Second WGC of his career and second time he comes so close to winning. Jon Rahm had an exceptional week at the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship, second World Championship held in its own unique match play format.
Rahm played seven games at the Austin Country Club and he won six. He only lost in the grand finale against Dustin Johnson, Number 1 as well and, without a doubt, the most in shape golfer on the planet at the moment.
Rahm had an extraordinary performance. He made it past the group phase, winning against such established and powerful players as American golfer Kevin Chappell (3 and 2), Shane Lowry (2 and 1) and Sergio García (6 and 4). He made it to the final 16 of the tournament with an immaculate partial score of three wins in three games.
The final 16 and the quarter finals were held on Saturday. Jon played an outstanding game of golf, with no errors, borderline perfection. He went sailing through the semi finals after beating Charles Howell III (6 and 4) and then Soren Kjeldsen (7 and 5). Whirlwind. In the semi finals, on Sunday, he went head to head with Bill Haas. Another win. He beat the American golfer with 3 and 2, with an explosive finale in the round, making four birdies on the last five holes.
There was just the last stretch left, one more step. However, the most difficult one. Apart from coming face to face with the best player in the world, above him was the best golfer of the tournament. Johnson made it to the final without having trailed behind anyone the entire time in the six previous games. Powerful stuff. Jon knew he would have to put his best game forward in order to have a chance at winning.
However, things didn’t turn out as planned, especially on the first nine holes. He started off well on the first 2 holes, both with options for birdie to move up to the top, but after missing the drive on the 3rd hold, the duel was uphill from there. “Everything that could have gone bad went even worse. Those first nine holes were a disaster”, the golfer himself from Barrika acknowledged.
The playing conditions were not easy, his putt was cold and things just didn’t work out. Jon was swimming against the current. Dustin Johnson managed to move up five on the 8th hole. The finale started to take on epic dimensions.
Rahm could have opted to throw in the towel. It was an incredible tournament, he had made it to the finals and he was falling back against the Number 1. There wasn’t much he could beat himself up over. However, the word surrender doesn’t exist in Jon’s vocabulary. Johnson started off with two consecutive bogeys and dug himself into a hole.
He started to let adrenaline flow starting with the 13th hole with a sensational drive to the green. He made a birdie, another on the 15th and a third on the 16th. In the blink of an eye he had created an option to win the WGC. He was just one shot away from Dustin Johnson. He went all out on the 17th, but his shot fell slightly short and he couldn’t make the birdie. But he was still alive. He laid it all out on the table once again with a spectacular drive on the 18th hole. He was going for the eagle to win the hole…
His shot was truly outstanding, but it left him with a really difficult chip, complicated. Just as he went to hit the ball, he had the bad of luck of the noise of a door slamming right at that moment, and it slightly threw off his concentration. Minimally, but it did have an effect. He didn’t hit the ball how he wanted to and it didn’t quite drop far enough to reach the hole. He was left with an impossible putt for birdie…Even so, he made a solid putt for par which obligated Dustin Johnson to putt up until the very end.
Jon’s finale was a roller coaster ride of emotions, but yet another demonstration that he’s already one of the best golfers in the world. He made it to the finale despite the fact that he wasn’t playing his best game throughout a good part of the finals. He went for plan B, but with the strength, courage and the heart of a lion. And at least he managed to give himself the chance to come back and fight up until the very end. This week’s outcome is nothing but positive. “Of course I’m sad about not having won, but I think that it was a positive outcome overall. A lot of good things happened this week. I’m going to learn a lot and it just goes to show that this is where I belong, that I belong in these tournaments and these rounds of golf. I’m happy about how the week went, although I would have liked to play better at the end of those nine holes, obviously. I played in two world championships and I had the chance to win in both. It’s a very satisfying sensation. I don’t know how to express it in words, but I’m really content”, he assured.
Rahm is now in fourth place in the FedEXCup, second in the Race to Dubai (after just two tournaments) and fourteenth in the world ranking. Extraordinary results just nine months after going pro. His next challenge will be the Shell Houston Open. He’ll be playing in a PGA Tour tournament once again starting Thursday. And the following week will be the Masters at Augusta…Lots to do, lots to tell.