Rahm admits he needs to work on anger management

By Ryan LavnerJune 17, 2017, 2:04 am

ERIN, Wis. – The past month has served as a rude reminder that Jon Rahm’s pro career won’t always go so perfectly.

Prior to this rough patch, many wondered if the young Spanish star would ever encounter adversity. In the past 52 weeks, he has enjoyed a meteoric rise, from the low amateur at the U.S. Open to the 10th-ranked player in the world. He has won once, contended for titles as often as any player in the world and become one of the biggest challengers to Dustin Johnson’s throne.

But recently the 22-year-old has also begun to show his age.

It started with a meltdown at The Players, where he shot 82 and missed the secondary cut. It continued at the Memorial, where his emotional outbursts drew attention on social media. And it came to a head at this week’s U.S. Open, where Rahm went 76-73 and joined several big names in missing the cut. Even worse, on the back nine Friday, he dropped F-bombs, slammed clubs and whacked a tee sign – all on camera.

Neither of Rahm’s fellow playing competitors said the flare-ups were distracting.

“I understand it,” Rickie Fowler said. “It’s tough out there.”

Added Hideki Matsuyama: “I knew he’s an emotional player, and sometimes he wears it on his sleeve. I was not expecting it, but it wasn’t a problem at all.”

It might be if it continues.

Most observers are seeing Rahm this year for the first time, but this is the way he has always played and behaved on the course. He has always been quick-tempered. At Arizona State, the coaches would let Rahm blow off steam, knowing that he needed to let the frustration out and then he’d quickly bounce back. The only difference now: As one of the game’s rising stars, he is on TV.

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“College it was even worse, but there was nobody looking,” Rahm said as he walked to the player parking lot late Friday afternoon. “I’ve done many worse things many times on the course, but the thing is there were no cameras.”

And now that there are extra eyeballs on him, Rahm is conflicted, because the same fire that has brought all this negative attention is also what has made him great.

Tomahawking a club into the turf might cause fans to snicker (and the PGA Tour to issue a fine), but it helps him move on. After his outburst on the 14th hole Friday, he birdied the next hole, nearly made another on 16, and then smoked a 331-yard drive down the center on 17.

“I know golfers are supposed to internalize everything, and I wish I could,” he said. “Every time I try to keep it to myself, just imagine a Coca-Cola bottle. If you shake it once, then it comes down. But once you open it, it’s a complete mess, and that’s what happens if I try to keep it down. If I try to keep it down, at some point, I’m going to miss a shot that’s not that bad and I’m going to lose it. Sometimes I need to get mad.”

Rahm admits that he needs to work on his anger management. He doesn’t want to be a distraction to the other players in his group. He doesn’t want to be a poor role model for kids.

He knows there must be some healthy release, some way to channel his energy.

At this point, he’s just not sure how.

“I’ve always been criticized for it,” he said. “I don’t know what to say. I feel bad when I react sometimes, but it’s something I can’t control.

“At the end of the day, I need to look toward my golf game, and sometimes it does help. … I need to find a different way to do it, but even if I work on it, sometimes it just overpowers me.”

His frustration was apparent all week at Erin Hills, where his normally lethal driver betrayed him. At a course that should have perfectly suited his power game, Rahm spent much of the week hacking out of the fescue, only fueling his anger.

“You need to get mad, but maybe not externalize it as much,” he said. “It’s just hard when I feel like I’m hitting good shots and I’m trying as hard as I can and things aren’t happening. It’s unlike me. I can’t remember the last time I played my last four competitive rounds that many over par.”

It’s a shame that this issue seems destined to follow Rahm as he navigates the early stages of his pro career. Though he can be intense and aggressive when things are going poorly, off the course he remains accommodating and approachable and affable – everything you’d hope for in a generational talent.

“Having an eye on you, I sometimes get mad, and then I feel bad for getting mad, and then it makes me feel worse,” he said. “It’s a very downward spiral that I go into a negative place.”

His reputation might depend on whether he can escape it.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.