Rahm Wins Spanish Open, Heir Apparent To Seve?

Jon Rahm knocked off the fifth, and perhaps most memorable professional victory of his young career on Sunday at the Spanish Open, coming from two strokes back to win by the same margin over Irishman Paul Dunne. 

“When I made the decision to come straight from Augusta it wouldn’t be to just show up and walk around, I wanted to win this tournament,” Rahm said, according to the Associated Press, and that’s exactly what he did. 

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“This is hard to describe,” Rahm said after the win. “The feeling of pride and satisfaction is amazing. This is the hardest Sunday I have ever had to play. Everyone seemed to want me to win. I felt that. And it was hard to deal with. I tried to isolate myself, but I could feel it. So to win here is great.”

At 23-years-old, Rahm is ranked fourth in the Official World Golf Rankings, two spots below his career-high, but with each passing victory, the inevitable comparisons made between the young Spaniard and those from the rich golfing past of his nation.

Only a week removed from Sergio Garcia’s maiden major championship defense, Rahm has already been ordained as the nation’s golfing future. Garcia’s breakthrough at the Masters last year was a well-deserved monkey off of his back, but the golfing public, by and large, has already moved on to the next generation of Spanish golf despite Garica’s continued good play.

You can tally it up to the optimism of youth or society’s penchant for snap reactions to greatness without a proper barometer for past success, but Rahm is fighting expectations bigger than himself — he’s in a race against a ghost.

 

Severiano Ballesteros was a revelation, a showman, a gamesman and a Spaniard. Seve won 91 times as a professional, including 50 European Tour titles, nine PGA Tour victories, and five major championships. Ballesteros won as many major championships as Rahm has professional victories, period.

How about that for a barometer?

And let us not forget the aforementioned Garcia, he of 33 professional victories and a major; or Jose Maria Olazabal, he of 30 professional victories and two majors; or Miguel Angel Jimenez, he of 28 professional victories; or even Manuel Pinero, he of 12 professional victories.

Rahm’s first chapter of his career has put himself into the conversation, as Google would attest, but he has a long way to go to reach the levels of any of the men mentioned above.

Instead of putting shackles, expectations and expiration dates on Rahm’s career — much in the same way they’ve been unfairly placed on Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy before him — let’s enjoy his greatness in real time. Rahm’s physical abilities and talents have shown that he is a generational player already at 23, but to become an all-time great, he still has a long way to go. 

 

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