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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Jon Rahm forgot about the Masters Champions Dinner, which he needed to host Tuesday night.

That's no exaggeration. 

Rahm literally forgot about the festivities and scheduled a practice round for late in the day on Tuesday at a time that would have spilled into the dinner and caused him to show up late to his own party.

"[I'm] so used to not having anything to do on Tuesdays that I scheduled my practice round a little too late and had to start backtracking to a few people," he said prior to the event.

Given the menu, it seems certain that everyone else invited would be on time. Rahm served a Spanish feast that included acorn-fed Iberian ham cured pork loin, Idiázabal cheese, Spanish omelette, spicy Basque chorizo, Mama Rahm's classic lentil stew, Basque crab salad, Basque ribeye and a puff pastry cake.

As Jordan Spieth once voiced, they may have needed to roll a few people out of there.

Defending a major championship is one of the most difficult tasks to attempt in golf. When you consider how many circumstances have to fall your way, how many breaks you need to get and how easily it could all go wayward, going back to back at a major -- or nearly winning three in a row like Brooks Koepka when he made a run in 2019 at the U.S. Open -- feels impossible.

Rahm will experience that for the first time this year at the Masters. He defended at the 2022 U.S. Open at Brookline, which Matt Fitzpatrick went onto win, but rolling in as the reigning champion at a U.S. Open and rolling in as the reigning champion at a Masters are two different things. 

"It's so hard to put that experience into words," Rahm said. "I had heard from a few other players, a few Masters champions and a few that have won other majors rather than the Masters, that they said there's something different, something special when you win one. I can confirm it's absolutely true. That the jump from no majors to U.S. Open was smaller from than what it was from the U.S. Open to the Masters. It is the biggest tournament in the world, with no offense to anything else, but it's probably the most followed one by people that don't even play golf."

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Rahm insisted Tuesday that all of the pressure that comes with being a Masters champion -- a pressure that Rahm may be feeling even more of because of his recent jump to LIV Golf -- is not affecting his preparation. But it's difficult to imagine that Rahm is as locked in as he's been in previous years at this tournament. How could one blame him?

"[The Champion's Dinner speech] has definitely been rent-free in my head," he said on a media conference call a few weeks ago. "I usually have no issues public speaking. No problem. I'll get up there and talk about anything. Just the image of standing up and having everybody in that room look at me and having to speak to all these great champions, it's quite daunting. I've never been one to prepare, so I'm going to go with whatever comes to mind at the moment. That's all I can say.

"I think I'm just going to speak from the heart, and that's usually what delivers the better speech. It's definitely not going to be prepared. I don't know exactly what I'm going to say, but hopefully one or two glasses of wine help me get a little bit more fluid in that speech."

Rahm reiterated Tuesday that all the living legends were attending the dinner, which had him feeling things he wouldn't normally be feeling.

"It is quite daunting to think about the room you're going to be in and having to stand up and talk to that group of players, right. I mean, it's basically all the living legends in this game, active and non-active. Everybody who's been somebody in this game is there. So as wonderful as it is to be a part of, it's still, yeah, a little nerve-wracking for sure."

While it seems like this would likely at least a bit of a (welcome) distraction for somebody who prepares as fastidiously as Rahm prepares, it also might go the other way. Perhaps it will spur him on to another great performance. Either way, one thing is certain, everything will be different this year than it has been in the past.  

"I don't know. I don't know. I think there's an argument to be made for both," Rahm said. "Having the comfort of having been there and having done it and knowing that you can do it again but also having the hunger to get it done for the first time.

"I think the second one is harder to overcome because sometimes wanting it too much can be detrimental, but if you get past that, and you can keep the hunger, then having done it already I think is definitely a positive.

"There's a lot of people that have done it twice. Some people have done it quickly, some other players have had to wait years, but there's a few great champions that haven't been able to do it, so I'm hoping I can join Seve [Ballesteros] and Ollie [Jose Maria Olazabal] and get to two."

The last player to go back to back at the Masters was Tiger Woods. That happened in 2001 and 2002. Since then, it's been a whole lot of donuts and not any really great performances in the last 10 years outside of Jordan Spieth in 2016, when he nearly went wire to wire in two consecutive tournaments.

Reigning Masters champions, the next year

GolferWinFollowing Year

Scottie Scheffler



Hideki Matsuyama



Dustin Johnson



Tiger Woods



Patrick Reed



Sergio Garcia



Danny Willett



Jordan Spieth



Bubba Watson



Adam Scott2013T14

Rahm is hoping to reverse that trend this year and get into the exclusive three major championship club. If he does, he'll do it without the momentum of he had in 2023 when he had won three times early in the season while wading through of all the hoopla that faces a reigning champion -- the weight of coming in not only as with that moniker but also as a player who is carrying the LIV Golf torch, taking it from Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka this time a year ago.

In his press conference on Tuesday, Rahm was clearly bothered by all the LIV questions, often sighing loudly and uncomfortable with anything and everything related to the league he's now playing in.

All of that is a lot to overcome, which is not to say that Rahm cannot do it. Only that doing so might be even more impressive than winning his first Masters one year ago.