A former Sun Devil is playing arguably the best golf of his career, heading into his first-ever Masters this weekend in Augusta, GA.
Jon Rahm, a 22-year-old Arizona State graduate, originally from Barrika, Spain, has finished in at least the top ten at each of his last four tournaments, including a third-place finish at the World Golf Championship in Mexico, scoring -12, and a second-place finish at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play tournament.
As a Spanish golfer, Rahm said, in a pre-Masters press conference, that many of his childhood golf idols inspired him at the Masters. He said he hopes to be able to follow in their footsteps.
“Really, for a Spaniard, it’s hard to explain all the feelings that come to mind. The year I was born (1994), Olazábal won his first Masters. Seve (Ballesteros) had already won too. It really is a place that seems to suit the Spanish game character, the Spanish way of playing.”
Rahm is playing to become the first Spaniard to conquer the tournament since José María Olazábal’s last Masters win in 1999. He said he has not talked extensively to the three-time champion yet, but plans to hit Augusta National and have a long chat with him to gather as much knowledge as possible.
“Obviously there’s not many players alive that know more about this place than he does,” Rahm said. “I know he will give me some valuable info on pretty much every single hole.”
Jon Rahm won his first tournament as a professional on Jan. 29 at the Farmer’s Insurance Open, automatically qualifying him for the Masters, in just his first year since turning pro.
Rahm’s rapid success has earned him rankings of 12th in the PGA Tour and fourth in the FedEx Cup Standings, according to PGAtour.com, and has garnered him respect from his competitors, including Ricky Fowler.
Fowler is ranked eighth in the PGA Tour, and did not win a PGA Tour Event until his third full year on tour, 2012. Despite Rahm’s relatively short career, the wins and high finishes he has put together have proven enough for Fowler to say, in a press conference, that he believes in Rahm as formidable competition.
“He’s shown that he can play and compete with the best. He’s already won. So it will just be him going out and learning this golf course for himself,” he said.
Rahm, for such a young professional, has shown veteran-level technical ability, and Fowler said that Rahm’s skills with his clubs are parallel to past winners.
“He’s got all the shots you want or need. I mean, he can move it both ways. He’s got plenty of power,” he said.
Abilities aside, the Masters is one of golf’s pinnacles, and any first-time entrant is bound to be nervous. Rahm is known on tour as an emotional player, and said he will have to keep his head in check if he wants to win, and play as if it is any other tournament.
“I want that, ‘Oh my God, I’m playing in the Masters’ moment, to be as short as possible,” he said.
Rahm would not offer any predictions in the conference, but said that, though a heavy ask, he believes he has the confidence in himself to go out and produce a solid score, and contend for a green jacket.
“I might do it; I might not but that’s how I do it. That’s what I did at Torrey Pines and that’s what I did in my first time as a pro at Congressional and that’s how I play. When I tee it up, it’s just because I want to win and I believe that I can win,” he said.
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