Jon Rahm following in the footsteps of Spanish giants
T-Bone steaks one of the secrets in winning title also held by Garcia, Seve and Olazabal
Jon Rahm celebrates with the trophy after his victory at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Photo: Matt Mackey/Inpho
In this land of mythical giants, Jon Rahm strode the fairways like a true-to-life golfing galactico.
The strapping Spaniard – all 6’ 2” and 220lbs of him – had sampled cuts of rare T-Bone steaks and racks of lamb in enjoying the culinary experiences of the Causeway Coast throughout the week; and, when it came to the real purpose of being here, he left no rations for anyone else as he hit the €1 million jackpot in claiming the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open title at Portstewart.
No matter what obstacle was put in his way, whether it was a misty rain which soaked through to the pores, or a brief threat of a penalty for a marking misdemeanour that was ultimately deemed unworthy of such punishment, the man known as “Ramhbo” demonstrated a winner’s predatory instinct.
Destined to be the next golfing superstar, if not already in that bracket, 22-year-old Rahm – little more than a year in the professional ranks – joined other legendary Spanish golfers as winners of the Irish Open: Seve Ballesteros (1983, 1985 and 1986), Jose Maria Olazabal (1990) and Sergio Garcia (1999). The addition of his name will surely only enhance the tournament’s prestige.
Only Rahm did it in fewer strokes than anyone in the tournament’s rich history. Not even the rain which leaked from the grey clouds incessantly through the afternoon could dampen his parade, as he used just 65 strokes in his final round over the Strand Course to compile a 72-holes total of 264, the lowest ever taken in any Irish Open.
Rahm was head and shoulders above everyone here, physically and in his actions. He finished six strokes clear of his nearest challengers.
His only concern came when rules officials were made aware of a possible rules violation when it appeared that he had failed to correctly replace his marker on the sixth green. That discussion with referee Andy McFee took place as he walked off the 13th tee, by which time he was out of sight of everyone.
“I told him right on the spot, ‘if it’s a penalty stroke, let me know’,” recalled Rahm. But there was no penalty, as common sense prevailed in this age of examination by slow-mo video replays, and the margin of leeway applied to rules officials in determining such cases was applied.
Rahm will return to defend his title at Ballyliffin in Co Donegal next July. “Why wouldn’t I? I’m sure the next golf course is going to be just as special as this one, so I would not miss that for the world,” he said.
And Rahm – who has moved to eighth in the world rankings – has intentions to “be the best player I can be, that’s my goal in golf. Try to be the best Jon, the best golfer I can become, without knowing what the limit is. Just like today. I did not know what I could do today and I did not know what I what I did this week and surprises like this is what help a career lift and hopefully I can keep it going like that. But if I have a legacy close to Seve, even half of what Seve’s was, I think I’ll be really satisfied with my career.”
The bar has been set high. And an Irish Open win was one that too formed part of Ballesteros’s own legacy.