Source: Instagram @jonrahm
This will always be one of the most select groups in men’s professional golf. To date, only five players have completed the career Grand Slam—Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen and Gary Player. Only Nicklaus and Woods have won each of the big four on multiple occasions; both have at least three wins in each, while Hogan incredibly only played in one Open.
we have another player, Jon Rahm, who is halfway there after his win at Augusta.
Two years ago, Rahm hadn’t won any majors. Now, he has two of them, and, at
just 28, the Spaniard is maybe the new favourite to tick this off.
Brooks Koepka, who led for each of the first three rounds at the 2023 Masters, still needs the Masters and the Open to complete the set—but the good news for him is that his game is perfectly suited to both, and his body (and knees) are back in better shape.
Spieth, who bizarrely still only has one Green Jacket, is a PGA shy of the big
four and, as we often say at the end of a Masters tournament, appears to have
his juju back with the PGA coming up. Collin Morikawa is even younger than Rahm
and has two of them, while McIlroy… well, we all know what he needs, and the
year-long wait begins again for him.
Phil Mickelson, one of Rahm’s great friends, began Masters week not saying very much at the Champions Dinner before signing off with a 65 and, for a short while, threatening to land a fourth Green Jacket. The 52-year-old remains eligible for the US Open, the major he’s missing, after his spectacular win at Kiawah Island in 2021.
“I mean, it would be amazing. It would be great. Not many people have been able to do it, and to be able to finish it out and complete the Grand Slam would be absolutely amazing,” said Rahm.
entered the race when I won the US Open, but of course, you’re so far away, you
don’t want to think about it. But as players, it’s on your mind. Of course, it’s
on your mind. It’s something else that would be amazing. But it’s a long road
ahead to be able to accomplish that.”
This is what we do in professional golf, with a large slant of our thinking based on recency bias and what’s gone on in the most recent tournament. But, you’d be hard-pressed not to now single Rahm out. Among all the weather delays, fallen trees, Rory missing the cut, Tiger having to withdraw, and the incessant backdrop of LIV Golf, Augusta once again threw up a hugely impressive winner.
The Ballesteros legacy
On the 40th anniversary of Seve Ballesteros’ second Masters win and on what would have been his 66th birthday, another Spaniard, Rahm, took the spoils. There to greet him, among his huge entourage of team, family and friends, was Seve’s great friend and Ryder Cup partner, José María Olazábal.
both mentioned something about Seve, and if he had given us ten more seconds, I
think we would have both ended up crying. I like to see history repeating
itself because when Ollie won his second Masters in ’99, Sergio (Garcia) was
“It was his first start there, and my first start was the year Sergio won. I guess Spaniards just like winning on Easter Sunday and on Seve’s birthday. He said he hopes it’s the first of many more,” explained Rahm.
there was the superstar amateur, Sam Bennett; remember him? He somehow played
his way into the final threeball on the Saturday and was still planning on
playing in a 36-hole amateur event the day after Augusta. In the end, he didn’t
into Masters week, most of us merely knew his name and a bit of his back story—he
lost his Dad to Alzheimer’s in 2021, and here he was teeing it up with Rahm and
Koepka and making modest claims that he could actually win the thing. On his
left forearm were the last words that his dad was ever able to write: ‘Don’t
wait to do something – Pops’. He certainly didn’t.
The Masters might not be to everyone’s taste (see the Par 3 Contest for details), but for entertainment, it’s something else. Rahm began his week by four-putting the first green; he ended it by having to hit a provisional at the 72nd hole. In between, he was the epitome of calm—‘What is going on on the outside is not always a reflection of the inside’—and he held things together brilliantly.
was in the top four for driving accuracy and greens in regulation. He gained
more than 3.5 strokes on the field tee to green on the Sunday, his ball
striking coming through just when he needed it most.
was previously 3/3 when he led or shared the lead in a major, but Rahm matched
him every step.
“I can’t expect Brooks to play badly, so I need to bring the fight to him. The goal was to keep giving him something to look at, meaning, if I hit a good shot, just for him to see that I have a birdie chance but keep putting the ball in the fairway and keep making good swings for him to feel more of the pressure rather than me, right. Me being the one pushing.”
A big part of the jigsaw is the way that Rahm studies the game. He watches a lot of golf, he knows a lot about golf, and he’ll pick the right brains. The likes of multiple champs Mickelson and Olazábal have told him plenty about Augusta, but nine holes with Tony Finau in practice also played their part in the win.
He asked the American about when he and Francesco Molinari both hit their shots in the water at the 12th when Tiger won back in 2019.
said, ‘Yeah, it was a good shot—it was just a yard too far right and spun in
the water.’ Then he mentioned Tiger’s shot went left of the bunker to that
did just that, playing the 12th in one under for the week. One day, in the
not-too-distant future, Rahm might well join that elite club that Woods is part
The PGA Championship takes place at Oak Hill from May 18. Two down, two to go.
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