Jon Rahm continues blistering form with second-straight PGA Tour title at The American Express

CNN
 — 

Sunday was the beginning of Lunar New Yr, the Yr of the Rabbit. Within the {golfing} calendar, it marked a continuation of the 12 months of Jon Rahm.

The Spaniard edged American rookie Davis Thompson to clinch a one-shot win at The American Categorical in La Quinta, California, sealing his second successive victory on the PGA Tour after a dramatic comeback win on the Sentry Event of Champions earlier this month.

With two wins on the DP World Tour on the finish of 2022, the world No. 3 has now gained 4 of his final six occasions. Even within the two he didn’t win, he tied for eighth and fourth.

Solely as soon as in his final 10 begins has he completed exterior the highest 10, a tied-Sixteenth place end on the PGA Tour Championship. It’s the type of a lifetime, and Rahm is relishing it.

“I felt accountable for my recreation … about as snug as will be,” he advised reporters Sunday.

“Each time I felt like this prior to now, I’ve ended up occurring to win, simply because it takes lots of strain off lots of elements of my recreation, understanding that principally I’m going to hit the shot that I’m envisioning.

“Like I mentioned all 12 months final 12 months … you’re seeing now the fruits of all of the laborious work that I’ve put in. I felt like I used to be swinging very well final 12 months, the outcomes have been simply not occurring. And so they’re coming in a bunch proper now.”

Victory in California marked the ninth PGA Tour title of Rahm’s profession, although the previous world No. 1 was made to work for it by a 23-year-old rookie Thompson enjoying in simply his twentieth PGA Tour occasion.

Having begun the deciding spherical tied for the lead, the duo nonetheless couldn’t be separated with simply three holes left to play. After Rahm nudged forward with a birdie on the par-five Sixteenth, Thompson appeared destined to degree with a birdie of his personal on the subsequent gap, solely to see his winding 50-foot putt agonizingly bounce off the flag.

Dropping his putter to the bottom, a devastated Thompson put his head in his arms. Although he would faucet house for par and repeat the feat on the last gap, Rahm held his nerve with back-to-back pars of his personal to card four-under on the day, 27-under 261 for the match, and seal one more title.

“I had an amazing week. Competing towards the perfect on the planet is my dream and I did that at the moment and proved that I can hold with them,” mentioned Thompson.

“I’ll in all probability play the ‘what if’ recreation in my head for a very long time, sadly … however I’m pleased with myself for this week.”

Rahm was filled with reward for the College of Georgia alumnus, who rose to a profession finest 59th on the planet following the weekend.

“Davis performed superb golf at the moment,” Rahm mentioned.

“If his ball goes in on 17, you by no means know what can occur, however fortunately, the scales tipped in my favor.”

The win sees Rahm rise to the No. 1 spot within the FedExCup for the primary time in his profession and consolidates his standing as the person to beat heading into the Farmers Insurance coverage Open at Torrey Pines on January 25, the location of his maiden PGA Tour victory in 2017.

A win in San Diego would seal a exceptional begin to the 12 months, although the Spaniard would nonetheless want one other 4 in a row to match Tiger Woods’ file of seven straight PGA Tour victories between July 2006 and January 2007.

Rahm’s current run places him among the many early favorites for main glory this season, as he appears to be like so as to add to his 2021 US Open title. He’s at present essentially the most in-form participant in golf, but the 28-year-old has taken loads of inspiration from athletes in different sports activities.

It’s a “very lengthy checklist” of examples, starting from swimming royalty Michael Phelps to lately retired NFL defensive finish JJ Watt, however amongst Rahm’s longest-running function fashions is NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

“I see lots of similarities between us in the way in which we strategy our craft, as a result of craft is the important thing phrase for Kobe,” Rahm mentioned.

“Having that obsessiveness that we each have over the sport. It’s someone to be taught from, for positive. Work ethic beats expertise daily of the week, interval. And I prefer to suppose that I’ve a very laborious work ethic and I put lots of time in.”