Clark pips McIlroy to US Open as Asian star Tom Kim registers first top-10 of his career

Los Angeles [US], June 19 (ANI): Rory McIlroy once again came close but was unable to end his nine-year Major drought as he fell one short of Wyndham Clark, who held his nerve and game to claim his maiden Major at the 123rd US Open.

The 29-year-old Clark, who was the co-leader after three rounds, grinded out an even par 70, which included a two-putt par from nearly 60 feet on the last green to secure his first major triumph with a one-stroke win on 10-under 270.

McIlroy (70) finished runner-up after a 70 while World No. 1 Scheffler (70) settled for third place on 8-under. Rickie Fowler, the co-overnight leader with Clark, shot a 74 to finish tied fourth alongside Australia’s Cameron Smith (67).

It was Clark’s second PGA TOUR triumph after breaking through at the Wells Fargo Championship just last month.

Leading the Asian challenge was Korea’s Tom Kim, who enjoyed his first career major top-10. Kim secured a memorable first career top-10 with a tied eighth finish.

American Indian Sahith Theegala closed with a 69 and finished T-27 with rounds of 74-66-73-69.

Kim, who will turn 21 on Wednesday, signed for a 1-under 69 in the final round at Los Angeles Country Club to break par for the third successive day after opening his campaign with a 73. It was only the second top-10 finish by a Korean golfer at the U.S. Open following Y.E. Yang’s tied third in 2011.

Already a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Kim’s progress in the majors has been trending upwards in recent times. He finished 23rd in his U.S. Open debut last year, T47 at The Open Championship last July and came in tied 16th in his first Masters Tournament appearance in April.

He made five birdies on the card on another tough scoring day on Sunday, including one on the closing hole to bounce back from a costly double bogey on 17. “We’re getting better. That’s on the positive side,” said Kim.

Kim’s strong week included a record-equalling outward 29 during Saturday’s third round of 66.

Clark, who lost his mother to cancer when he was still in college, said: “I just felt like my mom was watching over me today … she can’t be here. I miss you mom. I just feel like I’ve worked so hard and dreamed of this moment for so long. There’s been so many times I’ve visualised being here in front of you guys to win this championship. I just felt like it was my time.”

At one stage, he held a three-shot lead over McIlroy, who was chasing his fifth major victory, after a pivotal birdie on 14 but dropped bogeys over the next two holes to ensure a tense finish.

Clark safely two putted from 60 feet on the last hole to eventually hoist the U.S. Open trophy and earned US$$3.6 million and 600 FedExCup points.

Tommy Fleetwood of England carded a tournament record-equalling 63 for a share of sixth place on 275 alongside Australia’s Min Woo Lee (67). Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama closed with a 75 for T32 while Korea’s Si Woo Kim finished T39 after a 74.

McIlroy’s second place was his 19th top-10 in majors since his most recent title in 2014, the most of any player in that span. The 23-time TOUR winner now has 10 runner-up finishes on TOUR and three in major championships

Both Clark and McIlroy won their first PGA TOUR title at the Wells Fargo Championship and second at the U.S. Open

Scheffler retained the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking following a third-place finish, his 16th straight T12 or better on the PGA TOUR. He is the only player with top-10 finishes in each of the first three majors this season

Jon Rahm finished T10 and retains the lead in the FedExCup standings

The 2023 U.S. Open produced three rounds of 63 or better, the most in major championship history.