June 20 (UPI) -- Jon Rahm sank two clutch birdie putts late in the final round of the 121st U.S. Open golf tournament and held off Louis Oosthuizen to win his first major championship Sunday at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
Rahm, who was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament while holding a six-shot lead earlier this month due to COVID-19 issues, moved into a tie with Oosthuizen at 5-under par with a 24-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th hole.
The Spaniard then got up and down from a greenside bunker on the par-5 18th hole and sank an 18-foot birdie putt to grab a one-shot lead over Oosthuizen, who failed to force a playoff after a bogey on hole No. 17.
"I'm a big believer in karma, and after what happened a couple weeks ago, I stayed really positive knowing big things were coming," said Rahm, who became the first Spaniard to win the U.S. Open. "I didn't know when it was going to be, but I knew we were coming to a special place.
"I got my breakthrough win here and it's a very special place for my family. My parents were able to come, I got out of COVID protocol early, I just felt the stars were aligning. I knew my best golf was to come. ... I can't even believe I made the last two putts, and I'm the first Spaniard to ever win a U.S. Open."
The 26-year-old Rahm became the fourth major winner since 2000 to birdie the 17th and 18th holes in the final round, according to ESPN Stats & Information, joining Tiger Woods (2000 PGA Championship), Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters) and Phil Mickelson (2013 Open Championship).
Rahm, who returned to No. 1 in the world with the victory, shot a 4-under 67 in the last round and was 6-under 278 for the tournament. Oosthuizen was even par Sunday and finished at 5-under 279.
"Look, it's frustrating. It's disappointing," Oosthuizen said. "I'm playing good golf, but winning a major championship is not just going to happen. You need to go out and play good golf. I played good today, but I didn't play good enough."
Defending U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, trying to become just the fourth player since World War II to capture back-to-back wins in the tournament, found himself at the top of the leaderboard before experiencing a meltdown on the back nine.
DeChambeau had two birdies on the front nine shot 8-over par in his last nine holes -- including a quadruple-bogey 8 on No. 17 -- to end with a final-round 77.
Rory McIlroy, who won the U.S. Open in 2011, shot a 73 on the last day to end in a six-way tie for seventh at 1-under 283.
Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson finished 2-over par for the tournament and tied for 19th. Hideki Matsuyama, who won the Masters earlier this year, was a shot back of that group and tied for 26th.