DUBLIN, Ohio – Sometimes a reputation is hard to break. Just ask Jon Rahm, who was known for years as a good golfer with a bad mood. But on Sunday night, Rahm became known as something different: the world's new number 1 golfer.
Rahm & # 39; s piqué on the PGA Tour were the stuff of legend when he turned pro four years ago after a decorated amateur career, with kicked and thrown bats, punched a tee marker and a bunker rake furiously one shoulder slung. And that was the scene of only one round in 2017.
Rahm apologized, although he never promised to become stoic if he failed. The anger and aversion he sometimes felt was a necessary response, he said, even a catalyst that simply needed to be channeled more productively – and less publicly. He called reining in his impulses a process.
Tantrums have been minimal lately, or reduced to brief moments of obvious annoyance, and in the past 18 months, Rahm, 25, has climbed the world rankings with 18 top-10 finishes. On Sunday, with a decisive three-time victory at the Memorial Tournament, Rahm jumped to the top spot, replacing Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy.
With his fourth PGA Tour victory, Rahm becomes the 24th player in history at number 1 and only the second Spaniard when he joins Seve Ballesteros, a boy hero of Rahm's who died in 2011
"Being part of golf history with Seve is at least incredible," said Rahm, who shot 75 on Sunday to finish nine under-par for the tournament, then said. "It's a pretty unique feeling that I will enjoy for a while."
Rahm said of his job of regulating his outbursts on the course, "I'm just trying to be like me."
Rahm endured a two-stroke penalty on the 16th hole on Sunday because he his ball moved slightly before the shot After starting the last round with four shots for Tony Finau and Ryan Palmer, Rahm had increased his lead to eight strokes, but bogies on the 10th and 14th holes and a double bogey on the 11th hole had reduced Rahm's lead over Palmer in three strokes.
Then Rahm's tee flew over the par-3 16th green and into deep rough 31 feet from the hole. Rahm opened his wedge behind the ball and Skillfully threw it on the well surface, where it rolled into the hole for a clear bird that increased its lead over Palmer to four strokes, an edge that rose to five strokes a hole later However, video reruns of Rahm holding his wedge behind his ball placed in the deep grass before his chipshot seemed to make the ball move slightly. PGA Tour officials later assessed a two-stroke penalty, turning the birdie into a bogey.
After his round, and before hearing of the two-stroke penalty, Rahm described his pierced chipshot as "the best short game shot I've ever hit." After meeting government officials, said Rahm that the video he was watching showed a slight vibration of the ball in the grass.
"It barely moves," said Rahm, adding that when he got over the ball he didn't see it. "The rules for golf are clear. I accept the fine. And it proves you have to fight to the end."
Rahm came from the last green of the Muirfield Village Golf Club and greeted by tournament presenter Jack Nicklaus, who has made it a tradition to shake hands with the Memorial winner once the game ends, Nicklaus and Rahm putting their fists instead, a gesture more meaningful than usual, because Nicklaus was in a television earlier on Sunday interview revealed that he and his wife, Barbara, tested positive for the coronavirus in March.
Nicklaus said that Barbara had been asymptomatic and that he had been briefly ill but recovered quickly. The Nicklauses are both 80 years old.
Meanwhile, Rahm was complimented by his colleagues – for his golf skills and for finding a way to control the anger that had consumed him in the past.
"Jon Rahm is a remarkable talent," said Phil Mickelson, adding that there was no weak part of Rahm & # 39; s play. & # 39; And he knows himself. He knows that sometimes he needs to express some of his anger to relax. He can't stop that. "
Mickelson added," It allows him to be at his best. That is also a great thing, identifying your own identity. He did a great job at a very young age. "
Palmer, who shot 74 on Sunday, came in second. No other golfer made a serious run in the lead in a day with tough, Open-like scoring conditions in the United States. A few days with temperatures over the years 90 dried up the already challenging greens of Muirfield Village, and swirling winds caused many approach shots in bothersome greenside bunkers.
Tiger Woods, who played in his first PGA Tour event since mid-February, concluded his last round hours before the tournament leaders were finished, Woods' chance to battle ended on Friday when his surgically repaired back was so stiff that it significantly slowed his swing and caused Woods to shoot 76.
He recovered with a round of 71 on Saturday, but collapsed on Sunday with another 76 to finish six over-par for the tournament During the event, Woods' putting was insufficient and Sunday, n he had 32 putts was his worst day of the event. But as his back didn't hinder him in the final round, Woods left Muirfield Village nonetheless encouraged by his performance after a five-month PGA Tour layoff.
"It was nice to get my feet wet and compete and play again," Woods said. "I have to work on my pits and clean that up. But as for my swing "It felt good. All in all it was a lot of positive points in my first week."
But golf enthusiasts are only allowed to see Woods on tour again as the PGA. The championship takes place from August 6-9 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Asked if he thought he would play in a tournament for the first week of August, Woods smiled and suggested he needed many more practice rounds, but not necessarily competitive ones.