Jon Rahm is overjoyed to be back on the PGA Tour after winning the Mexico Open on Sunday, ending a drought that dated back to his victory at the US Open last June.
He just hopes he’s silenced some of the naysayers.
“I got a bit tired of answering questions about stats and putting and short game and this and that,” said Rahm, who, to be fair, had career-low scores in strokes gained putting (132nd on Tour) and around the green (173rd), numbers that had led to some tense interview confrontations in recent months.
“It’s just the nature of the game.” I thought I was getting better and seeing results, and this week has confirmed it.”
During last week’s member-guest at his home club, Silverleaf Country Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, Rahm put on “totally baked” greens in preparation for this week’s competition at Vidanta. He subsequently went on to win by one stroke over Tony Finau, Kurt Kitayama, and Brandon Wu, while finishing 18th overall with little over 3 12 strokes gained with the putter. He was 22nd around the greens and, predictably, second in that category for the week as the Tour’s leader in strokes gained: off-the-tee.
Rahm attributes his return to the winner’s circle to his Sunday round with Tiger Woods at Augusta National in his previous start. Rahm, who had nine top-10 finishes since his major debut at Torrey Pines, finished 27th at the Masters, but he took heart from that round.
“My approach was a little bit technical,” Rahm said. “I’m a feel player, so on Sunday I told myself to just go out there and smash the golf ball, make strokes, watch the ball flight, and execute, and I shot a 3 under par on a challenging day without having my best stuff.” So, this week, I did the same thing, with minimum technical ideas and just visualizing the ball flight of the stroke and returning to my true self, and I noticed a significant improvement.”
In terms of ball striking, Rahm was unstoppable this week, particularly on strokes into the wind. On Sunday, he stuffed one such shot, his tee ball at the par-3 17th hole, before narrowly missing an 11-footer for birdie that would have eased the pressure on his closing hole.
“I thought the putt was dead center of the hole,” Rahm recalled, “but it just snapped left at the end.”
On the greens, Rahm actually dropped a half-shot to the field on Sunday, and he only made putts of roughly 50 feet on each weekend day after putting almost 200 feet in the previous two rounds.
Rahm stated, “I had my opportunities, I had my putts, and I just didn’t make them.”
But he was buoyed by his whole performance, notably two clutch putts at Nos. 14 and 15, the first for birdie from 11 feet to reclaim the solitary lead for the final time, and the second from 6 feet to keep it.
“That [putt on 14] was one of the better putts I’ve ever seen go in, and it was a great visual,” Rahm said. “Making a par putt on 15 was also huge because if I had given back that stroke after that tee shot, it would have been a huge loss.”
Instead, it was a resounding victory.
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