Rahm on the verge of joining elite fraternity
August 03, 2016
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- With two top-3 finishes in four professional starts, Jon Rahm is close to earning his 2016-17 TOUR card. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
When Jon Rahm made the decision to turn professional earlier this summer at Quicken Loans National, he understood the road to earning his PGA TOUR card wouldn't be easy.
Looking at record books, the odds were stacked firmly against the 21-year-old making it to the big leagues on his first try.
In the history of the TOUR, only eight players had successfully earned their card directly out of college, and the list included some high-profile names: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Leonard.
Less than two months into his pro career, Rahm is on the verge of smashing the odds and adding his name to the list after accepting Special Temporary Membership (STM) on TOUR. The new designation allows him to take unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the season in an effort to earn membership for next season.
Non-members can accept up to seven sponsor exemptions on TOUR. It only took Rahm four starts to earn STM following a third-place finish at the RBC Canadian Open that came on the heels of his runner-up finish at Quicken Loans National.
Rahm has earned 382 FedExCup points and $868,008. He will earn his TOUR card for next season if he can equal or surpass No. 125 on either list at season's end. His current totals would rank him 130th on the FedExCup points list and No. 104 on the money list.
Some players stay the course and eventually make it to the TOUR. Rahm, on the other hand, is blazing his own trail while joining the growing list of twentysomethings that are changing the face of the sport.
Rahm has embraced the lofty expectations that were placed upon him following his departure from Arizona State University as the most decorated amateur in school history since Phil Mickelson.
"After his freshman year, I knew he was a special player," said Tim Mickelson, Rahm's head coach at Arizona State. "I continued to feel that and see results on the course. He's a great player but an even better person and he's taken the challenge of earning his card head on."
Mickelson had a front row seat to the show Rahm put on during his time in Tempe, Arizona. Over four years on the team, Rahm became a two-time Ben Hogan Award winner and finished his collegiate career with 11 wins, second-best in school history behind Phil Mickelson's 16.
During those years in school, Mickelson and Rahm formed a close bond that eventually led to Mickelson departing Arizona State last month after five successful seasons to become Rahm's day-to-day manager.
"I don't know if I told him personally before, but I always said that while I was in the States those four years he was pretty much my dad," Rahm said. "He was the guy I went to when I needed help and the guy I went to when I needed guidance."
Mickelson, who officially joined Lagardere on Wednesday, will handle work on Rahm's future schedule, handle requests and help Rahm in his TOUR transition.
"I started to lose the drive to recruit every day," Mickelson said of the decision to leave his job at Arizona State. "I felt like it was time for someone else to come in and take over, and this was a great opportunity to start something new. I've been thinking about going this route for some time, but this is the perfect situation for me."
With his card almost secure and Mickelson in his corner for the long-haul, Rahm is setting his sights on making the most of three more starts, starting with the Travelers Championship — an event that gave Rahm a sponsor exemption last season.
"It is a little bit of a relief not having to think on FedExCup points or money anymore," Rahm said of his new status. "I don't have that in the back of my head, but I still compete to win every week."
Jon Rahm earns special status before Travelers