Connor’s Corner: Jon Rahm


Hello and welcome back to Connor’s Corner, a column where I discuss a standout performance in professional sports and that player’s journey from high school to the professional level. In case you missed it, this past weekend was the 2023 Masters Tournament, which was drama-filled all weekend. After an Easter Day lunch, families across the world clambered to their TVs to witness this masterful display of golf. The masterclass was put on by none other than Jon Rahm. 

Rahm started his weekend at Augusta National Golf Club at 10:42 a.m. with a solid tee shot, leaving him 158 yards from the first green. For his second shot, the Spaniard stepped up and hit a solid shot leaving him 48 feet out for birdie — a putt that most PGA pros will sink in two strokes — however, Rahm needed four. His initial putt went past the hole, leaving him within 10 feet for a par putt. However, that one caught the edge of the cup, leaving him seven feet out. Rahm missed again, leaving him three feet out and settling for a double bogey to start the tournament. Rahm acknowledged that he had plenty of time to make it up, saying, “If you’re going to make a double or four-putt or anything, it might as well be the first hole, 71 holes to make it up.” Despite his lackluster start, Rahm followed that hole up with a birdie and finished the first round seven under — the lowest round he shot the entire tournament. 

The second round saw some drama, as play was suspended midway when a tree collapsed on the 17th tee. Despite the weather, Rahm eventually finished his round and went into the third round 10 under and in an excellent position to catch up to Brooks Koepka, who had a lead for the first three days of the tournament. Rahm had a rougher time on Saturday, shooting one over par and finding himself two strokes behind Koepka. 

The final round is where things got interesting. Koepka didn’t play like he did all week; he shot three over par in the final round, giving the Spaniard room for comfort. Rahm’s final day was nothing short of masterful and methodical. Rahm shot two under par on the back nine, and every shot was free of trouble, unlike his opponent Koepka who had three bogeys on the back nine. Because of this Rahm was able to be the last one standing and the fourth player from Spain to win the Masters. 

Prior to getting his first Green Jacket, Rahm attended Arizona State on a golf scholarship. Hailing from Barrika, Spain, Rahm is not a native English speaker. He learned most of his English at Arizona State and studied the lyrics of rappers Kendrick Lamar and Eminem. As a freshman, Rahm performed excellently, finishing second in the NCAA Championship, and the following year he was the low scorer at the World Amateur Team Championship. He was the back-to-back Spanish Stroke Play champion and won 11 college tournaments for the Sun Devils, second only to Phil Mickelson in team history. Rahm achieved No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and earned the Mark McCormack Medal as the top-ranked player. He was the first player to earn back-to-back Ben Hogan Awards as the nation’s top college golfer. His success in the PGA was quick, with a top-5 finish in the Phoenix Open, a top-10 in the Mayakoba Classic and low-amateur honors at the U.S. Open. 

There has been much speculation as to what Rahm’s Champions Dinner will look like — and the most appropriate choice of food is, perhaps, Panda Express. After all, when Rahm was a sophomore at ASU 10 years ago, he tweeted out a fortune he got that said, “Your talents will be recognized and suitably rewarded.” Rham tweeted, “I am gonna win the masters!” Logistically, this dinner could happen as Panda Express responded to this saying, “@TheMasters Champions Dinner? We’re game if you are.” Rahm has enjoyed a successful PGA career, with this year being his best to date. He’s won four tournaments this season, including the Masters. Rahm won one other major, the U.S. Open, in 2021. He has 11 career wins on the tour. 

Another interesting storyline in Rahm’s career was the emergence of a different professional golf circuit: the LIV tour. He was outspoken against LIV, and many players have been for numerous reasons. First, the competition is not near what the PGA offers; most players, including the two-time major champion, are more interested in playing for a legacy and events that have been going on for hundreds of years. Rham told the media, “I’ve always been interested in history and legacy, and right now the PGA Tour has that.” It was rumored that LIV offered Rham a figure close to $400 million to join and Tiger Woods $1 billion. Another controversy of the LIV tour is with its chairman, Mohammed bin Salman. Bin Salman has been involved in numerous human rights violations, including the killing of journalists, the jailing of women’s rights activists and their use of punishments against members of the LGBTQIA+ community, which have varied from deportation to the death penalty. The LIV, and other Saudi sports leagues, have been used as a front to “sports wash” Saudi Arabia’s reputation in other parts of the world. 

Rham etched his name into golf history forever with his win last Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. He not only took home the $3.24 million winning prize, but will join an exclusive club of legends that have shared the honor of winning the green jacket, a feat many greats have not achieved. Future PGA Hall of Famer Rory McIlroy came close but has never won at Augusta. Rham is ranked as the top golfer in the world and will continue to be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of his career, including the upcoming U.S. Open. 

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