REIGN OF SPAIN AGAIN AS RAHM BREAKS RECORD
JON RAHM’S dearest wish for the final round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open was to add his own chapter to the rich history of Spanish success in the event. The remarkable 22-yearold did that all right, with a spectacular spree including two eagles that saw him demolish the tournament’s scoring record. Sergio Garcia’s first victory on the European Tour was in this event in 1999 and now Rahm has replicated the feat in only his second event on the circuit. The other Spaniards to triumph in Ireland were Jose Maria Olazabal and three-time champion Seve Ballesteros. ‘It feels slightly surreal right now to join my three heroes on this trophy but also such an honour,’ said Rahm. His stunning 65 featured a holed seven iron from 150 yards for one eagle and a putt from 45ft to claim another. The previous record was 21 under par set by Bernhard Langer in 1994 but Rahm moved the needle three strokes with a 24-under-par total and a six-shot win. Just over a year ago, while still an amateur, Rahm was ranked 551st in the world. Now he will head to The Open at Royal Birkdale next week with only seven players ranked above him. The round was not without controversy, as Rahm was guilty of incorrectly replacing his ball on the sixth green. After marking it to the side and then moving it one putter head to get out of the way of playing partner Daniel Im’s ball, Rahm replaced it in a spot that was perhaps an inch nearer the hole, thereby turning a 15-inch gimme into a 14-inch one. In the past he would almost certainly have been penalised two strokes. Now, in the more relaxed climate following April’s Lexi Thompson controversy (she was penalised a grotesque four shots for a similar infringement) Rahm was deemed to have shown reasonable judgement and no penalty was applied. Rahm finished off with an exquisite chip at the 18th that was positively Seve-esque and led to an enormous roar from another bumper, 20,000-plus crowd. British players were bathed in smiles as well. Fourteen months after finishing fourth in this event, England’s Matt Southgate closed with a 66 to finish joint runnerup with Scot Richie Ramsay, who earned himself a spot at The Open next week with a wonderful closing 65. Furthermore, alongside Justin Rose in a tie for fourth was Edinburgh’s David Drysdale, who finished with seven straight birdies for a course record 63 that also came with the bonus of an Open place.
Rising star: Rahm