Grades: Jon Rahm eagles last hole to win Farmers Insurance Open in thrilling finish
This amazing eagle by Rahm won him his first PGA Tour event
Jon Rahm. Get to know the name. Roll it around on your tongue a little bit. See how it sounds out loud. You'll be hearing it for the foreseeable future.
You might not know it yet, but Rahm is a star in the making (if he's not already there). He made an eagle on the final hole at the Farmers Insurance Open on Sunday to touch off a back-nine 30 and grab his first PGA Tour victory. At 13 under, Rahm beat Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan by three each.
The 22-year-old Spaniard is the youngest golfer to ever win this event.
The eagle on No. 18 was his second on the back nine (he also eagled No. 13) and gave him a closing round of 65. Not since 1999 has a winner at this tournament made eagle at the last hole. That man's name? Tiger Woods. Rahm's eagle was as improbable as it was incredible, and there is no way a putt from where Rahm was standing should have gone in. But it did.
"The difference is the inexperience," Rahm said of coming up close in multiple events last year and winning this one. "I was doing everything that I needed [last year], but the putts were not falling. Today was completely different. After that second shot on No. 13, I was able to execute so good and think clearly all the time. The putt was a little bit of lagging it up there and just hoping it kept the line."
There is no way to make a putt like that which dances back and forth so many times. You just have to hit the right speed and pray you have an easy birdie putt to get to 12 under. The next putt never came.
"I can't explain what went through my mind," Rahm added. "I saw the replay, and I don't even remember what I did. I'm so blessed to have a chance to win."
Rahm turned pro last summer after a sterling amateur career at Arizona State where he became the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world under the tutelage of Phil Mickeslon's brother Tim. Phil said on Sunday that Rahm is not a future star because, well, he's already one.
Just spoke with Phil Mickelson about Jon Rahm. Doesn't think he can be one of the world's best players. Thinks he already is.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelESPN) January 29, 2017
The Spaniard nearly won the Quicken Loans National and Canadian Open shortly after trading his backpack for a tour bag last year. He finished T5 at the 2015 Phoenix Open as a then-amateur still in school at Arizona State. He wore an ASU jersey to play the wild 16th hole. He has a sense of the moment. That was evident on Sunday as he played his 72nd hole of the week.
Rahm was one clear of the field before murdering his drive on the par-5 18th knowing he would need a birdie or better to post a score and feel good about his chances. He followed that with an adrenaline-infused second shot from 240 yards just over the back of the green before holing what could be the putt of the year (and will definitely be the putt of his year).
Shot 1: Perfect (early tee pick up)— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 29, 2017
Shot 2: Perfect (club twirl)
Shot 3: Perfect (in the hole)
What nerves? pic.twitter.com/X9lj4cbFRh
He is now the first golfer to earn his first victory at the Farmers Insurance Open in nearly three decades on Sunday. With the 30 he shot on the back nine, he earned the hell out of it.
"[The win] does a lot," said Rahm. "Most likely going to the FedEx Cup. The Players Championship. The Majors. The bonus of the majors. It's amazing. We only knew what was going to happen up until L.A. Probably going to have to make some changes in the schedule."
I'm sure those are plans he'll be happy to cancel. Grade: A+
Farmers Insurance Open grades
Tiger Woods (MC): I expected Woods to perform slightly better than he did with his 76-72 finish that saw him miss the weekend by four strokes. However, something within 3-4 strokes of the cut line either way was probably what his floor and ceiling were this week. Woods said it best on Friday.
"Playing tournament golf is a little bit different than playing with your buddies with a cart," said Woods. "I need to get more rounds under my belt. More playing time. That's what I'm trying to do."
Mission accomplished. For now. After a 17-month absence from the PGA Tour, Woods is being graded on a five-week curve. We will re-visit after he plays Dubai, the Genesis Open and Honda Classic over the next four weeks. Grade: I
Phil Mickelson (T14): I could not be more impressed with the way Mickelson has played in his first two outings after two offseason sports hernia surgeries. Lefty lost a chance at winning this tournament in the first two days when he could only muster a 1-under score, but he was his usual thrilling self on the weekend
Mickelson actually got it to 7 under with five holes left, but a bogey-bogey-par-birdie-birdie finish left him with no chance. Still, it was a successful week for Lefty near his hometown.
I've re-adjusted what my expectations are for him in 2017 after two top-notch finishes at the CareerBuilder Challenge and Farmers Insurance Open. Grade: A-
Charles Howell III (T2): Howell finished runner up for the third time at this event. He went 69-68 on the weekend and was only undone by a 74 on Friday. Howell has finished in the top three an astounding 26 times in 482 career events, just two of them wins. Still, he's inching closer to getting back into the Masters with a slick west coast start (T8, T12, T2). Grade: A
Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler (MC): People focused on Tiger Woods on the first two days, which was beneficial for these three who should not be missing cuts like this one. Combined, their OWGR rank is 18. They missed the cut by a combined eight strokes. All had different issues, of course, but the thread running through it all is that none of the three putted very well at all. Only Johnson had a positive strokes gained putting number (barely), and Day was about as bad as I've seen him with the flat stick (nearly -4 strokes gained on Thursday!)
There are no long-term worries for any of them, but for this week in what felt like the first really big event of 2017, they all get failing marks. Grade: F
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