Born in Spain, Jon Rahm Rodríguez is one of few Europeans to have learned their trade of golf in the United States. So a return back across the Atlantic for his first two ‘regular’ European Tour events may have intimidated the 22-year-old.
Having made his name so profoundly in the US – holding the world-amateur-number-one spot for a total of 60 weeks, winning the Ben Hogan award back-to-back, finishing tied third in his first professional event and racking up two top fives at WGC events – playing back on European soil was to be a challenge for the Spaniard, especially as his quest to play in his first Ryder Cup closes in.
But, as he has in every test throughout his short golfing career, Rahm passed with flying colours. His first event was the HNA Open de France at Le Golf National and he scored no worse than level par across four rounds to finish tied 10th in healthy company with European Tour veterans Alex Noren and Lee Westwood.
Next was perhaps the bigger challenge for Rahm as he took on true British links conditions at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart Golf Club. What better way to respond to questions the questions than to fire rounds of 65, 67, 67 and 65 and stroll to a six-shot victory. He trailled the lead by one shot after the first two rounds but his final round of seven-under-par was enough to see off Richie Ramsay and Matthew Southgate.
It took the world-number-11 just two events to prove to the golfing world that he could walk with the best, and come out on top, on both of golf’s biggest tours. He’s added to his first win at the Farmers Insurance Open in February and a move inside the world’s top 10 for the first time is now certain.
His compliance with golf in America but lack of experience in Europe was maybe the only question mark left hanging over Jon Rahm despite his meteoric rise through the ranks. His trip to Europe was his chance to put any doubters to rest. Now with wins on either side of the pond and tops fives in numerous events with the best fields in world golf, he has done everything to prove he is THE next biggest thing in the sport.