The New Year started with a goal for Jon Rahm, who was named a club ambassador by his boyhood soccer team Athletic Bilbao to mark the Basque side’s 125th anniversary. The golfer, currently ranked number four in the world, swiftly added another title to that honor at the Sentry Tournament of Champions on January 8, where he clawed back a six-shot final round deficit on Collin Morikawa in an epic turnaround. That victory was Rahm’s third in his last five tournaments: he also won the Spanish Open and the DP World Tour, while finishing fourth at the CJ Cup and eighth at the Hero World Challenge.
Rahm’s recent run provides a statistic that underlines his consistency at the elite level. The Basque has played 154 ranking tournaments during his career and has won 17 of them, a success rate of 11%, which in golf is a remarkable standard. In fact, only Tiger Woods has a better record, the American great having won 22% of the ranking tournaments he has played (93 wins from 421). The current world number one, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, has an 8.3% success rate (31 from 372). The same three players occupy the same positions in terms of placing inside the top three, top five and top 10 at the tournaments they have competed in.
“I always have a lot of confidence in myself,” Rahm told EL PAÍS on Wednesday during an interview with several media outlets organized by the PGA Tour ahead of the American Express Gold Tournament at the La Quinta Country Club in California. “I would love to see what percentage Tiger had at my age . During his career he even reached 33%, which is just incredible.” By the time Woods was 28 (he is now 47), he had played in 161 tournaments, winning 44 of them for a superlative 27.3% success rate.
After a spectacular 2021 during which Rahm won his first major at the US Open, the Basque failed to finish in the top 10 of any of last year’s Grand Slams: 27th at the Masters, 48th at the PGA, 12th at the US Open and 34th at the Open Championship. This season, Rahm is focused on adding to his Maiden major and the Ryder Cup. “I don’t care which major comes next. I have a certain internal conflict on the subject. I would love to be the fourth Spaniard to win the Masters [after Seve Ballesteros, José María Olazábal and Sergio García], but I would also love to be the first to win the PGA. I want to give myself possibilities on a Sunday, but Rafa Nadal has spoiled us with his 22 Grand Slams. That doesn’t happen in golf.”
Speaking about the Ryder Cup, Rahm isn’t happy that the ongoing conflict between the PGA and the breakaway Saudi Arabian LIV league excludes Garcia, one of the players who has made the jump to LIV Golf, from next September’s tournament in Rome. “The Ryder Cup is not the PGA Tour versus LIV, it’s Europe versus the United States, and I would like each team to have the best players. I would love to play with Sergio again but it’s out of my hands. It doesn’t look good though,” Rahm said.
Despite being ranked behind only McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Smith, Rahm has not had much exposure on US sports channels. “It’s because I’m not American,” he says. “There’s a certain list - Rory, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth - who are kind of spoiled by the tour, and in the last four or five years the only one who’s played like me has been Rory. At the Sentry, I wasn’t on the television until the 12th or 13th hole... My job is to win, and if I do that, they won’t have any choice but to put me on the television.”
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