Laser-focused Jon Rahm enjoys family victory at Mexico Open
May 01, 2022
By Kevin Prise , PGATOUR.COM
- May 01, 2022
Jon Rahm speaks after winning Mexico Open
VIDANTA VALLARTA, Mexico – Inside the ropes, Jon Rahm maintains a laser focus.
The world No. 2 is one of the game’s premier athletes, a well-rounded power player who matches a high-voltage acoustic at impact with consistent competitive fire.
“He’s an athlete,” said Rahm’s caddie Adam Hayes. “He’s a competitor. When he’s out here, it’s business. It’s work.”
Perhaps the only factor that can provide a crack in Rahm’s competitive armor is family. As he approached the final green at this week’s Mexico Open at Vidanta, needing a two-putt from 23 feet on the back fringe to secure his first victory of the 2021-22 PGA TOUR season, Rahm caught a glance at his wife Kelley and 1-year-old son Kepa.
He allowed his mind to wander, albeit briefly, from the task at hand.
“At one point when I was reading the break, I saw (CBS reporter) Amanda (Renner) kind of give way for Kelley and Kepa to walk up to the front,” Rahm said. “I could only think, ‘I’d better two-putt this to make sure we can enjoy this moment.’”
Rahm did just that. The 27-year-old Spaniard lagged his birdie try to within inches of the hole, and he tapped in for a one-stroke victory at Vidanta Vallarta, finishing one stroke clear of a trio of players – Tony Finau, Brandon Wu and Kurt Kitayama – with a 17-under total amidst an idyllic setting in western Mexico.
Rahm secures his seventh PGA TOUR title, moves to No. 6 on the FedExCup and draws closer to Scottie Scheffler in his quest to return to the top spot on the Official World Golf Ranking.
He also earns his second title as a dad, the 2021 U.S. Open being his first. At Torrey Pines, Kepa was just 2 months old and spent most of the post-victory celebration in his mom’s arms.
This time, Kepa played during the trophy ceremony, running around No. 18 green as a smiling Kelley kept a watchful eye.
Rahm is known as one of the game’s foremost competitors. He admits to frustration at times on the course, and sometimes the chatter inside the ropes can be sparse, particularly down the stretch in Sunday contention – “we were all pretty quiet that whole round,” said playing partner Kitayama, who recorded a career-best runner-up finish, moving to No. 61 on the FedExCup and essentially clinching a Playoffs berth in his first season as a TOUR member.
But for his competitive strength, Rahm proves equally adept at switching gears once the scorecard is signed.
“He’s very good at separating work and the personal life,” said Hayes, a veteran caddie who has worked alongside Rahm since 2016. “When that last putt drops and he signs his scorecard, he kind of turns into ‘dad’ mode. It definitely helps having his family there; it helps keep his mind off it.
“Where some guys, if they don’t have family or they don’t have wives, they go back and sit in the room by themselves, and it’s the same. It can be lonely out here, so for him to have that, it’s a benefit.”Jon Rahm celebrates his Mexico Open victory with his wife Kelley and son Kepa. (Macarena Marañón/PGA TOUR)
Several players wait to have families until their careers have moved well past the peak stage. By all statistical and aesthetic measures, Rahm has all the tools to remain among the game’s elite for years to come.
With a second son expected this summer, the Rahm family can be expected to enjoy many more greenside victory celebrations.
“He’s a family guy,” said Hayes. “He’s a wonderful husband and dad. I think it’s so cool that he’s getting this experience at this point in his career. For him to be in the prime of his career and continue to be in his prime, and to be able to share that with his wife and kids, is going to be really cool.”
Upon walking off the green Sunday at Vidanta Vallarta, one of Rahm’s first thoughts was that he had again qualified for the Sentry Tournament of Champions this coming January. He grew enthused at the prospect of flying to Hawaii a week early and spending some vacation time with his growing family before the 2023 golf year commences.
Inside the ropes, Rahm doesn’t waver from the desire to extract as much from his game as he possibly can. Even in his winner’s press conference, he thought back to an 11-foot birdie try on the par-3 17th hole Sunday. He thought it was center-cut the entire way, but it turned at the final moment and missed on the left edge.
After a hard-fought winning par on the par-5 18th – he missed the fairway left and had to lay up with the ball sitting down and below his feet – he was able to exhale and also reflect on the lessons he hopes to impart on his kids.
“Be more like mom,” he laughed. “That’s the general norm. I know I have my good qualities, but she’s a heck of a person. For my part, to never give up, always be positive. I think that’s one of my traits.
“Yes, I might seem frustrated sometimes. Yes, I might let some anger out and I might say some things, but I’m always hopeful and I’m always positive. That was key today. I never lost my approach and my confidence, and that’s why I got it done.”
And when Kepa watches back tape of the first time he was able to move around a trophy presentation on his own, he’ll be able to learn from that perspective as well.