American Wyndham Clark held his nerve to win his first major championship in the 123rd US Open as Rory McIlroy once again missed out on a fifth title.
Clark, a 120/1 outsider at the start of the week, carded a closing 70 at Los Angeles Country Club to finish 10 under par, a shot ahead of McIlroy.
McIlroy’s only birdie of his own 70 came on the opening hole and his sole bogey on the 14th helped give Clark the breathing space he needed to complete a hard-fought but deserved victory.
The world number 32 only won his first PGA Tour title last month and had missed the cut in his previous two US Opens, while his best finish in any major was a tie for 75th in the 2021 US PGA.
In contrast, McIlroy has now recorded 19 top-10 finishes since winning the last of his four majors in the 2014 US PGA – a month after claiming the Open at Royal Liverpool, footage of which had influenced his somewhat conservative approach this week.
Starting the final round a shot off the lead, McIlroy made the ideal start with a two-putt birdie on the first and Clark did likewise, only for the American to three-putt the second.
Clark hit a superb approach to the par-three fourth and converted the birdie putt from five feet, before picking up another shot on the short sixth.
McIlroy missed from four feet for birdie on the par-five eighth, seemingly opening the door for Clark to extend his lead in the group behind.
But Clark found a bad lie in the tall rough with his approach and needed two attempts to escape before getting up and down from the back of the green to drop just one shot.
Another shot looked likely to go when Clark missed the ninth green and was faced with an awkward shot from the bank of a bunker, but he cleverly played beyond the flag and utilised the contours of the green to draw the ball back to seven feet and save par.
A flop shot Phil Mickelson would have been proud of ensured Clark also saved par on the 11th and he increased his lead when McIlroy’s run of 12 pars ended with a bogey on the 14th.
McIlroy was perhaps fortunate to get a free drop when his approach became embedded in the face of a greenside bunker, but he was unable to get up and down for par.
Clark then struck a brilliant approach on to the green from 282 yards and two-putted for birdie from 20 feet to extend his lead to three.
That cushion was short-lived as Clark bogeyed the par-three 15th and then found sand off the tee on the next as McIlroy crucially holed from seven feet for par up ahead.
With no chance of reaching the green, Clark laid up into the fairway before hitting a superb third to seven feet, only to miss the par putt.
But with McIlroy unable to find a birdie to increase the pressure, Clark bravely parred the last two holes to seal the win.
World number one Scottie Scheffler finished two shots behind McIlroy in third, with Open champion Cameron Smith fourth and Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler and Min Woo Lee sharing fifth.
Fleetwood had earlier come agonisingly close to making major championship history after carding a stunning closing 63, the Ryder Cup star missing from five feet for birdie on the 18th.
That would have seen Fleetwood shoot the first 62 in the final round of a major, the record having been set by Branden Grace in the third round of the 2017 Open and equalled by Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele on Thursday.
It is the second time Fleetwood has carded a 63 in the final round of the US Open – he also missed a short putt for a 62 at Shinnecock Hills in 2018 and finished a shot behind Brooks Koepka.
“Missed a six-footer on the first (for birdie), missed a five-footer on the last, and then everything in between was really, really good,” Fleetwood said with a smile when asked to sum up his round.
“I just need to be higher up the leaderboard coming into Sunday and then have another day like today.”
Asked about being the only player to shoot two closing 63s in the US Open, Fleetwood added: “It’s a nice little piece of history, of course, it is.
“And you can be disappointed with what I didn’t get out of today, but I think having something like that and shooting multiple 63s in a major, anything you can put in the memory bank and know your game can stand up on a major golf course and shoot low scores is really nice to have.”