Jon Rahm’s fight to defend his title in the Farmers Insurance Open can be divided into two very different parts. The first two rounds were more of the same since the beginning from the Spanish golfer, a solid game, clean and accurate, excellent from tee to green, and definitive with the putter. He continued to make birdies, on the attack, preying on the leaders like only he knows how to do, paving the way for a fantastic opportunity to take home the victory once again, which would have been extraordinary, but did not happen in the end.
In professional golf, there are two milestones that are extremely hard to reach. One is winning the same tournament twice, two years in a row, and the other one is winning two weeks in a row. It’s difficult because expectations are through the roof and often times this weighs heavily on the golfer mentally. Everyone reminds you that you won there last year, an accumulation of memories come pouring in, and the inevitable added pressure to have to do well almost by obligation.
At the same time, when a golfer goes into a tournament just after winning, something similar happens, with the added stress brought on by any win. Mental and physical stress, because it’s not just the pressure of playing four cut-throat rounds, but also everything that comes after winning, commitments with sponsors, press releases, photos, signatures…
It was a culmination of all these factors. Rahm went into the Farmers this week with that weight on his shoulders, one of the most difficult tournaments there are in golf, and on top of that, it was the first time he had experienced this sensation. As if that weren’t enough, he also had the opportunity to move up to Number 1 in the world. Pressure at an all-time high.
The first two rounds went as smooth as silk, but everything took an unexpected turn during the weekend. Jon didn’t play well, the wind kicked up, the course got tough and unforgiving, and things started to go downhill. He fought with blood, sweat and tears on Saturday to stay in the battle, despite the last double bogey on the 18th hole. He came out four shots away on Sunday and he went on the attack again as usual, as Jon understands the game. But things just didn’t work out. The round took a downward spiral and he ended up losing quite a bit of ground.
“It was a tough weekend. I don’t remember the last weekend I finished with +8 in my life. That’s golf. I knew it would be tough. It’s something I was not prepared for. I didn’t know it would happen so soon, but the good thing is I know what’s going to happen the rest of the year and this was a good learning experience”, he told El Correo just after finishing his round.
Rahm learns quickly and the Farmers will go down in his memory bank as another experience. And now it’s time to make a clean slate and a fresh start in the Waste Management Phoenix Open that begins this Thursday. Jon will be playing at home.