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Rory McIlroy shows class as he is first to congratulate US Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick despite own Major bid coming up just short


Rory McIlroy congratulates Matthew Fitzpatrick on winning the US Open at The Country Club at Brookline (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy congratulates Matthew Fitzpatrick on winning the US Open at The Country Club at Brookline (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Rory McIlroy congratulates Matthew Fitzpatrick on winning the US Open at The Country Club at Brookline (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy showed his class as he was one of the first people to congratulate England's Matthew Fitzpatrick on his US Open win at The Country Club at Brookline, despite the Holywood man's own Major bid coming up just short in Massachussets.

McIlroy had made what is becoming a traditional late surge on Sunday as back-to-back birdies at the par-five 14th and par-four 15th moved him within three shots of the lead at the time, but it was too little, too late as three pars to finish led to a one-under 69, which saw him finish at two-under-par.

Even if he had added three more birdies in his closing holes he would have come up short as Fitzpatrick produced some superb golf down the stretch to hold off Will Zalatoris and World No.1 Scottie Scheffler to win his first Major title at six-under-par.

His victory was capped by a world class fairway bunker shot on the 18th hole, the 27-year-old seemingly blocked out by the lip of the hazard but firing an incredible wedge to the heart of the green and two-putting for the par that would win the trophy.

And after his victory was confirmed when Zalatoris narrowly missed a birdie putt that would have forced a play-off, McIlroy was one of the first men on the 18th green to congratulate Fitzpatrick on a hard-fought success.

"All that work paid off. I'm so happy for you!" the four-time Major champion praised.

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McIlroy himself can still be very proud of his week's work as he secured another top-five finish at a Major, with this his third consecutive top-10 finish at one of golf's four main prizes and his fourth in his last five, while he is set to move up to second in the world rankings above Jon Rahm, his highest position since July 2020.

After a three-over 73 on Saturday left him three shots off the lead going into the final round, the 33-year-old needed to go low on Sunday to mount a challenge, and he found enough birdies to make it happen but it was accompanied by several bogeys, too.

He picked up a shot on the opening hole with a fine putt down the slope, but a wild run of five holes starting at the third saw him bogey three and birdie two to drop back to where he started the day at one-under at the turn.

Another bogey came at the 108-yard par-three 11th when he missed the green and failed to make up-and-down, but he sparked hopes of a remarkable comeback with those back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15.

But despite having good birdies chance at the 17th and 18th, both stayed above ground to end his hopes, but he can be pleased with how his game is trending after a fifth top-10 finish in his last six starts in all events.

Above him it was another incredible championship as England's Fitzpatrick came out on top against a star-studded leaderboard to win his maiden Major as a two-under 68 in his final round was just enough to keep Scheffler and fellow overnight leader Zalatoris at bay.

Scheffler had made the first move on Sunday as the Masters champion birdied four of his first six holes to reach six-under, but back-to-back bogeys at the 10th and 11th dropped him back to four-under and into the chasing pack, while Zalatoris bounced back from early bogeys at the second and third with three birdies in the final four holes of his front nine to reach the turn five-under.

Fitzpatrick was six-under at the halfway point of the final round after three birdies and a bogey, and the back nine would prove to be a duel between him and Zalatoris as they both picked up key birdies and untimely bogeys, while Scheffler stayed the course with a run of pars to remain one shot back at four-under.

But Fitzpatrick produced two significant body blows on the back nine, draining a monster birdie putt at the par-four 13th and then dropping in another at the par-four 15th to reach six-under, with Zalatoris holding one stroke adrift after a birdie on the par-three 16th after a fine tee shot.

Scheffler applied the pressure with a birdie at the par-four 17th to set the clubhouse target at five-under and it seemed Fitzpatrick had crumbled when he pulled his tee shot at the final hole left into the bunker, but an astonishing shot rescued the par and left him within touching distance.

It could yet have gone to a play-off had Zalatoris holed a birdie putt of his own to join him at six-under, but his effort shaved the hole left and Fitzpatrick was able to celebrate, with McIlroy joining him on the green to share in his joy.

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