From Masters to Masters, life is different for Jon Rahm. Last year he landed at Augusta a few days after becoming a father, he barely practiced and still finished fifth, again brushing his fingers against the green jacket. Little Kepa has just turned a year old, and soon he will be a big brother, and Father Rahm returns to Augusta in search of glory again, his second great, the sequel in a historical series that claims him: Save ( 1980 and 83 ), Olazabal (94 and 99), Sergio García (2017) … Him?
The history of Spanish golf is written in The Masters, and Rahm knows it very well, an encyclopedia of his game. “I play for pride, for inheritance, not for money,” he says. And he’s so special, a talent from Barrica polished off in Bloom and ending up in the United States, the only Spaniard to win the US Open, and dreams of the British Open. And yet it is on the canvas of Augusta where he painted best. The Basque was ranked 27th in Sergio’s debut in 2017, and has since hit always high: fourth, ninth, seventh and fifth, a unique record on the circuit in that period. Rahm has not achieved such great consistency in the top 10 at the PGA Championship, fourth and eighth in the top 10, third and first at the US Open and third at the British Open. Augusta is also the only Grand Slam event where the cut has never been missed.
“I’ve played well here, I know I can do it. Hopefully this time I will be able to get into the second nine holes on Sunday with winning options”, Rahm explained this Tuesday at Augusta, where the bookies crowned him as the favourite. “I don’t care,” responds the number two in the world, a throne she recently handed over to American Scottie Scheffler after 43 weeks (36 in a row) of summits. That low step and the rumble of thunder all around Tiger eases the external pressure on Rahm, but the same demands are on his mind. “None of this takes the pressure off me. Everyone puts this pressure on themselves. Being a betting favorite doesn’t matter to me. I like to think that I am the favorite in my mind. And losing number one doesn’t give me relief. Yes, I have arrived with a different feeling than last year… Life changes when you are responsible for someone. What I thought is no longer important. After playing I don’t want to go to any restaurant. I want to go home to sleep because you know baby can wake up at any moment. Kepa has given me more than I have given him. The love I feel with them is unparalleled. When I get home, I’m dad, his AITA, All this matters to me. It makes me happy, calms me down. Then in the field I am a competitor”.
At the Masters, Rahm tries to rediscover himself, remembering the winner of last year’s US Open, his last title, refining the small game. Augusta pulled out the best version of herself, and at age 27 she freed herself, yes, from the label of winning a big no. “As if it were easy! When I won the US Open the burden was taken off my shoulders, knowing I was no longer going to be on the top list without a big deal. It was more relief than joy, as if he were exhausted. I didn’t have to hear now when are you gonna win big? Everyone was celebrating and I was sitting on the chair thinking, ‘Okay, that’s it.
TV: Movistar Golf. Thursday and Friday, from 18.30 to 1.30. Saturday, 6:00 pm to 1:00 pm. Sunday, from 18.00 to 0.30.