Jon Rahm knew that despair would turn to triumph for him – he just didn’t expect it to happen at the US Open.
Rahm is at the Renaissance for the abrdn Scottish Open in his first event since his victory at Torrey Pines. He said he’d assured his wife Kelley after he tested positive for Covid-19 and lost Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament that “something good is coming”.
‘I thought, well, today is that day’
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 30, 2021
“As soon as what happened at Memorial happened, my wife was obviously sad to see me not to be able to compete, but I I told her ‘I don’t know what or when, but something good is coming.’
“When I teed off on Sunday at Torrey Pines, I could feel it. I thought, well, today is that day. It kind of felt like the perfect ending to that little story we had.
“People don’t realise how much less upset I was than most think. I knew it could happen all along. I couldn’t fight it, couldn’t change it.
“So instead of just dwelling on the fact that I had just gotten really unlucky, I chose to just think positively.
“I was worried about golf for maybe five minutes – that was it. My attention switched directly to my family, that my wife and my son were okay. Once they tested negative, they weren’t feeling bad, nobody had symptoms, it was a lot easier for me.”
‘When I was a little kid I dreamed of doing those things’
At Torrey Pines, it all fell into place. And he’s acutely aware he now has a place in history, especially in terms of his home country.
“When I was a young kid, I set up big goals in my mind, and I aim to be the first-ever in a country to do something,” he explained.
“Especially in a country with golfers like Spain has had, it’s hard to believe that I’m the first one to win a U.S. Open, and with how many chances they had.
“Seve was capable of anything, and he never got the U.S. Open, and Ollie never got it and Sergio never got it.
“It’s huge. I really can’t describe it because, you know, all I can think of is when I was a little kid and I dreamed of doing those things. And 15 or so years later, I accomplished something that was very, very big.”
‘It didn’t take too much to come up with something very stupid’
CHAMP UPDATE: Things are going well… 💪🏆😁 | @JonRahmpga
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 25, 2021
And he celebrated hard with his friends at Silver Leaf Country Club in his base at Scottsdale in Arizona, as seen on Twitter drinking out of the trophy and smashing day-glo golf balls into the night sky.
“When you put a group of friends that have been together for a very long time, a club with very little rules to follow, and an owner of the club that is celebrating harder than anybody else, that’s what happens,” he said.
“I don’t know whose brilliant idea it was to find the glow-in-the-dark balls. You know, from there, it didn’t take too much to come up with something very stupid.
“It made for a lot of fun. At that stage of the night, I think anything would have been a good idea, really.”
‘I care deeply about what I do’
Rahm knows his passion – often illustrated vividly on course – is a key element to what he is as a player. But don’t confuse it with him off the course.
“I like the word ‘passionate’,” he said. “A lot of people assume that the person you see on the golf course and off the golf course are the same, and they’re not.
“I care deeply about what I do. I don’t like missing shots and I might feel a stronger sometimes than other people. But once I’m off the golf course and no matter how good or bad I play, I’m a very different person.
“I would say I’m different than I was maybe even five months ago, not even five years. Becoming a father put a lot of perspective.
“I’m aware of being a role model for many children, but it’s not in a direct manner and I don’t get to see it. I just thought what kind of a role model would I want if I was my son. And I wouldn’t want him to say, think, well, that’s pretty stupid what you’re doing out there.
“I kind of saw myself through those eyes and made a deal with myself that I will be better. I can’t say it’s going to be perfect at the end of the day. Everybody has good and bad days, but I certainly expect it to be better.”
‘That would be something incredible’
Rahm should be a live contender this week and next after his successes on links in Ireland. This year’s Open venue Sandwich was his first experience of links.
“I played British Boys there when I was 14,” he recalled. “I made it far enough, farther than my parents expected because I remember them having to book a different hotel.
“It was a great trip. We had a lot of fun. I think I made it to the top 16, I think.
“I’ve had a lot of success in this area of the world, although so far I’ve only been able to win in Ireland.
“There’s not many players that can say they have won The Irish Open, Scottish Open and The Open, right?
“That would be something incredible. Definitely I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to win it. I’m excited to play and hopefully I can give myself a chance.”