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US Open runner-up Will Zalatoris said it best after his epic tussle with eventual champion Matt Fitzpatrick at The Country Club when he declared: "That's why you play the game. There's nothing like it."
For the third time in the last seven majors, Zalatoris finished in second as Fitzpatrick won at Brookline again, to add the US Open trophy to his title there as an amateur.
THE PLOT THICKENS: Greg Norman's big move as Fitzpatrick wins US Open
The thrilling finale came amid an ever-present backdrop in the form of the LIV Golf series - the Saudi-backed rebel competition headed up by Aussie legend Greg Norman.
With a reported war chest of $3 billion to try and entice some of the best golfers in the world to join, LIV dominated much of the discussion before the US Open.
It took until the opening round of the US Open for the attention to shift away from Norman's money grab and return to the highest level of competition. But it was worth the wait. This US Open delivered in so many ways.
The Country Club, hosting its fourth US Open and its first since 1988, produced an ideal test to identify the week's best player. There was enough length on the par 4s, a par 3 that adjusted for elevation played under 100 yards and greens that only held the best shots.
It was the fourth straight year there was a first-time major champion at the US Open, though Fitzpatrick was hardly a surprise. He knew Brookline as well as anyone from having made it through six matches to win the US Amateur, and this was his fourth top-10 finish in his last five tournaments. He was in the final group at his second straight major.
The contenders featured four of the top seven players in the world on the weekend. It also had three players in the top final top 10 who had to get through 36-hole qualifying just to get to the US Open. One of them was Denny McCarthy, who made the cut on the number and a 68-68 weekend moved him all the way into a tie for seventh.
And this was one week after Rory McIlroy won the Canadian Open, golf's fourth-oldest national open, in a tense duel with Justin Thomas.
By contrast, only four players who had been in the first LIV event made the cut from the 17 at the US Open, in a brutal reality check for Norman's series.
The best finish came from Dustin Johnson, who birdied two of his last three holes to tie for 24th.
Bryson DeChambeau wasn't in London for the inaugural LIV event last week - he signed up the weekend before the US Open and will be outside of Portland, Oregon, at the end of the month. He finished his final round before the leaders teed off and had three birdies in his weekend rounds of 76-75.
As for LIV's biggest drawcard Phil Mickelson? He didn't even make it to the weekend. Not to worry. His next tournament in the LIV series doesn't have a cut, just a lot of money and little relevance.
Mickelson reportedly signed up to the Saudi-backed series for an eye-watering $US 200 million - with millions more on offer in prizemoney at the various tournaments.
Matt Fitzpatrick pockets record US Open payday
Sure, there were a few money matters mentioned at the US Open too; Fitzpatrick won the US Amateur at The County Club in 2013, which came with a gold trophy and a chance to play in three majors. This title brought $US3.15 million from the largest purse in US Open history.
Scottie Scheffler, the Masters champion and No.1 player in the world, finished second with Zalatoris and earned more than $US1.5 million. That allowed Scheffler to set a single-season PGA Tour record at nearly $US12.9 million, easily breaking the mark Jordan Spieth set in 2015 - and there's still two full months to go.
Charl Schwartzel won $US4.75 million a week earlier competing in the inaugural LIV Golf event. It was 54 holes with no cut, a 48-man field that featured only four players from the top 50 in the world ranking.
No one will ever mistake that for the toughest test in golf.
Fitzpatrick revealed just what it meant to beat the best golfers in the world and claim his maiden major title.
"It's what you grow up dreaming of," said Fitzpatrick, moments after a shot that will become part of US Open lore.
He hit 9-iron from behind a lip in a fairway bunker on the 18th hole at Brookline that settled 18 feet behind the pin and led to his one-shot victory.
"It's something I've worked at so hard for such a long time. First win in America, and to do it in a major, there's nothing better."
Fitzpatrick says he's looking forward to some time away from golf to decompress and wrap his head around the notion he's a major champion, the third from England in the last decade, joining Danny Willett (2016 Masters) and Justin Rose (2013 U.S. Open).
He is No. 10 in the world, a career high, and can finally celebrate a victory in America. Zalatoris suffered another close call - his third runner-up finish in the last seven majors - while Scheffler has a Masters green jacket and a US Open silver medal. It's been a pretty good year.
They meet up again in a month at St. Andrews for the British Open, the 150th staging of the sport's oldest championship at the home of golf.
It can't get here soon enough.
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