Rahm the true can't-miss prospect of 2016

By Will GrayAugust 4, 2016, 7:55 pm

Back in April, just as we started to process the shock of Jordan Spieth's Masters collapse, the golf world fell in love with a can't-miss kid.

Bryson DeChambeau had received plenty of attention the year prior, chasing his NCAA individual title by steamrolling through the field at the U.S. Amateur. DeChambeau had remained an amateur afterward, compiling a self-described "internship" of early-season sponsor invites after his college team was barred from postseason play.

He made the most of those opportunities, finished low amateur at Augusta National and promptly tied for fourth in his first pro start, a dazzling debut at the RBC Heritage where he led the field in strokes gained tee-to-green.

Beyond the unique fashion and single-length clubs and penchant for floating golf balls in epsom salt stood a talented player, one who appeared poised to make the rare jump from amateur to Tour card with only a handful of starts at his disposal.

It was a sound theory at the time, but it also may have distracted from the fact that the true can't-miss prospect of 2016 was still just finishing up his final exams.

Jon Rahm didn't turn pro until after the U.S. Open in June. While DeChambeau has largely stalled out since Harbour Town, a malaise that includes Thursday's 2-over 72 at the Travelers Championship, Rahm is quickly making up for lost time.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

The former Arizona State standout bettered DeChambeau by seven shots in the opening round at TPC River Highlands, carding a 5-under 65 that included a 30 on the back nine and put him one shot off the early pace.

"I mean, 5 under, I would've taken it no question start of the day," Rahm said. "Overall, pretty balanced day. I will say 5 under is, even if it was a big difference between the nines, a pretty balanced score."

Rahm's talent and potential have been on display for years. When he turned pro, he was the top-ranked amateur in the world and had already cracked the top 10 at both the Waste Management Phoenix Open and OHL Classic at Mayakoba as an amateur in 2015.

But the speed with which the strapping Spaniard has adjusted to the play-for-pay scene is remarkable.

Like DeChambeau, Rahm surprised in his first professional start, a T-3 finish at the Quicken Loans National that reinstated his spot in The Open that he had earlier given up to turn pro. But unlike DeChambeau, Rahm kept the pedal to the metal from there, notably finishing T-2 two weeks ago at the RBC Canadian Open.

That finish paved the way for Rahm to potentially earn a full-fledged PGA Tour card for next season via non-member FedEx Cup points. His 382 points are equal to No. 130 Tim Wilkinson, and Rahm has three more starts left to improve his standing.

Should he crack the top 125 as a non-member, he'll pull off a late-season, college-to-card bypass of the Web.com Tour that hasn't been seen since Bud Cauley achieved the feat after leaving Alabama in 2011.

Rahm's result at Glen Abbey displayed a well-rounded skillset: first in the field in proximity to the hole, third in driving distance and fifth in putting. But his comments shortly after missing an 11-foot eagle putt on the final hole that ultimately would have forced a playoff belied a player who still seeks more.

"I played a very good two rounds, first one and (Sunday), and then the other two weren't so great, and I still had a chance to win," Rahm said. "So I'm hoping one day to be able to put four rounds together and get a win."

That opportunity could come this week in Connecticut, where he is again on the leaderboard and in position to make his ninth straight PGA Tour cut, or it may wait until next season. But it's likely to occur sooner rather than later.

Rahm's prospects are further bolstered by the faith of his former college coach, Tim Mickelson, who quit his position at Arizona State to become Rahm's full-time agent with Lagardere. It's a similar move to the one Steve Loy made back in 1992 when he quit as ASU coach to represent Tim's brother, Phil Mickelson.

"I always said that while I was in the States those four years he was pretty much my dad," Rahm said. "He was the guy I went to when I needed help and the guy I went to when I needed guidance. For years he's helped out a lot to become the player I am today."

While those parallels don't guarantee that Rahm will enjoy Mickelsonian success, they do indicate his relative promise.

DeChambeau could certainly go on to enjoy a lavish career as a pro, and he'll likely have a chance this fall at the Web.com Tour Finals to earn his card and potentially join Rahm next season on the PGA Tour.

But as this season winds down, it's becoming more and more clear that the prospect with which the golf world became infatuated in April isn't the one most equipped to make an immediate splash as a pro.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry