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U.S. Open: 4 Takeaways from a wild championship Sunday

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The 122nd U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. concluded Sunday afternoon on Father’s Day with Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick winning by one stroke over Will Zalatoris.

Despite landing in the left fairway bunker on the par-four 18th hole, Fitzpatrick hit a nine-iron out of the sand and on to the green. He would go on to two-putt for par to win his first major tournament.

“If there is one shot I’ve struggled with this year that I just do not want is a fairway bunker shot. It’s one of the best shots of all time. When I saw it leave the sand and I felt the strike, I couldn’t be happier.”

Fitzpatrick told NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico after U.s. Open win

Here are four takeaways from the final day of the third major of the season.

Matt Fitzpatrick on same line with Jack Nicklaus

matt fitzpatrick u.s. open win
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The 27-year-old Fitzpatrick, who finished with a six-under 274, has entered rarified air with his major win. He became the first player since 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus to win the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open on the same course.

Related: Players with the most all-time major wins

While Fitzpatrick accomplished his U.S. Open win Sunday at The Country Club after winning the U.S. Amateur in 2013, Nicklaus accomplished both wins at Pebble Beach – the U.S. Amateur in 1961 and the US Open in 1972.  

“Anytime you share a record with Jack Nicklaus is incredible,” Fitzpatrick said. “For me to have that as well is incredible and he called me before the presentation to congratulate me. Coming from someone like that, it means the world.”

Fitzpatrick also became the second Englishman in 50 years to win America’s national championship.

In addition to his big save on the 18th hole, he also nailed down a long 48-footer for birdie on the par-4 13th hole to get a share of the lead.

His shot to the 18th green was one of 17 greens in regulation Fitzpatrick hit during the final round, which led to 5.65 strokes gained around the green. That led the field.

Fitzpatrick said his final approach shot on the 72nd hole was a result of positive shots on each of the three holes before.

“If I’m honest, I look back at my three approaches into 15, 16 17 as all really, really good shots. 18 was kind of hit and hope,” he said.  

Related: Golf world reacts to Matt Fitzpatrick winning 2022 U.S. Open

2. Will Zalatoris inching closer and closer to major title

PGA: U.S. Open - Final Round
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Last month at the PGA Championship, Will Zalatoris lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas. On Sunday, Zalatoris was once again in the final grouping with the opportunity to reach the top.

However, after hitting the fairway and a shorter approach shot on the 72nd hole compared to Fitzpatrick, Zalatoris could not knock down his 14-foot putt to force a playoff, resulting in another major tournament runner-up finish.

Zalatoris was also a runner-up at last year’s Masters.

“It stings obviously to have three runner-ups so far in my career in majors. But, keep knocking on that door. We’re obviously doing the right things. I pay a lot of money for about an inch-and-a-half and I would be a three-time major champion at this point. So, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.”

Zalatoris said after his final round of U.S. Open

Despite two bogeys through the first three holes, Zalatoris bounced back with four birdies in a six-hole span. After his birdie on the 11th hole, he would take a two-shot lead going into the final stretch of holes.

Zalatoris would then bogey the par-4 12th and the par-4 15th holes but regained momentum on the par-3 16th by knocking down a birdie putt to get one back before the final two holes.

The 25-year-old continues to get himself closer and closer to claiming a major championship victory.

Including this weekend, Zalatoris has six top-10s in his first nine majors. In the other three majors, he has two missed cuts and one withdrawl. With the final major tournament – The Open Championship – of the season taking place next month, Zalatoris has the opportunity to begin his quest for a Grand Slam.

If not, then he will have to wait until the Masters Tournament next April.  

3. Three Top golfers finish inside the top five of the U.S. Open

Players at the top of the Official World Golf Rankings brought games as well on championship Sunday behind Fitzpatrick.

Tying with Zalatoris was World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler at -5.

Scheffler, who won the Masters two months ago, got the putter firing early by making four birdies in the first six holes. However, back-to-back bogeys on holes 10 and 11 as well as lip-out putts that turned birdies into pars did not favor Scheffler’s chance to win a Masters and a U.S. Open in the same season.

The 25-year-old Scheffler, said he came up one shot short of hoisting the trophy because of putts that could not fall.  

“I gave myself a chance to win the U.S. Open,” Scheffler said to the media after his round Sunday afternoon. “I performed very well today under a lot of pressure. I made some key putts to get the day going. Then I played some quality golf. It just so happened that the putts were going around the edges today. A few breaks here and there and I would be the one holding the trophy.”

In addition to Scheffler, World No. 4 Collin Morikawa and No. 2 Rory McIlroy both finished at -2 and tied for fifth.  

One of the best rounds of the day came from World No. 13 Hiedki Matsuyama, who shot a tournament-low 5-under 65. Matsuyama had a bogey-free round and made five birdies, including back-to-back on holes six and seven, as well as 12 and 13, before making his final birdie on hole 16.

4. Denny McCarthy finishes with eye-opener top-10

One of the surprise names in the top 10 was Denny McCarthy, who finished at -1 and tied for seventh.

With his top-10 finish, McCarthy gets an exemption into next year’s U.S. Open.

Like Scheffler, McCarthy shot low early, making three birdies in the first five holes. Despite a bogey on 9, he birdied the 12th hole.

McCarthy, who was ranked 121st in the Official World Golf Rankings entering this week, said he competed and could have at or near the top with his putter.

“I played really solid. It feels weird to say, but I felt like it could’ve been a decent amount lower,” McCarthy said. “I hit the ball so good today. Came out with the mindset I was going to try to win the U.S. Open today. I felt like played well enough to do that today. A really good putting weekend away from being right there at the top.”

The 29-year-old McCarthy, who received his PGA Tour Card last year, finished tied for fifth a couple weeks ago at the Memorial tournament and also finished tied for 48th at last month’s PGA Championship.  

McCarthy, who recorded his best finish at a major, said he is “proud” of where he is at right now and can not wait to improve at his craft.

“This is a big stage and I’m starting to get more comfortable at these events and I’ll be back for sure,” McCarthy said. “I like where my game is trending and I’m going to keep working hard. I have a really deep drive to get better and this is going to make me even more hungry.”