The Rise and Rise of Jon Rahm
IT ALL started for Spain Jon rahm in a primitive practice on the outskirts of Bilbao. Born with a deformed foot, Rahm spent much of his youth in hospital. He was introduced to golf when his parents started playing and very quickly Rahm was hooked.
His first club was Larabella, a course an hour’s drive from the family home. Eventually, his parents rented a house near the 10th tee so that young Jon could focus on his game. He spent hours honing his short game skills while learning to hit the ball as hard as he could. .
Growing up, he represented Spain at the European Boys’ Team Championship and the European Amateur Team Championship and achieved success, in addition to being part of the European team at the Palmer Cup. Leaving across the Atlantic to begin his college career, Rahm honed his English skills by memorizing rap lyrics!
In 2015, he finished fifth at the Phoenix Waste Management Open as an amateur. He had made it known to the world that he was a special talent. A very special talent. He quickly reached the top of the amateur world ranking. Rahm attended Arizona State University on a golf scholarship. There he won 11 college golf tournaments. Only Phil Mickelson, at 16, has a better academic record.
Rahm won the Ben Hogan Award in 2015 and 2016, the first player to win it twice. His total of 60 weeks atop the leaderboard is the all-time record. He won the Mark McCormack Medal in 2015 as the best player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, which qualified him for the US Open and Open Championship the following year and ended his college career by winning the Pac-12 Conference Championship and an NCAA Regional Championship forward finishing tied for third in the National Championship. He was the bottom amateur at the 2016 US Open, finishing his final tournament as an amateur tied for 23rd place at 7 over par.
After the US Open, Rahm turned pro which meant he lost his exemption for the 2016 Open. The Spaniard wasted no time in winning the pro ranks. His first event as a pro was the 2016 Quicken Loans National, where he finished tied for third, enough for Rahm to re-enter the Open, as Quicken Loans National was part of the Open Qualifying Series. Rahm tied for second at the Canadian Open, securing Special Temporary Member status for the remainder of the season. And he would earn enough points as a non-member to earn a PGA Tour card for 2017.
His first victory came at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in 2017. The then 22-year-old Spaniard hit his second shot into the final par-five hole at the back of the green and watched. in disbelief the ball headed for the hole, closer and closer. And then he disappeared into the hole for an eagle that won his first PGA Tour title and he screamed before hitting the chest of his junior, Adam Hayes – something he says now he can’t remember. not have done.
This victory took him from 137th to 46th in the world rankings and also allowed him to enter the Masters, Players Championship, US PGA and WGC events. In March, Rahm played his first WGC at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where he shot 67-70-67-68 (−12) rounds to tie for third, two strokes behind winner Dustin Johnson.
In the WGC-Dell Technologies play match, he finished second behind Johnson. On his way to the final, he beat Kevin Chappell, Shane Lowry, Sergio Garcia, Charles Howell III, Soren Kjeldsen and Bill Haas. By the end of that week, he had climbed to 14th place in the standings.
And so it continued.
Rahm tied for 27th place in his first Masters, then finished fourth at the Wells Fargo Championship and was a co-finalist in the Dean and DeLuca Invitational, results that propelled him to the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time.
His first appearance on the European Tour was at the French Open, where he finished tied for 10th place and the following week he traveled to Ireland and held a masterclass by winning the Irish Open. by six.
Rahm finished the 2017 PGA Tour season in fifth place in the FedEx Cup before returning to Europe to win the end-of-season DP Word Tour championship in Dubai. He was named Rookie of the Year on the European Tour despite only playing in four regular events.
In February 2018, he won the Career Builder Challenge after a sudden death in the playoffs with Andrew Landry, a success that lifted him to second place in the world rankings. He had won four times in 38 professional starts. He then returned to Europe and won the Spanish Open before playing a key role in Europe’s astonishing Ryder Cup victory over the United States at Golf National. He ended the year by winning the Hero World Challenge.
The 2019 season saw Rahm strengthen. He and Ryan Palmer won the Zurich Classic in April and in June he finished third at the US Open at Pebble Beach. He then returned to Europe and again won the Irish Open despite being five strokes behind Robert Rock before the final round. He also won the Spanish Open for the second year in a row and secured the Race to Dubai with a victory at the DP World Tour Championship, after which he was named European Tour Player of the Year.
He rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time in 2020 after his victory at the Memorial Tournament. He went on to win the BMW Championship, the second event of the FedEx Cup playoffs, hitting a huge putt on the first hole of the playoffs to defeat Dustin Johnson.
This year has been rich in events for the Spaniard. He was leading the six-stroke memorial tournament after 54 holes when told he had failed a Covid test. A few weeks later, he returned to action and birdied the last two holes to win the US Open at Torrey Pines. It was his first major, and there are sure to be many more to come. He followed this up by finishing tied for third at the Royal St George’s Open and was preparing to travel to Tokyo to compete in the Olympics when told he had failed another Covid test, forcing him to miss the Games.
Most recently, he formed a sensational partnership with Sergio Garcia during the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, recalling the legendary duo of Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal. This is one to watch for in the next match in Italy in 2023.
It’s been a hell of a race for the world number one so far.
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