Jon Rahm couldn’t believe it when he first heard about the fairytale he created by winning the 2023 Masters.
In fact, when informed in the press room after his victory at Augusta National last month that he had become the first European player to win both the Masters and the US Open, his initial reaction was, “Huh?”
As in, you must be kidding.
Once he was convinced it was true and let it sink in, he said: “I find it hard to believe. If there’s anything better than achieving something like this, it’s making history. So the fact is that you tell me that, being the first European to do so, it is difficult to explain (how I feel).”
Since the inaugural Masters was played in 1934, the European golfer with the most career major championship wins is Englishman Nick Faldo with six (three Masters, three British Opens, never the US Open or PGA Championship). Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is next with four, but has never won the Masters.
And then you have a list of European heavyweights like Rahm’s Spanish compatriots Seve Ballesteros, Sergio Garcia and Jose-Maria Olazabal, German Bernhard Langer and Englishmen Tony Jacklin and Justin Rose, who have either the Masters or the US Open, but not both.
Yes, Rahm is the first, although if you’ve watched him play since his PGA Tour debut in 2016, you shouldn’t be surprised that he’s making history.
“I don’t know what to tell you. It’s a good lead pair,” said Rahm. “Of all the achievements and the many great players that have come before me, to be the first to do something like this is a very overwhelming feeling.”
April 9, 2023; Augusta, Georgia, United States; Jon Rahm reacts on the 18th green after winning the Masters golf tournament. Mandatory credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Network
Obviously, if Rahm were to win the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club, he would be the first European to pull off that trio of major victories, and then the conversation would largely shift to what has dogged McIlroy. and American Jordan Spieth for several years.
Only five players in history have won all four major championships, also known as the career grand slam, in their careers. They are the Americans Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods and the South African Gary Player.
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McIlroy won the 2011 US Open, 2012 PGA Championship and 2014 British Open (he also won the 2014 PGA), so at the incredibly young age of 25 he was just one win away from a career Grand Slam Masters. He has proved rather elusive and when he missed the cut at Augusta in April, it was his ninth chance to join that exclusive club.
Spieth won the Masters and the US Open in 2015, and the British in 2017 when he was only 24, so when he arrives at Oak Hill he will be seeking to complete the career slam for the seventh time he has won the PGA Tour. Championship of.
Rahm is only halfway to his career slam, but when the 28-year-old targets the East Course, he will do so as the favorite on the course, perhaps even the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Rankings (date pending) AT&T Scotty Scheffler’s result over Byron Nelson), and as a 21-time pro winner: 11 on the PGA Tour, tying him with Garcia for the most by a Spanish-born player, and 10 on the European Tour.
His four PGA wins came in 2023, when he won the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua (Hawaii) Golf Club and The American Express at PGA West in Laquinta, California, in January and the Genesis Invitational at Riviera outside Los Angeles in February. Victory of your master.
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There was also about a fifth. In late April, trying to defend his 2022 victory at the Mexican Open, Rahm shot 21-under 21, including a 9-under third-round 61, but finished second to Tony Finau . He’s doing quite well, and Finau knew that being alive was a great achievement for him.
Finau said, “Whenever you get a chance to fight a guy like Jon Rahm, who is in that shape and emerge victorious, I love it.” “Rhambo is a good friend of mine, we train a lot together, so for me as a training partner Rahmbo has only made me better. And I hope he can say the same.”
Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm during day one of the Aberdeen Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 8, 2021 in North Berwick, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnekle / Getty Images)
Max Homma, who finished second to Rahm at Riviera and will enter Oak Hill ranked seventh in the world and looking for his first major championship, recently referred to the Avengers Marvel universe when asked if Rahm would inspire him. Whom does it remind?
“Yeah, it’s probably Thanos,” said Homma. “He has a lot of stones in his toolbox. He’s a tremendous golfer. He has zero weaknesses.”
Rahm isn’t destroying the imaginary population of the world, but he has destroyed a golf course or two or more since joining the Tour after a stellar amateur and college career at Arizona State.
He won 11 tournaments as a Sun Devil, the second most in school history behind the 16 won by Phil Mickelson, and is the only two-time winner of the Ben Hogan Award, given to the nation’s best college golfer since 1990. No fan in history has held the World No. 1 spot for more than 60 weeks since Rahm between 2015 and 2016.
After playing as an amateur at the 2016 US Open and finishing tied for 23rd, he turned professional and enjoyed his first major moment at Torrey Pines in January 2017 when he launched a 60-foot eagle putt on the 72nd hole. Insurance Open, his first professional win. It has been in ascension mode ever since.
Jon Rahm celebrates making a birdie putt on the 18th green during the final round of the 2021 US Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course) on June 20, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Torrey Pines was also the site of his first major championship win, the 2021 US Open. He did not lead until he birdied the 71st hole to get revenge on Louis Oosthuizen, then birdied an 18-foot last to win the tournament. It was the first time a player birdied the last two holes to win the Open since Tom Watson caught and passed Nicklaus at Pebble Beach in 1982.
Rahm has yet to play a competitive round at Oak Hill, and while he is a good driver of the ball, he occasionally hits it offline and does so more often on the East Course, where it is expected to be thick. , it will be problematic.
Still, his iron play and ability to go up and down should be more than enough to keep Rahm in contention on Sunday afternoon, and maybe even start a conversation about whether he, Spieth, or McIlroy will be next in line. Will be in of his career.