World number one Jon Rahm’s rollercoaster year takes another crazy turn on Thursday when he defends the BMW US PGA Championship title on a course he hadn’t seen until Tuesday.
The 26-year-old Spaniard won the FedEx Cup playoff last year at Olympia Fields near Chicago, hitting a 66-foot putt on the first extra hole to defeat Dustin Johnson in the playoffs.
This week, he tries to repeat a new route of the tour, Caves Valley in the suburb of Baltimore, Maryland.
” I do not know. Absolute zero, ”Rahm said on Tuesday. “I really don’t know anything. For anyone I have asked who has played here this is a great golf course. “
Rahm’s season included his first major US Open victory in June at Torrey Pines and the arrival of his first child, with wife Kelley giving birth to son Kepa just before the Masters in April.
But in June, Rahm had a six-stroke lead after the third round as the defending Memorial Tournament champion when he was forced to retire after testing positive for Covid-19.
In July, Rahm was forced to miss the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for Covid-19 again.
And last week, Rahm opened much of the way for the Northern Trust, but a hurricane postponed the final round until Monday, when he settled for third place.
“I’m just looking for a normal tournament week at this point, just a week where it’s just uneventful, we don’t have hurricanes, Covid or anything like that,” Rahm said.
“Fortunately, I can say that there were a lot more positives than negatives. There were moments that could have brought me down that, on the contrary, lifted me up and pushed me towards greater things.
“The general state the world is in with Covid, I can be very happy that no one in my immediate family had any problems and it wasn’t stressful, when I know a lot of people have suffered. It could have been much worse.
“It was a great year. Still not finished. There is a lot more to play, and I hope I can continue to improve. “
Just a three-hour drive from Liberty National, Rahm made a quick exit to try and get two practice laps at Caves Valley, not thinking about missing out on a win in the first PGA Playoff event.
“Just because we had to go home, pack, sleep, travel, I didn’t really have time to think about it,” Rahm said.
“There are a lot more positives to take away than negatives. There are a lot of good things that I did last week and I hope I can keep them going. “
– Rahm’s first PGA rehearsal? –
The season’s top 70 points players qualified for the BMW with just the top 30 after Sunday’s final round qualifying for next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.
Rahm is safely in second in points but would love to be in first position for next week’s title fight.
“It’s the week before East Lake, so I think we’re all trying to get in shape right before our very last big event,” said Rahm.
“It’s definitely something I have in mind, and I can’t help but think that I hope to make it my first defense on the PGA Tour. “
This week, that means being a quick learner.
“It will be about removing the lines from the tees and touching the greens. It will be the most important thing, ”said Rahm.
“I don’t want to take too many at once because I won’t be able to get all the details.
“I feel like generally getting the vibe for the place is the most important thing, at least in my case. “
© 2021 AFP