News & Opinion

Rahm finds a lot to like about Emerald Isle

It has been a good year for Jon Rahm

LAHINCH, Ireland – It has been a good year for Jon Rahm. At least, that is how he characterized the first six months.

The fiery Spaniard’s blood doesn’t seem to be boiling, though he hasn’t won a solo tournament title since his Spanish Open victory in April 2018. Rahm, 24, is quick to point out that he won just three months ago, with teammate Ryan Palmer at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Jon Rahm, PGA Tour
As one of the best drivers on the PGA Tour, Jon Rahm has been a regular top-10 performer this season.

“Well, I have won this season,” Rahm said Wednesday before this week’s Irish Open at Lahinch Golf Club (tee times), when asked about his lack of recent victories. “I know it's New Orleans and it's a partners event, but I still count it as a win. If we are talking individually, yeah, I mean, I've had 10 top 10s so far.”

In his past two starts, Rahm posted a tie for second last week at the Andalucia Masters and a tie for third two weeks earlier at the U.S. Open.

Since he turned pro in 2016 out of Arizona State, Rahm has won six times worldwide: three on the PGA Tour and three on the European Tour. Since winning twice in the span of four weeks on the PGA Tour’s 2017 West Coast Swing, Rahm has been anchored among the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, though he recently slipped to 11th. With his physical presence and driver length – 306.7 yards off the tee, ranking 20th on Tour, and a strokes-gained-off-the-tee rating of .769, to rank fifth – Rahm has overpowered some courses and fields at a young age.

With eight top 10s in individual events on the PGA Tour in 2019 plus last week’s runner-up in Spain, Rahm has contended nearly every week. Yet, he has been tested recently because of his infrequent trips into the winner’s circle.

“I mentioned last year, it was a big year for personal growth, and that's what I was talking about,” said Rahm, responding to concerns about his on-course temper. “A lot of things in my life I had to mature about and slowly grow up, and it's translated into the golf course slowly. Maybe last year or a couple years ago, I wouldn't have made any top 10s because my head wouldn't have been in the right place. As simple as that. I don't know if it's patience. I feel the same way inside, but it's a little more under control. If it looks like patience, I'm glad it looks like that. I'll just say a little more calm and understanding of situations in life, in general.”

Rahm said he feels just as comfortable here on the southwest coast of Ireland as he did last week on Spain’s southern coast.

"I don't know why. It might be my love for the country of Ireland, but it's something that I feel like the support is here,” said Rahm, who won the 2017 Irish Open and tied for fourth in last year’s event. "The support is amazing. Every time I come, I'm just comfortable. It's a great feel.”

In two weeks, Rahm can tap into that comfort level on the Emerald Isle when the British Open visits Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951. In three appearances in the world’s oldest championship, Rahm has finished no better than T-44, two years ago at Royal Birkdale.

Rahm knows Portrush, having competed in the 2014 British Amateur, though he lost in the first round of match play. He likes the flow of the new schedule on the PGA and European tours.

“It's only right for the Open Championship to be the last major of the year,” he said. “The oldest and most traditional, for a European, arguably the most important one. Honestly, it helps the schedule. There's a big event every single month starting in March now, and I think it's a good thing, especially because there's a break in between. There’s more free time for us after the FedEx Cup to maybe come to Europe and play more events and have a chance to enjoy tournaments here without over-travelling or overcrowding our schedule.”

Perhaps there’s even enough time for Rahm to win again.

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: alex@morningread.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli