Jon Rahm sets tournament scoring record as he runs away with Irish Open
The Spaniard has his second monster win of the calendar year
Jon Rahm has one speed. The big Spaniard is like a free safety who only runs downhill. Sometimes that goes badly, but when it works, he feels indestructible. This week at the Irish Open, Rahm could not be touched. He won going away on Sunday as he shot a final round 65 for a weekly total of 24-under 264 to set the all-time Irish Open scoring record both in the aggregate and to par.
Tied for the lead coming into the day, Rahm ran through the rest of the field and beat Richie Ramsay and Matthew Southgate by six even with a bogey on the final hole. The 65 bookended his 65 from Round 1 after going 67-67 on Friday and Saturday.
On the week, Rahm had a ridiculous 23 birdies and 4 eagles including two in the final round. He went out in 31 and took a victory lap in 34 for an easy first European Tour victory.
Portstewart Golf Club never seemed tailor-made for Rahm's strengths. He's a high ball hitter who sometimes gets frustrated when things don't go his way. That's not usually a great combination for links golf.
He did it every way possible on Sunday, though. He has shown over the last year as he's risen from outside the top 250 in the world rankings to No. 8 on Monday that there is no chance he won't try. His preposterous game travels all over the globe, and he can clearly perform in any condition. From sunny San Diego in January, where he won the Farmers Insurance Open, to rainy Northern Ireland in July, he's a thoroughbred, full stop.
On Sunday it was a hole-out eagle and birdies from every space on the Northern Irish course. Rahm was consistently all over the course, but constantly saved himself with improbable birdies and pars. This is part of Rahm's genius. Whatever he loses on links courses with his high ball flight and temper, he makes up for with his wild array of impossible shots.
In the process, he broke the scoring record of 266 at the nearly-100-year-old tournament held by Ross Fisher (2010) and Colin Montgomerie (2001).
"It's such a great honor just to be now part of the history of this event," said Rahm. "Such a great country. Such a great history of the tournament. Such a great golf course. And to me such a great week. It still seems unreal. Right now, it's still kind of unbelievable."
Rahm's youthful brashness and aura of invincibility can rub the wrong way. He's been held under the microscope at recent tournaments like the Memorial and the U.S. Open where he performed badly and reacted even worse. But if anything, this week's Irish Open showed us why playing badly gets to the 22-year-old so much -- because his good is outrageously great.
Sunday's win wasn't without a bit of controversy, though. Rahm apparently mis-marked his ball on the 6th hole when he moved it to let playing partner Daniel Im putt.
Rahm was not assessed a penalty, which drew plenty of criticism.
"It really makes me feel bad that my first win on the European Tour is always going to have that little mark on it," said Rahm. "When I put it back, I thought I put the ball exactly where it was. I did tell them, "I thought it was in the same spot.'"
Rahm went on to say that he played the rest of his round as if he was going to be assessed a two-stroke penalty which might be why he punched the gas coming home and briefly touched 25 under on the week.
"I didn't know (it was over)," said Rahm, who led by six or seven for most of the back nine. "Golf is never done until the last putt is in. I didn't think it was done, but I knew it was going to be a lot easier over the last four holes."
So as the golf world turns to Royal Birkdale and The Open Championship, Rahm has to be included in the first sentence of favorites. The ceiling on his future keeps rising as he continues to reveal a deeper bag of tricks. He possesses a bravado that allows him to attempt shots he probably shouldn't, and he has the skill to pull them off. As he continues to add to his mental and physical arsenal, he'll continue to collect big boy tournaments of all manner.
"To come here to Ireland, links golf, where I kept saying I haven't played my best golf and shoot 24 under ... it's something completely unreal," said Rahm. "I can't believe it. It feels so great to be a European Tour winner."
The 22-year-old might not be able to believe what he did at Portstewart, but the rest of us can. This has been his trajectory for a long, long time. Rahm can win any event in any way. Eagle at the last or birdie landslide. The question now is how far can he go and how much will he accomplish?
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