John Rahm: Lighting a fire and breaking through the Top 10

Alexis Mansanarez

Jon Rahm, the young Spaniard who etched his name into history by winning the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open by an unprecedented score, is anything short of passionate. It’s his Spanish fire that makes watching him win just as exciting as watching him slam his putter into the green after a missed opportunity.

It was that fire that made Rahm the highlight of this year’s Irish Open. So much so that he is now No. 8 in the world rankings, and a heavy favorite for the Open Championship in two weeks. His win, however, was not without scandal, although there’s more to remember than the controversies plaguing the Tour.

He has now emerged as one of the top Spanish golfers on Tour, and for the first time in 25 years there are two Spaniards in the top eight: Rahm and Sergio Garcia. The No. 8 spot that Rahm now claims seemed far-fetched just a year ago.

In June of 2016 he was ranked 551st in the world. He managed to climb up the list at the beginning of 2017 to 137th, thanks to his win at the Farmers Insurance Open. Seven months after his first PGA Tour win at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California he is making waves once again, but this time it’s across the pond.

The Irish Open marks the first of the three most popular stops on the European Tour this year. The Scottish Open follows, and will begin Thursday, which leaves the Open as the last hoorah before players head back to the states.

A win leading up to the final major of the year will boost anyone’s confidence, and for some who have yet to qualify for the Open, it can give them a ticket to golf’s oldest championship.

For Rahm, it certainly was that.

“I’ve been saying, I haven’t played my best golf and today, for 15 holes, I played the best golf I can ever play on the golf course with the weather that we had,” Rahm said Sunday after his first European Tour win. “Obviously the bonus of holing out on four was great.

“To actually play my best golf that I can remember and shoot 24 under on this golf course and win it by six, that is not something I would have believed I was capable of. I learned a lot about myself and it’s a really, really special day.”

Rahm entered Sunday sharing the lead, but he quickly moved away from the pack and finished with a 65. His success on the course that evening brought his tournament total to 24-under par, and he joined distinguished list of Spanish greats — including Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal, and Garcia.

With just over a year of professional experience under his belt, Rahm is on his way to becoming as synonymous with Spanish golfers as the latest Masters champion.