Jon Rahm is Ready to Become Golf's Next Big Star
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
JON RAHM - make a note of the name because you are going to be hearing a lot more of it in the months and years ahead. He is a 22-year-old Spaniard who was the world's top-ranked amateur for more than a year and is already rapidly climbing the world rankings in the paid ranks.
He may have slipped under the radar of many European golf fans because he spent much of his amateur career playing collegiate golf at Arizona State University, where he won 11 tournaments. He was twice given the Ben Hogan award, was the individual winner at the 2014 Eisenhower Trophy and received the Mark McCormack Medal in 2015. Rahm was also the low amateur at the 2016 US Open, where he finished in a tie for 23rd place.
After that performance he decided the time had come to turn professional. He had been exempt to play in The Open at Troon but his decision to join the paid ranks meant he had to forfeit his place. His first professional tournament was the Quicken Loans National, which was part of the Open Qualifying Series. He finished third, four strokes behind Billy Hurley, and it was good enough to get him to Troon after all, where he made the cut and finished 59th.
He then finished in a tie for second place at the Canadian Open, securing Special Temporary Member status for the remainder of the season and went on to secure enough points as a non-member to earn his PGA Tour card. That is no mean feat.
Rahm is likely to spend most of his time playing on the PGA Tour, but the European Tour's decision to relax its qualification rules means that he will only have to play in four events to secure membership of his home tour. It comes as a huge bonus for the young Spaniard, who thought he was going to have to wait before spending time in Europe.
This young man has what it takes to become a great Ryder Cup player. Right now, he is not a member of the European Tour and, like Paul Casey, is currently ineligible for the European Ryder Cup side.
“I’ve thought about the Ryder Cup a lot,” he told John Huggan in Golf Digest. “I so want to play in the matches; who doesn’t? But right now I need to establish myself on the PGA Tour. Hopefully, I will do that and make it into the top 50 in the world. Once I do that, I will be able to play in the tournaments that count towards the PGA Tour and the European Tour -- the majors and the WGCs. That is the ideal scenario.
“But unless I do something incredible soon, something that gives me a lot of stability on the PGA Tour, I won’t be joining the European Tour just yet. I don’t think I can play all the events I would need to play to be a member on both sides of the Atlantic. That is just too hard right now. I will definitely come back to play in the Spanish Open though." The change in rules means he would only have to play in three other tournaments, and you can be certain that Thomas Bjorn, the European Ryder Cup captain, will be taking Rahm to one side at the very earliest opportunity to talk him into make that commitment.
“All of which is not to say that the Ryder Cup is not on my mind. The next one is in France and that is close to home for me. I will be doing all I can to be there. So yes, I will be joining the European Tour at some stage.
“I am very much a European, and I want to play there. But I have taken a different route to professional golf in that I have gone to college in the U.S. I just need to establish myself there before I think about being a member of the European Tour. Once I have the freedom to fly back and forth a bit more it will happen. It is my dream to represent Spain in the Ryder Cup.”
He has played four times in the new 2016-17 season, making the cut each time, and already has two top-15 finishes to his name. He is currently ranked 137th in the world - if he hasn't reached the top 50 by the end of June, your correspondent will eat his golf hat. Rahm hits the ball a mile, is a wizard with a wedge in his hands and has a glorious touch on and around the greens. He is the real deal.
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