Rahm finds the winning formula in Foursomes
April 28, 2019
By Mike McAllister , PGATOUR.COM
- Jon Rahm paired up with Ryan Palmer to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
AVONDALE, La. – Last fall at the Ryder Cup in Paris, Jon Rahm did not appear in either of the two Foursomes sessions for the European team. There was a good reason.
“I was quite erratic off the tee,” Rahm said.
Even Rahm, an uber-competitor playing in his first Ryder Cup, couldn’t argue with the decision by Captain Thomas Bjorn to keep him on the sidelines at Le Golf National, a tight course that punished wayward drives. “It was shown that it was a smart thing not for me to play those Foursomes,” he said.
But if there was ever any doubt that Rahm’s game continues to mature, consider how he and partner Ryan Palmer performed in the two Foursomes rounds this week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
First, there was the 7-under 65 in the second round, the lowest score of any partnership in Foursomes since the Zurich Classic converted to a team format in 2017.
Then on Sunday, with the pressure of entering as 54-hole co-leaders (with Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax), Rahm-Palmer produced a 3-under 69 in tough scoring conditions at TPC Louisiana to claim a three-shot victory.
Although Rahm didn’t have a particularly accurate day off the tee Sunday – “I hit two fairways – 4-iron and 7-iron,” he said -- he was extremely pleased with how his driver performed the rest of the week, especially in the second and third rounds when their team moved into prime contention. Le Golf National may not have suited him for Foursomes last fall, but TPC Louisiana certainly did this week.
“What failed me then was really strong this week, besides today, for the most part,” Rahm said. “For the first three days, I hit the driver about as good as I’ve ever hit, trying to hit it has hard as possible most of the time.
“Today the ones that I missed weren’t too far off the fairway. They were always in play, which is what I was looking for today, right? I never wanted to put Ryan in an impossible spot and having to lay up for par.”
Rahm even allowed himself to be talked out of hitting driver at the 306-yard par-4 16th. Having just birdied the 15th to take control of the leaderboard, he wanted to keep the pedal down. But Palmer – as well as caddie James Edmondson and Adam Hayes – convinced him to take a conservative approach with a lay-up 7-iron to avoid the water.
“I was held up by three people because all I had in my mind was driver,” Rahm said. “I’m like, if I hit it good, I’m going to fly it on the green. Water wasn’t in my mind. Perfect fader’s hole. If not, we’re 30 yards to the right, dump it on the green, two-putt.
“But I’ve got to think of my partner; he had to hit the next shot. … It was the smart choice.”
It was the winning choice, as it turned out. Rahm, as we’re seeing, is maturing before our eyes. The talent is there, and now the maturity is showing too. In fact, he even taught the 42-year-old Palmer a few things this week.
“It’s really fun to play with a guy that can not only hit the ball the way he does, but watching his short game – I learned so much from watching it, the shots he hits when he’s got a bump-and-run or flop it…
“He’s got a special art.”
Rahm admits that Foursomes is challenging for him mentally, if only because he’s not 100 percent in control of the outcome.
“Obviously I had full confidence in Ryan all week, but even some moments as a player, like man, I can see this shot but I can’t hit it,” Rahm said. “It’s definitely the hardest thing, at least it was for me.”
Still, he found a way to win with Palmer this week. That doesn’t really bode well for the Americans at next year’s Ryder Cup. It's highly unlikely that Rahm will be sitting out Foursomes that week.