Jon Rahm Has Al­ways Been Dif­fer­ent.

Golf Asia - - GOLFING PROFILE -

He was dif­fer­ent when he won the Span­ish Un­der-16 Cham­pi­onship by nine strokes when he was only 14 years old. He was dif­fer­ent a year later when he won the Un­der-21 na­tional ti­tle by five shots. He was dif­fer­ent when he ar­rived at Ari­zona State Univer­sity (ASU) on a fouryear golf schol­ar­ship barely able to speak more than a few words of English. And he was dif­fer­ent again when he started notch­ing up col­le­giate ti­tles at a rate not seen since Phil Mick­el­son passed through the very same cam­pus in the late ’80s. Rahm would even­tu­ally claim 11 NCAA in­di­vid­ual ti­tles to Phil Mick­el­son’s 16. “They call me the best right-handed player in the his­tory of the col­lege,” Rahm says, laugh­ing, as we chat in the break­fast bar at Trump Na­tional Charlotte a week af­ter the USPGA Cham­pi­onship.

To­day Jon Rahm is not just a stel­lar righthanded col­le­giate golfer, he’s the fourth-best golfer of any ori­en­ta­tion on the planet. The only ad­jec­tive that comes any­where close to ad­e­quately de­scrib­ing his tran­si­tion from low am­a­teur in the 2016 US Open, ranked 551st in the world, to fin­ish­ing 7th in the Tour Cham­pi­onship is me­te­oric.

Turn­ing pro­fes­sional im­me­di­ately af­ter the US Open at Oak­mont last year, Rahm earned his PGA Tour card in just four starts and has vir­tu­ally camped out on leader­boards ever since. Af­ter win­ning the Farm­ers In­surance Open at Tor­rey Pines in Jan­uary, sink­ing a curl­ing 60ft ea­gle putt on the 72nd hole to clinch the ti­tle, he em­barked on a blis­ter­ing stretch of golf that saw him fin­ish T5 at the AT&T Peb­ble Beach Pro-am, T3 at the Wgc-mex­ico Cham­pi­onship and run­ner-up to Dustin John­son at the WGC-DELL Tech­nolo­gies Match­play. In the fi­nal against John­son, he re­cov­ered from go­ing five-down early to take the match all the way to the fi­nal hole. But for a por­ta­ble toi­let door slam­ming shut just as Rahm was about to chip from the back of the 18th green, he may very well have be­come the quick­est player since Tiger Woods to break into the World’s Top 10 af­ter turn­ing pro­fes­sional. Ei­ther way, he’s ar­guably the most com­plete golfer to emerge on to the pro­fes­sional scene since Woods back in 1996.

“Jon doesn’t have weak­nesses,” Phil

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