Jon Rahm throws another temper tantrum in wake of U.S. Open

Boredom Spieth
Boredom Spieth
Boredom Spieth
Contributor

Jon Rahm is at it again with his displays of temper. Not good, to be sure, but the young Spaniard presents an extreme example of a problem in sports generally. How much bad behavior should we tolerate from the most passionate players?

First, the incident in question. Golf Central Daily grabbed this video from the Irish Open telecast. Apparently unhappy with a spike mark or imperfection in the green, Rahm assaults the offending area with his putter.

#jonrahm is a great player and a fan fave but this kind of stuff is not good.

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What do we do with a player like Jon Rahm? Where do we draw the line between an acceptable, animating level of passion and outbursts that go too far? If Jon Rahm were told, “we’re banning you from professional golf if you have another outburst,” how would it affect his play?

Certainly, the impulse is to say the competitive fire and flames of rage are one in the same. But when we think of the most competitive golfers in recent memory—Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus—neither had these Rahmian episodes.

Yes. Tiger Woods swore on the course with regularity. Yes he threw his clubs, slammed his clubs, even kicked his clubs. He never slammed his putter into the green, which creates an indentation that will adversely affect other players. And he certainly never dialed the rage up to 11 the way Jon Rahm did at the U.S. Open earlier this year.

ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg got a first-hand look at Rahm’s bad behavior.

Likewise, Neil Solomon of No Laying Up saw oubursts of his own at the Memorial.

“I noted on twitter… that I was less impressed this time around, as he got visibly frustrated at the crowd over very minor incidents. He told someone on 15 (under his breath, but audible enough to several patrons) to “Shut the f*ck up, you f*cking lard.” This was after a chip that was not to his liking, and a huge full frustration swing, clipping a bunch of grass blades that landed onto the putting surface. After a poor tee shot on 16, he slammed his iron on top of a grate, with the sound of the contact reverberating through the crowd.”

“On 17, he hit it to 5 feet, and after striking his birdie putt, someone yelled “YES SIR!” before it reached the cup. The putt lipped it out, he turned and just stared the guy down for what felt like an eternity. I’ve never even met the guy, and he’s bitching at me (towards me? it was weird, still not sure who he’s talking to) between 17 and 18 that the guy who yelled that jinxed his putt. Jinxed! Dude, you missed a five foot putt. The guy didn’t yell before you hit it, it was after.”

Any one of the incidents above would be unacceptable, but Rahm losing control for holes at a time is outrageous, and perhaps unprecedented, in professional golf. And it’s tough that this episodic madness is good for his scorecard.

It’s up to Rahm and his team to figure out the specifics, but he simply has to get his anger under control. There’s plenty of precedent in golf of players who were out of control early in their career, who learned to harness their emotions, and who ultimately played better golf. Jon Rahm must be expected to do the same.