Rahm riding high at Jack’s PlaceJon Rahm survived a tough Sunday at the Memorial Tournament for his 4th TOUR title
July 19, 2020
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Jon Rahm’s Round 4 highlights from the Memorial
DUBLIN, Ohio – A procession to victory just wouldn’t have been the Spanish way.
Jon Rahm rode a final round rollercoaster to secure the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide at Muirfield Village in true Spanish style by surviving some tricky short game shots, a two-shot penalty, and the evaporation of a huge lead.
His idol Seve Ballesteros would have been proud. And believe it or not, despite the heart palpitations, Rahm wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sure he could have kept the incredible eight-shot lead he held over his Zurich Classic of New Orleans partner Ryan Palmer at the turn and ensured the last nine holes was a casual waltz to his golf destiny. But where’s the fun in that?
Ballesteros was a maestro when things got tough, finding ways to escape from trouble. Rahm needed some of the same magic on Sunday at a brutal Muirfield Village that played hard and fast in swift winds.
The 25-year-old had seen his eight shot lead drop to three shots when he and Palmer stood on the 15th tee. He was bleeding, momentum against him. Surely he couldn’t possibly let it slip … but then he had done so on the last two occasions he held the 54-hole lead.
But despite the fact his accuracy on approach continued to desert him, Rahm focused in hard. He refused to surrender to the internal demons and got up and down for clutch pars on the 15th, 17th and 18th holes and chipped in for what was initially considered a birdie on the 16th hole only for a two-shot penalty to be added after the fact.
Rahm had inadvertently made the ball move as he addressed the shot and hadn’t replaced it, turning his score into a bogey. Thankfully it mattered not. The magic had lasted long enough to stay three shots up and give Rahm a fourth PGA TOUR title, securing his ascension to world No. 1 on the way. He is just the second Spaniard, behind Ballesteros, to hold that status.
“One of the best performances of my life,” Rahm said afterwards. “Yesterday was probably one of the best rounds of my life and finished today with some clutch up-and-downs. And as a Spaniard, I'm kind of glad it happened that way. Every shot counts, and I tried every shot and got those two last up-and-downs, as a true Spaniard would.
“My short game has been unbelievable all week. It's been so good, and I've gotten close to chipping in a couple times. You always hear about people saying champions make it happen, and at that point I made it happen.”
Jon Rahm assessed two-stroke penalty after chip-in at the Memorial
In the past Rahm admits he would not have made it happen in similar circumstances. Emotion plays a huge role in his golf and in the past, on occasion, it has worked against him. But now, despite the fact he admitted he would celebrate by watching a children’s movie with his wife, Rahm says he has matured. He’s found ways to grow and channel his emotion into good.
“I'm a person who unfortunately I'm fully aware I learn from mistakes. I act, foolishly or not. I'll do my action, and I'll learn from it, good or bad,” he explains.
“Luckily I've been pretty good at learning from my mistakes and getting a little bit better each time and today was a clear example of it. I could have completely lost it many times. Maybe in the past I would have, but I didn't. I just kept fighting. I knew it was a complete grind, and it's a true honor to be now the Memorial Tournament champion presented by Nationwide and to be part of Jack's legacy.”
Rahm, who moved to eighth in the FedExCup with the win, was still in shock at his move to the top of the world. He’s never shied away from this being a huge goal despite the fact admitting in the past when the chance was right there in front of him, it affected his play.
“I made that deal with myself very young, I believe at 13 or 14 I started working towards that goal, and everything I've done golf-wise has been to become No. 1 in the world and become the best player I can be,” Rahm said after taking top spot from Rory McIlroy.
“It's pretty surreal to think it's happened this quickly, in less than 10 years. I mean, how many people get to achieve a lifelong dream in their mid-20s? It's incredible. To be a Spaniard, the second Spaniard to ever do it, given there's not many Europeans that have gotten to this spot, it's a pretty unique feeling, so I'm going to enjoy it for a while.”
Enjoying the achievement … now that is the Spanish way.