Breaking News Bar
updated: 9/12/2017 9:51 PM

Rozner: No kidding, Jon Rahm just getting started

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Jon Rahm, here preparing for the BMW Championship on Tuesday at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, has climbed to No. 5 in the World Golf Rankings.

      Jon Rahm, here preparing for the BMW Championship on Tuesday at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, has climbed to No. 5 in the World Golf Rankings.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Jon Rahm, 22, practices on the 15th hole while preparing for the BMW Championship on Tuesday at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest. The 22-year-old Spaniard ranks fifth on the money list and 10th in scoring this season.

      Jon Rahm, 22, practices on the 15th hole while preparing for the BMW Championship on Tuesday at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest. The 22-year-old Spaniard ranks fifth on the money list and 10th in scoring this season.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • With Jordan Spieth, left and Wesley Bryan behind him, Jon Rahm hits a shot toward the 15th hole during Tuesday's practice round at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.

      With Jordan Spieth, left and Wesley Bryan behind him, Jon Rahm hits a shot toward the 15th hole during Tuesday's practice round at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 

The 60-footer from the back of the green on 18 at Torrey Pines felt like it took forever to get there.

But it's a green that echoes with its own memories, and instantly it had the distance, the multiple breaks and the reaction of Tiger Woods on the same surface nine years earlier.

Yeah, Jon Rahm had a right to celebrate, jumping into the arms of caddie Adam Hayes. His eagle putt put away the Farmers and gave the 22-year-old his first PGA Tour victory, which for many signaled his arrival on the big stage.

He did, after all, come from 3 back on Sunday to win by 3, shooting 30 on the back to demolish the field, collecting 2 birdies and 2 eagles in the final 8 holes.

That, however, was not the announcement.

The trumpets were blowing when he finished low amateur at the 2016 U.S. Open at the brutally tough Oakmont, playing nearly even with winner Dustin Johnson over the final three days of the tournament.

"That seems like a lot more than a year ago," Rahm said with a smile after finishing a practice round at Conway Farms in Lake Forest Tuesday morning. "So much has happened."

Rahm turned pro after Oakmont and his coach at ASU, Tim Mickelson, left with Rahm to become his agent. Rahm then added the veteran Hayes on his bag before this season, which has been a whirlwind.

Rahm was the youngest winner ever at Torrey Pines in January, captured the Irish Open in July, and has posted nine top 10s on Tour this season with five top 3s, including a third and fourth in the first two playoff events heading into this week's BMW Championship.

Rahm is No. 5 in the FedEx Cup and fifth in the Official World Golf Rankings behind only Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas.

That's a remarkable rookie year.

"It's not something I was expecting so soon in my career. It's a wow factor when I think about it," Rahm said while working the rope line post round, warmly signing about 200 autographs. "You try to make it as routine as possible, as normal as it can be, but truth be told it's hard not to think about it.

"These were long-term goals and I achieved them in such a short time, but I try to stay in the moment as much as possible."

Heading into the Memorial in early June, Rahm was arguably the hottest player on tour. And then golf happened. It's not an easy game, and it's easy to get lost for a while.

The next three months weren't pretty.

"I've always been consistent. What I needed to learn was the will to keep playing and the will to keep working to get better when things were going wrong," Rahm said. "I had a really good run up until the Memorial and then I struggled with my golf game, so being able to come back from that is something I had to learn."

The young Spaniard also had to learn that because he's a superstar, the cameras will always be on him in America and the experts will always look for ways to poke holes.

In Rahm's case, any time he loses his temper or drops his driver on the tee box, someone will make an issue of it, but the reality is he runs hot and that slice of his personality also contributes to his greatness.

He's an exceptional athlete, and athletes -- professional or not -- tend to show their displeasure when frustrated.

Golfers, for some inexplicable reason, are held to a different standard and aren't supposed to appear human when angry.

"It's part of who we are. Some people react to bad shots differently," Rahm explained. "I'm emotional. I like to feel my emotions.

"I understand it always needs to be under control. Even when I'm under control, I do it more than others. So what I need to do is stay under control and make sure it helps me more than it hurts me."

It might be fair to remember that the affable Rahm is 22 and from a much different culture, arriving at Arizona State without knowing a word of English only five years ago.

Attending classes freshman year was as simple as an unplanned mission to Mars, and Rahm might have gone home if not for Mickelson, who became his American father in so many ways.

Sure, now he's 6-feet-2 and 220 pounds with absurd natural power, a thick bank account and magazine covers, but really he's still just a kid.

While playing a practice round with fellow children Spieth, Thomas and Wes Bryan early Tuesday, Rahm arrived on the par-3 17th tee to find a sparkling new BMW 760i with 601 HP and V-12 power.

Now, I don't know what any of that means, but Rahm immediately jumped into the driver's seat and fired up the engine, revving it until the auto was roaring and so were his playing partners.

A big kid, yes, but still a kid.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

World Golf Rankings

1. Dustin Johnson (USA)

2. Jordan Spieth (USA)

3. Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)

4. Justin Thomas (USA)

5. Jon Rahm (Spain)

6. Rory McIlroy (Ireland)

7. Henrik Stenson (Sweden)

8. Sergio Garcia (Spain)

9. Jason Day (Australia)

10. Rickie Fowler (USA)

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.