Monday, June 5, 2023

Rahm chases another pinnacle for Spanish golf at the PGA Championship

The 28-year-old Rahm faces the major challenge of his career with four titles so far this year, including winning his coveted first Augusta Green Jacket in April.

The star from Barrica (Basque Country) thus followed in the footsteps of the other three Spanish “masters” – Severiano Ballesteros, José María Olazábal and Sergio García – but since 2021 he is already the only player from his country to win the US Open And now he wants to be at the PGA Championship, which gets underway on Thursday in Rochester (New York State).

Rahm said on Tuesday, “I have confidence. I feel good.” “It’s been a great year, I just look forward to adding more and continuing to ride that wave.”

This season, the Spaniard has already amassed a record $14.5 million in prize money from the PGA circuit, surpassing the $14 million raised by world number two American Scotty Scheffler in 2022.

If he is able to pay off his debt to Spanish golf with the PGA Championship, Rahm will have only one title left to complete the Grand Slam, the British Open.

He said, “Winning a Grand Slam would be absolutely incredible, but without sounding too arrogant or cocky, I prefer to focus more on the number of ‘majors’ that are won than on achieving them all.”

In the past 70 years, only five players have won the first two Grand Slam trophies in a season, the latest being Jordan Spieth in 2015.

Three years later, Brooks Koepka was the last golfer to end the season with two major wins.

Rahm acknowledged, “It’s not often that a player wins more than one major in a year, so it would be amazing if I could add my name to that list.”

The Spaniard will begin at 08:33 local time (12:33 GMT) on Thursday at the Oak Hill Country Club course, forming a group with Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick and Australian Cameron Smith.

He will face a whole collection of formidable rivals who want to take him down from the cloud.

Besides Scheffler, the 2022 Masters champion, the other contenders for victory will be Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Americans Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas, all of whom have PGA Championship trophies in their cabinets.

Thomas will defend the title he won last year in a dramatic final round with Chile’s Mito Pereira one step away from becoming the first Latin American champion.

Pereira, competing in just his second major tournament, came into the final hole of the PGA Championship as a surprise leader but caved under the pressure and made a double bogey that sent him off a cliff into the final third.

LIV Golf wants its first ‘Major’

On Thursday, Pereira will be one of 18 members of LIV Golf, the Saudi-funded circuit, playing at Oak Hill.

Among them are other Latin American golfers, such as his compatriot Joaquin Niemann or Mexican Abraham Ensor, and a total of seven Grand Slam champions, such as Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson is back with a year left to defend the epic title he achieved in 2021 when he became the oldest Grand Slam champion at age 50.

So far, none of the many golfers who left the PGA Tour last year to join LIV golf have managed to win a ‘major’.

That scenario, feared by the PGA, which has banned all players recruited by LIV Golf from its tournaments, came closer than ever to taking place at the last Masters, when three members of the Saudi circuit finished in the top six. and shared by Koepka and Mickelson. second only to Jon Rahm.

Tiger Woods will be notably absent from this edition of the PGA Championship, whose last non-American winner was Australian Jason Day in 2015.

Woods is recovering from a new operation on his right leg, severely damaged in a 2021 car crash that he suffered after leaving on the final day of the Masters.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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