Is it possible to “quietly” finish solo fourth at The Masters?
Jon Rahm did last week at Augusta National.
Lost in the head-shaking of the Patrick Reed victory, the Sunday charge by Jordan Spieth and the oh-so-close runner-up finish from Rickie Fowler, there wasn’t much afterthought for Rahm, the world’s No. 4 who just might be on the verge of getting the hang of things at these major championships.
Rahm finished 11-under and that was after opening with a cut-threatening 75. He backed it up with a 68, came to life on Saturday with a 65 in the easier conditions then finished with 69.
What he said afterward is worth looking back on.
“This is the first time I didn’t panic, which is one thing I really want to learn about myself. It’s one thing to win a PGA Tour event but a major is very different,” Rahm told everyone. “I didn’t panic at all. I felt really comfortable. I loved the situation. I loved that hunt. Hopefully next time I go into the back nine at a major, I’m the one in the lead and get to experience that. But hopefully I have proven to myself that I learn fast and I keep learning and learning.”
Keep in mind, this was only Rahm’s second Masters. He finished tied for 27th last year. Overall, it was just his seventh appearance in a major championship.
“I have learned from last year’s mistakes and I always try to learn from my mistakes,” Rahm continued. “So hopefully next year I’ll have a great showing here (Augusta National) and I have another chance to win a major this year.
Rahm’s next chance, like everyone else’s will come in two months at Shinnecock Hills and the U.S. Open.
In the meantime, Rahm hopped a trans-Atlantic flight this week and he’s back in his homeland playing in the Open de Espana, in the city of Madrid at the Centro National de Golf, a club and course he knows quite well.
The golf fans around Madrid were pretty fired up to have the world’s No. 4 on site this week and they had a big turnout watching him in the featured group on Thursday. Rahm was in there with “Beef” as in the popular Andrew Johnson and another world-class Spaniard — Rafa Cabrera Bello.
Rahm got right to work in the first round. Showing no effects of a long jet flight, he came up with an eagle, four birdies and a single bogey for a five-under par 67 in the cold, wet conditions that had the galleries bundled up and the players in their best outerwear.
Didn’t phase Rahm. He was just a shot behind first-round leader Paul Dunne of Ireland.
“It was good,” he said. “To be honest, I played a lot better than I expected, especially off the tee. My driver was really good today – the driver alone set up two birdies on 13 and on seven.
“Things like that are obviously a bonus. Too bad that I couldn’t make a couple of putts but I guess it’s happening to everyone, the greens are not easy to read. Still, five under par is fine and hopefully I can keep playing the same way to the green and make some putts for the rest of the week.
“They did a fantastic job drying the course. On the first hole especially after yesterday I was expecting the ball to land and stop but it took a big bounce. It was amazing to be able to dry up the course the way they did, that’s why the scores are not as low as we expected. So all credit to maintenance, it was amazing to see how good a job they’ve done.”
Rahm’s score was the best in that feature group. “Beef” was two back of him with 68 and Cabrera Bello will try and rebound in the second round after a disappointing 73.
As for Rahm, he’s right there in position to win a third European Tour title.
At age 23, he in that No. 4 spot, he’s the best player in the world who hasn’t won a major.