JON RAHM SEALS VICTORY AT THE MASTERS
On what would have been Severiano Ballesteros’ 66th birthday, another Spaniard in the shape of Jon Rahm stepped up at the 87th masters and claimed a brilliant victory on an exciting final day at Augusta National.
Some awful weather that brought numerous delays on the first three days of the tournament didn’t stop the powers that be from pulling things together for the final Sunday and producing a great day of tournament golf. The third round was completed early in the morning and the final round started, and completed, at the planned time. Something that looked a distant prospect after three days of rain.
Brooks Keopka started the final round two shots clear of Rahm, and the truth is that they were the only two possible winners from Saturday onwards. Keopka was showing the sort of form that had won him four major titles before he defected to LIV Golf but the one player you don’t want breathing down your neck when you’re trying to close out a tournament is Rahm, especially if you’re playing together.
Keopka never really looked like he was going to hold on and Rahm powered his way to a final round 69 and a four shot victory. He made some good putts on the opening nine to save par and by midway through the back nine it was pretty clear that all he had to do was stay out of trouble on the final few holes to claim victory.
It was an emotional victory for Rahm, who is driven by the history of the game and knows what a massive part of that history Seve represents. He was joined in his celebrations on the final green by Jose Maria Olazabal, a two time winner himself and Rahm’s mentor as he was coming through the ranks, and a disciple of the great Seve himself in his younger days.
Other than the winner the biggest story of the week was the remarkable showing of 52 year old Phil Mickelson, who finished the round with a barrage of birdies, the final one of which lifted him into the clubhouse lead until Rahm came in. His round of 65 was enough to get him a joint second place finish with Keopka and make him the oldest player in Masters history to finish in the top five. In fact the LIV Golf defectors showed up remarkably well after the doubts about how well prepared they might be. Alongside Keopka and Mickelson, Patrick Reed finished with a 68, hoisting him into joint 4th and giving three of the top six places to LIV, a result that would have pleased Greg Norman no end!
Disappointment of the week was undoubtedly Rory McIlroy, who missed the halfway cut. The weight of expectation seems to hang heavier on his shoulders every year he returns and with the strength of the younger competition nowadays, it is going to get more and more difficult to break the hoodoo.
The weather made it a strangely muted and disjointed start to the tournament but thanks to some excellent organization, Augusta burst into life on Sunday. Let’s hope for better weather at the Open!