Jon Rahm is happy to be a winner again on the PGA Tour, his victory Sunday at the Mexico Open snapping a drought that had extended to last June’s U.S. Open triumph.
He just hopes he’s finally quieted some of the critics.
“I got a little tired about answering questions about stats and putting and short game and this and that,” said Rahm, who, to be fair, entered the week with career-worst marks in strokes gained putting (132nd on Tour) and around the green (173rd), numbers that had led to some testy interview exchanges over the past couple of months.
“It's just how the game is. I knew I was improving, I knew I was seeing results, and this week has proven that.”
Rahm prepared for this week’s tournament at Vidanta by putting on “completely baked” greens during last week's member-guest at his home club, Silverleaf Country Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. He then went out and led wire-to-wire for a one-shot victory over Tony Finau, Kurt Kitayama and Brandon Wu, while ranking 18th in the field with just over 3 ½ strokes gained with the putter. He was 22nd around the greens and unsurprisingly, as the Tour’s leader in strokes gained: off-the-tee, second in that category for the week.
“I played amazing, and I was in incredible control of my game,” Rahm said of his first 36 holes, which he played in 12 under. “Seemed like really nothing could go wrong.”
Rahm credits his Sunday round alongside Tiger Woods at Augusta National in his last start for getting him back in the winner’s circle. Rahm, who had posted nine top-10s since his major breakthrough at Torrey Pines, tied for 27th at the Masters, but he gleaned confidence from that particular round.
“I was a little bit technical in my approach,” Rahm said. “I'm a feel player, and that Sunday I told myself just go out there and hit the golf ball, make shots, see the ball flight and execute, and I shot a 3 under without having my best stuff on a tough day. So, I applied the same thing this week, minimal technical thoughts and just visualizing ball flight of the shot and getting back to my true self, and I truly saw the difference.”
Ball-striking wise, Rahm was locked in this week, especially on shots into the wind. He stuffed one such shot, his tee ball at the par-3 17th hole on Sunday, before barely missing the 11-footer for birdie that would’ve made his final hole less stressful.
“I thought that putt was absolute center of the hole and it just snapped left at the end,” Rahm said.
Rahm actually lost about a half-shot to the field on the greens on Sunday, and he made just over 50 feet of putts on each weekend day after totaling nearly 200 feet total the first two rounds.
“I had my chances, I had my putts, and I just didn't make them,” Rahm said.
But overall, he was encouraged by his performance, particularly two clutch putts at Nos. 14 and 15, the former for birdie from 11 feet to take the solo lead for the final time and the latter from 6 feet to maintain that advantage.
“That [putt on 14] was one good putt that I saw go in, and it was a very good visual,” Rahm said. “Then making a par putt on 15 as well was massive because if I had given that stroke back after that tee shot, that would have been a big loss.”
Instead, it was a big win.