LAHAINA, HI – JANUARY 06: Jon Rahm of Spain reacts on the ninth hole during the third round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 6, 2018 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
By Joel Beall
Golf is blessed with a wealth of intriguing narratives. Will Spieth-Thomas become the next great rivalry? Can Rory bounce back from a subpar season? Does Tiger have anything left in the tank? Among these tantalizing storylines is the fledgling firepower of Jon Rahm.
The world was his for the taking after a lights-out start to 2017, highlighted by his breakthrough at Torrey Pines. Admittedly the hype went a little off the rails; for as magnificent as Rahm looked on tour, he appeared very much the rookie at the majors. Nevertheless, with a win at the DP World Tour Championship in November–his third of the campaign–the Spaniard showed he’s at the forefront of golf’s youth revolution.
But, in case Doubting Thomases need a reminder of Rahm’s emergence, this tidbit from the Tournament of Champions should do the trick.
Dustin Johnson dominated the weekend headlines for his ridiculous display at Kapalua, and rightfully so. But Rahm’s play warrants attention as well. The Plantation Course is notoriously unkind to first timers, but Rahm toured its 72 holes in 16 under, good enough for a second place in the field of 34. And a finish that delivered a bit of history. The runner-up pushed Rahm to No. 3 in the world rankings, becoming the fourth-youngest player to reach that standing. The other three? Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
Joining such company is impressive in itself, and a feat that gains distinction when realizing Rahm was outside the top 125 at this juncture last season.
Rahm is taking the week off, but returns to a jam-packed schedule with scheduled appearances at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Farmers Insurance Open, Waste Management Open and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. If recent performances are any indication, don’t be surprised if he continues his OWGR climb.