Jon Rahm is flirting with an early lead at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio, and that's significant for a number of reasons. The first is that it would be the biggest win of his mega-impressive career to date. The second is that he could become the 24th No. 1 player in the world in golf history.
Only nine Europeans have ever ascended to No. 1, but with a win at Muirfield Village coupled with Rory McIlroy finishing worse than tied for second, Rahm -- who is currently No. 2 in the world -- would overtake his former Ryder Cup teammate for the top spot.
After shooting a 3-under 69 on Thursday at a tough Muirfield Village, Rahm torched the place on Friday with a 5-under 67. In his only other appearance at this event back in 2017, Rahm missed the cut. He didn't fare much better for the first three days of last week's Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village and even shot 75 on Saturday. But it seemed as if he found something on Sunday with a 64, which has translated into momentum this week at a big-time event.
Earlier in the year -- as has often been the case -- Rahm was asked about ascending to No. 1 in the world. He had a smoking end to 2019 on the European Tour and won the Race to Dubai last fall, which bumped him to No. 3 in the world.
"I'm hoping for the rest of the year it's going to be like that where at some point I'm going to win or have a good performance and get to No. 1 in the world," Rahm said. "But the main goal is to win championships, win tournaments, and play my best every week I can. Those rankings are basically a consequence of what I do on the golf course, so I've got to take care of business first."
He foreshadowed this nicely because here we are five months later where he has a chance to win to get to No. 1 in the world and join Spaniard Seve Ballesteros as the only men from Spain to reach world No. 1. He's now two rounds away and closer than he's ever been to the top of the mountain.