdied, before regaining it after his rival double-bogeyed the 2nd. Then came the moment. On the par-3 5th, Mickelson holed out spectacularly from the bunker to roars of delight from his adoring gallery. Suddenly the momentum was with him, and he was never behind again. Amid astonishing scenes as a sea of cheering fans engulfed him down the 18th fairway, ‘Lefty’ maintained his composure to complete his destiny and win by two shots to become the oldest Major winner in history.

In contrast to the previous two Majors, the fateful moment at Sunday’s US Open at Torrey Pines came thrillingly late. The final round was a gripping affair with several players, including a host of big names (one of whom was inevitably Brooks Koepka!), lying within two shots of the lead, which continued to alternate throughout. So who would be the chosen one this time?

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It could have been South African Louis Oosthuizen, who had hit a dramatic 35-foot eagle on the final hole in round three to storm into a last-gasp joint overnight lead. It might have been Rory McIlroy, who had made a great escape on the 15th in round three ten years to the day he won his first Major, which just happened to be the US Open at the Congressional Country Club. After sending his tee-shot almost into the next state, McIlroy had to bend his second round the trees, but somehow salvaged a bogey to go on and card a 67 and sit only two shots off the lead.

Or would it be redemption for Spain’s Jon Rahm, who had suffered the misfortune of having to withdraw from The Memorial PGA Tour event in Ohio two weeks earlier when leading by six shots, after testing positive for Covid-19.

It may have been defending champion Bryson DeChambeau had he landed a hole-in-one on the par-3 8th during the final round, but the ball stopped agonisingly short of the hole by inches.

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As the round wore on, the easier front nine gave way to the far more treacherous holes on the back nine, and the players started to drop out of contention one by one. The most bizarre trouble happened to joint overnight leader Mackenzie Hughes, when his tee shot off the difficult 11th hole landed in a tree. The fans helpfully (ahem!) chanted “shake that tree!”, advice which was mysteriously ignored for a penalty drop. Unsurprisingly, a double-bogey ensued and that was his chance gone. You know it’s not going to be your day when your ball gets stuck up a tree.

As the round reached its climax, it was looking like a shoot-out between Louis Oosthuizen and Jon Rahm. Both players had experienced fluctuating fortunes. Oosthuizen had played a steady front nine, until a brilliant 23-foot birdie on the 10th enabled him to take the outright lead on -6, which turned into a two-shot lead when co-leader Bryson DeChambeau bogeyed the 11th hole.

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At that point, Koekpa and McIlroy also made bogeys, Collin Morikawa, the 2020 PGA champion, double-bogeyed, Rahm missed a birdie by inches on the 12th, and playing partner McKenzie Hughes hit tree trouble. However, just as he looked like he might have the momentum, the South African sent his tee shot on the 11th way right into the crowd and dropped a shot, to lead by only one from Jon Rahm.

Rahm, a player long touted as the man most likely to be a future Major winner, had started three shots off the lead. Back to back birdies on 1 and 2, and a fortuitous escape on 3 from deep rough and flirting perilously with a boundary fence but getting a free drop instead on 9, had suggested it could be his turn, but thereafter numerous subsequent birdie attempts had failed to drop, checking his progress.

Oosthuizen then enjoyed a huge slice of luck on the par-5 13th when his third shot from the rough bounced forwards to the edge of the green and somehow clung on for dear life to the very edge rather than rolling down the steep slope into the trough. He then got to within 6 feet of the hole and made a clutch putt to save par. Was that Louis’ lucky break because three holes ahead on the 16th, Rahm had missed yet another birdie opportunity, albeit a 25-footer that didn’t turn right as he had expected. Would all these near misses come back to haunt him?

On the 14th and the 17th holes respectively, both players seemed to be feeling the pressure with wayward tee shots, Rahm into a fairway bunker and Oosthuizen very right again past the crowd and onto some light grass. Undaunted, Rahm hit a terrific bunker shot that landed to within 25 feet and another good birdie opportunity, while Oosthuizen was able to take a helpful drop and managed to reach the edge of the green for a much longer, 35-feet long-shot birdie chance.

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It was at this moment that the golfing deities spoke. The hand of the gods descended from the sky (possibly in the helicopter that could be heard whirring above) and pointed the heavenly finger at – Jon Rahm. Rahm hit his ball to the left and watched as the ball curved round in a leisurely arc and rolled right, and into the middle of the hole. The crowd erupted in a cacophonous roar as Rahm punched the air with unadulterated joy. In that moment, the destiny of the US Open was decided. It was the first time Jon Rahm had taken the lead in the tournament.

Poor Louis Oosthuizen. It would have been impossible for him back on the 14th not to have heard the whoops and hollers echoing in the Pacific air. He left his putt two feet short and had to settle for par and a co-lead.

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When it’s your destiny, extraordinary things happen. Jon Rahm knew he had to avoid the water inconveniently located in front of the 18th green, so aimed his approach well right – and plopped it into the bunker instead. Now this left him in a tricky position. He couldn’t risk aiming at the flag, as land past the hole and the ball was going to take a lovely stroll down the precipitous bank and straight into the water. So we had the surreal sight of the co-leader hitting his ball out of the bunker away from the hole. It left him an 18-footer for another birdie. He couldn’t, could he? Almost as soon as he hit it, there was only one place the ball was headed – into the hole. The fans broke into thunderous applause as Rahm punched the air even more passionately.

A dramatic birdie-birdie finish, and he was now the outright leader at -6, for a round of 67, 4-under for the day. As he headed off to sign his card, his family were waiting for him. Was there a more obvious indicator that Jon Rahm would be the victor than the endearingly picture-perfect sight of him cuddling his baby son on what was Father’s Day? There was no chance of that Hallmark moment being ruined. As if to drive the point home, Louis Oosthuizen’s tee-shot at the 17th – Rahm’s hole of destiny – bounced into a bush.

And that was that. A thrilling conclusion to a scintillating tournament.

A mere two weeks after his public heartbreak at The Memorial, the wheel of fortune had turned full-circle and Jon Rahm had his karmic redemption in the most dramatic fashion.

In just over a month’s time comes the final Major of the year, The Open at Royal St George’s. Who will the capricious hand of fate favour this time to win the coveted Claret Jug? It will be fascinating to find out.