Jon Rahm a Masters champion that everyone saw coming
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Jon Rahm is a Masters champion, and he can tell he saw this coming based on the message in a fortune cookie from a Chinese fast-food chain nearly 10 years ago. years.
Rahm was entering his second year at Arizona State when he opened the fortune telling, “Your talents will be recognized and appropriately rewarded.” He took to Twitter to share the post with his coach, Tim Mickelson, and wrote, “I’m going to win the Masters!”
If only it were that simple. Nothing about this Masters was until the 28-year-old Spaniard placed a wedge over the 3ft bunker for a final par that gave him a four-stroke victory over Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson , the older brother of his college coach.
From the time he started his second round on Friday, Rahm never had the lead until Koepka began to lose his swing and striking touch. It took Rahm 42 holes before he regained his name, then he took control with more errors from Koepka and the brawler mentality to do whatever was necessary to win the fight.
It’s been like that since Rahm has been playing, and everyone knew it.
Phil Mickelson predicted greatness before Rahm turned professional in 2016 and said he believed Rahm was among the top 10 players in the world before the Spaniard won his first tournament. Bill Haas lost to Rahm in the Match Play semi-finals in 2017 and later said, “He’s hungry. He wants more. You can just see it in him. He has this thing in him that is going to make him a big winner here.
Rahm returned to world No. 1 with his Masters victory – in addition to his US Open title he won in Torrey Pines two years ago – although even with seven world victories the year last, it remains a close race with Scottie Scheffler.
What’s so eye-catching with Rahm is that anyone could see it coming, with or without a fortune cookie. Koepka won his first PGA Tour title at the Phoenix Open in 2015, the year Rahm tied for fifth as a freshman in college.
It took him four starts on the PGA Tour to get his card. He has won every year since his first full year as a professional, and he now has 20 wins around the world.
Not to be overlooked is a communications degree from Arizona State, which he earned in four years after arriving on campus unable to speak English.
“We put a lot of effort into trying to beat the best guys in the world. So maybe that level of intensity and that determination is what you see and that’s why I’m characterized as a fighter,” Rahm said. “I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do my best every time. So maybe that’s where it comes from.
Rahm was as entertaining at the green jacket presentation as he was on the golf course, mixing in a fun story about how this Masters started for him.
He became friends with Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz, and Rahm was in a cart from the practice field to the green before the first round when he saw Ertz text him.
“I’m going to paraphrase here. It was like, ‘This first green looks like a walk in the park’ or something right now – 10 minutes before I go on a four to start the tournament,” Rahm said. “So thank you, Zach. Please don’t ever do that again.
It wasn’t just the 40-foot four-putt double bogey (Sam Snead in 1952 is the only other player to start with a double bogey and win the Masters).
Rahm opened with a 65 to level Koepka, except the Spaniard played in the morning. When he returned to Augusta National on Friday afternoon, storms were on their way. The temperature dropped, finally in the mid 40’s. It was raining. The wind made it more miserable. The conditions were so dire that Rahm, who hit the 8-iron on a backpin on Thursday, couldn’t reach the green with a 4-iron.
It was just as bad for the six holes he played with Koepka on Saturday, and it was still frosty when they resumed the third round on Sunday morning. Rahm kept him close. This fight was as much a part of the win as his 3 under 69 on Sunday.
So when someone suggested he might be on the wrong side of the draw, Rahm smiled as he leaned into the microphone and said, “Did you say I might be on the wrong side? side of the draw? MAYBE?’”
He overcame everything thrown at him on Sunday – the deficit that reached up to four strokes at the finish of the 30-hole marathon, the bad weather, even all the Spanish coincidences that were mentioned to him – and just fought. He got into a fight. It’s his style, and while it’s not always artistic, it’s why he’s become such a prolific winner.
He was surprised when someone pointed out that he was the first European to win the Masters and the US Open. And he was asked about the Grand Slam career.
“Let’s not rush,” he said.
He’s only halfway there, now he needs a PGA Championship and a British Open. But it’s good enough that it’s not absurd, with or without a fortune cookie.
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