Clinical Rahm wins Masters as Koepka fades

Final Round

Jon Rahm came through a Sunday tussle with Brooks Koepka to claim a dominant four-stroke victory and secure a return to world No 1 at The Masters.

The Spaniard trailed by four strokes heading into a marathon Sunday at Augusta National, where players had to return early to complete their third rounds, with Rahm still two behind Koepka when the pair went out in the final group in the fourth round.

Early errors from Koepka saw Rahm move to the top of the leaderboard inside six holes, with the 28-year-old never relinquishing control as he fired a three-under 69 to comfortably hold off the chasing pack and claim a fourth win of 2023.

Rahm – who four-putted his opening hole of the tournament – ended the week on 12 under to capture a second major title, with the win also seeing him leapfrog Scottie Scheffler – who completed his title defence in tied-10th – at the top of the world rankings.

An eventful start to the final round saw Koepka pull his opening drive on to another fairway before firing a superb approach over the trees, setting up a two-putt par, as Rahm got up and down from the back of the green to remain at nine under.

Both players missed birdie opportunities at the par-five second but Rahm closed the gap with a 10-foot birdie at the third, then moved into a share of the lead when Koepka failed to scramble a par from a greenside bunker.

Some errant shots saw Koepka’s challenge fade.

Koepka bogeyed the sixth after a clunky chip from the back of the green, while Rahm responded to another squandered birdie chance at the seventh by producing a delightful pitch to set up a tap-in at the next and move two ahead.

The pair missed the ninth green and ended their front nines with a bogey, with Phil Mickelson moving alongside Koepka in tied-second after five birdies in his last seven holes saw him set the clubhouse target at eight under.

Koepka bounced back from a bogey at the 12th by getting up and down to take advantage of the par-five next, where Rahm also picked up a shot for the first of back-to-back birdies to open up a four-shot cushion.

Pars over the next three holes moved Rahm closer to his victory target, as Koepka temporarily reclaimed solo second with back-to-back birdies from the 15th, but he then bogeyed the 17th to slip back alongside Mickelson in tied-second.

Rahm elected to lay-up on the par-four last after a nervy final tee shot and pitched onto the green with his third shot, with a brilliant up and down completing an outstanding win and seeing him become the first European to have won both The Masters and the US Open.

Rahm reacts after making par on the 18th.

A final-hole bogey saw Jordan Spieth card a six-under 66 and drop into tied-fourth with Patrick Reed and Russell Henley, while Viktor Hovland – who was within three of the lead going into the final round – dropped into tied-seventh on six under after a two-over 74.

“We all dream of things like this as players, and you try to visualise what it’s going to be like and what it’s going to feel like,” Rahm said.

“When I hit that third shot on the green, and I could tell it was close by the crowd’s reaction, just the wave of emotion of so many things just overtook me.

“Never thought I was going to cry by winning a golf tournament, but I got very close on that 18th hole.

“A lot of it because of what it means to me, and to Spanish golf: It’s Spain’s 10th major, fourth player to win the Masters, and my second major win. It’s pretty incredible.”

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