POSITIVE THINKING: Jon Rahm wins first major at US Open
Image credit: PA Bradley Collyer
Jon Rahm hailed the “power of positive thinking” after winning his first major title with a stunning finish in the 121st US Open.
Rahm became the first Spanish player to lift the title and also returned to the top of the world rankings after making birdies on the final two holes at Torrey Pines to finish a shot ahead of Louis Oosthuizen.
The 26-year-old had tested positive for Covid-19 just 15 days earlier and was given the news moments after completing a third round of 64 to establish a six-shot lead in defence of his title at the Memorial Tournament.
“This is the power of positive thinking,” said Rahm, who was able to cut short a 10-day period of self-isolation last Saturday after twice testing negative.
“I was never resentful for one second for what happened. And I don’t blame anybody. It’s been a difficult year and unfortunately, Covid is a reality in this world and it’s affected a lot of people.
“We have lost a lot of people back home. We have lost some friends. This one is to a friend of mine who was a journalist who had just started getting into golf and he was basically following me around the world, and he passed away a few months ago from Covid.”
Rahm won his first PGA Tour title at Torrey Pines, where he also proposed to his wife Kelley. She and their infant son Kepa were the first to greet Rahm after his dramatic birdie on the 18th.
“I’m a big believer in karma, and after what happened a couple weeks ago I stayed really positive knowing good things were coming,” Rahm said.
“I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I knew we were coming to a special place, I knew I got my breakthrough win here and it’s a very special place for my family.
“The fact that my parents were able to come, I got out of Covid protocol early, I just felt like the stars were aligning, and I knew my best golf was to come.
“I have a hard time explaining what just happened because I can’t even believe I made the last two putts, and I’m the first Spaniard ever to win a US Open.
“This was definitely for Seve (Ballesteros). Usually, we think a lot about him at the Masters, but I know he wanted to win this one most of all.”
Oosthuizen had already finished second in each of the four majors before being runner-up in last month’s US PGA and was left to rue a pulled drive into a hazard on the 17th.
“It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing,” the former Open champion said. “I’m playing good golf, but winning a major championship is not just going to happen.
“You need to go out and play good golf. I played good today, but I didn’t play good enough.
“I definitely left a few putts or shots out there. I took the tee shot on at 17, and I knew it was a crucial hole for me to take it on and give myself a birdie opportunity.
“I didn’t pull it off, but standing on that tee again, I’ll probably do the same thing, taking a driver and taking the shot on. I feel like I had my shots, I went for it, and that’s what you have to do to win majors. Sometimes it goes your way and other times it doesn’t.”
Positive coronavirus test, positive thinking, positive role model for his son - Jon Rahm and his journey to US Open win
Jon Rahm became the first Spanish player to lift the US Open title and also returned to the top of the world rankings after making birdies on the final two holes at Torrey Pines to finish a shot ahead of Louis Oosthuizen.
The 26-year-old had tested positive for coronavirus just 15 days earlier and was given the news moments after completing a third round of 64 to establish a six-shot lead in defence of his title at the Memorial Tournament.
Given his reputation for fiery displays of temper on the course, that might have been expected to derail Jon Rahm and his bid for victory at the US Open, where he won his first PGA Tour title in 2017 and later proposed to his wife Kelley.
But he handled the situation with an admirable sense of perspective, defending the PGA Tour’s decision to strictly enforce their rules and noting that he still had the positive memories of his performance at Muirfield Village to draw on.
“I know it’s hard to believe, but there’s been a steady progress,” Rahm said. “I feel like from the setbacks, some good moments have come.
“I believe becoming a dad was always going to help me because before I could always have the excuse that getting mad helped me out, helped me win golf tournaments, but right now I’m a role model to my son. I’m going to be, as I am to many kids out there.
“Now I understand what I can do and I know I can perform at my best without showing my frustration so much. I made that deal with myself after the third round of the (US) PGA.
“I wasn’t happy with how I ended, and I could have handled it better, and I vowed to myself to be a better role model for my son.
“He won’t remember any of this because he’s only 10 weeks old, but I do. Hopefully in the future, he can grow up to be someone who’s proud of his dad. I hope I can provide that example.”
Rahm spoke about believing in karma and the “power of positive” thinking following his enforced withdrawal from the Memorial Tournament, which initially meant a 10-day period of self-isolation.
Two negative test results allowed Rahm to leave isolation three days early and he also revealed how messages of support from Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington and six-time major winner Nick Faldo boosted his spirits.
“The first person who called me, who wasn’t family, when I was in the isolation trailer was Padraig Harrington,” Rahm said.
“He told me a story in which he was leading by five after 54 holes (in the 2000 Benson & Hedges International Open at The Belfry), and got disqualified. He said he learned a lot more than he would ever learn from the win.
“Nick Faldo texted me the next morning and told me a story of how he was winning a tournament. He was leading by six with six holes to go and got disqualified as well, and how he learned from that and got a win the week after.
“I believe from the biggest setbacks we can get some of the biggest breakthroughs, and that’s why I stay so positive. That’s why I kept telling Kelley, when she was devastated about what happened and my family and everybody around me, something good is going to come.
“I didn’t know what, but something good is going to come, and I felt it out there on the golf course and I knew today was my day.”
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