Jon Rahm becomes the 6th European player to feature in our Masters countdown, with more to come – highlighting just how strong the state of European golf is right now. Rahm will be making his Ryder Cup debut in September, but before then he will be looking to make further progress in the major championships.
He played in all four majors in 2017, after making his debuts in both the U.S. Open and the Open Championship in 2016, but endured fairly mixed results. He made the cut in three (missing the weekend at the U.S. Open) but finished no higher than his T27 on his Masters debut, more on that later..
A different level of player once again, Rahm is expected to contend every time he tees it up and quite often delivers and now contending in majors will be the aim.
Despite not cracking the top-25, Rahm for the most part played Augusta very well in 2017, especially as a debutant, sitting T6 after 36-holes.
Opening rounds of 73-70 had Rahm sitting at 1-under-par at the halfway stage and three off the lead, but weekend scores of 73-75 halted his efforts and he slid down a number of places on the leaderboard.
A triple-bogey on his 72nd hole saw him drop to a final score of +3, which given the tough scoring last year was still not to be scoffed at from the first-timer. Had he of parred the last he would have finished inside the top-20, in a tie for 16th with Steve Stricker.
It was fine margins for Rahm, who made 12 birdies over the week, just two less than compatriot and winner, Sergio Garcia.
Why he can win the 2018 Masters
Now he’s had a look once, Rahm should feel a lot more comfortable with Augusta and with the experience of both Garcia and Phil Mickelson to lean on, he will not be short of information on how to improve.
Since his efforts here last year, Rahm has won both the Irish Open and DP World Tour Championship on the European Tour, as well as winning the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, to start 2018 with a bang.
After winning the CareerBuilder, Rahm went on to contend at both the Farmers Insurance Open (an event he won last year) and the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but poor showings on the weekend at Torrey Pines and on the Sunday in Phoenix saw him tumble down the leaderboard.
It appeared in both of these events that he simply put too much pressure on himself to not only contend, but win and that is holding him back somewhat. There is no questioning his ability, it is just his temperament that comes under scrutiny at times, something he will hopefully improve on as he gets older.
Rahm is clearly one of the most talented players in world golf, and before the Match Play last week his results reflected that, hence why he is now ranked No.3 in the world.
There will of course be plenty of expectation and intrigue surrounding him this season and it is a matter of how he copes with that, on top of his own personal expectations, as opposed to any question of ability when it comes to the young Spaniard.
In short, if he remains level-headed and plays to his strengths, he has every chance of winning the year’s first major and will be hoping to emulate the success of his good friend, Garcia.