His ball was stuck between two branches of a tree and never came down.
“I mean, it’s like a fraction of a million,” said Hughes. “I’ve played golf all my life. I’ve never got a ball stuck in a tree. To make it happen on the second nine of a US Open …”
For more than two hours on Sunday, the Back Nine of the South Course at Torrey Pines chewed up many of the world’s best golfers, knocking most of them out of competition. In Hughes’ case, it didn’t even spit him out.
Before the leaders turned the game around on Sunday, it seemed like one of the biggest finals in the history of the US Open was about to take place on the California coast. After six holes four players – Louis Oosthuizen, Bryson DeChambeau, Russell Henley and Rory McIlroy – were tied with 4 under for the leadership. Six other players, including Hughes, Brooks Köpka, Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm, were only 1 shot behind.
“I’m not going to lie: I tried not to look at the leaderboards, but the crowd didn’t go along with it,” said Rahm. “They told me exactly what was going on so I decided to take it. You see all these great names and to me I thought whoever wins this one will be the one to win a US Open with a star-studded one. ” Leaderboard. “
But just as quickly the U.S. Open the finals of a local member.
“It’s late afternoon, Sunday, at a US Open,” said Open Harris Englishwho at one point was the clubhouse leader at 3 under. “The wind is up. The greens are firm and fast. Anything can happen.”
One by one, many of the world’s best players imploded, and Rahm chased Oosthuizen for his first major championship. Rahm eventually chased the South African down to win with a shot at 6-under 278 and became the first Spaniard to win the US Open.
“You hear from a lot of people who say you just have to hold on and let others make mistakes, and that just didn’t happen,” said Rahm.
Obviously, Rahm didn’t pay much attention to the slaughter that was going on all around him.
Henley, who had at least part of the lead after each of the first three laps, withdrew from the race early with three straight bogeys. Justin Thomas, number 2 in the world, was out of the mix after hitting his drive at number 10 over a fence and out of bounds. World number 4 Morikawa took a double bogey in 13th place after blowing a wedge over the green. Koepka, two-time US Open champion, was destroyed by three back-nine bogeys.
Matthew Wolff, who was only 2 strokes back on Sunday, had bogeys on five of six holes to knock himself out. Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, battling for his first major championship win since the 2014 PGA Championship, finished 11th with three putts and made a double to 12th.
“It was two holes that basically stopped the nature of the title race,” said McIlroy.
Even after Oosthuizen had birdies at numbers 9 and 10 to move for a 2-shot lead on 6 under, Hughes was still very much into the hunt at 4 under. But then he pulled his tee shot to the left on the 11th par-3. His ball just missed a spectator and bounced off the cart path. Incredible, the ball got stuck in the tree and never came down.
– US Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 20, 2021
Hughes took a penalty, double-bogey 5, and then bogey the next hole. He was done too.
“[It] I felt miserable because when the ball is over there in the grass I have a chance to come up and down for par and that’s a different perspective than trying to come up and down for bogey and I have it I finally made a double, “said Hughes.” I hit a bad shot but I was left on the green, with a lot of green to work with, and who knows what would have happened. No, just a really bad break and an unfortunate time for it to happen. “
That wasn’t even the strangest thing that happened. DeChambeau, who was cruising and hadn’t bogeyed on 30 consecutive holes, got one on numbers 11 and 12 in a row. Then, after he slipped on his par-5 13 tee shot, a fan wearing a cloak with a golf club ran down the fairway in front of him. The man reached into his pocket, dropped a ball, and struck it into the ravine with an iron. He danced and swung again before the police arrested him.
– Sean Zak (@Sean_Zak) June 20, 2021
“I’m just glad an officer clothesline him,” said DeChambeau. “That was fun. They took it down and got it out the way it should be.”
DeChambeau went down almost as quickly. The reigning US Open champion had held the solo lead with 5 under after an almost ace on the eighth par 3. After successive bogeys he got a double bogey 7 on 13 and a quadruple bogey 8 on 17. His bunker shot on the 13th landed next to a 12-pack of beer on Karrenweg.
“Nobody understands that, at least when you play professional golf, major championship golf,” DeChambeau said. “A lot is luck. I can’t tell you how many times I shot bad and good lies this week and they played 50-50 this week. I caught the bad lies in the second nine.” [on Sunday]. … Had to be a bit lucky. And I was there for the first three and a half days and just had no luck in the last nine. “
Nobody knows this better than Hughes.