AUGUSTA, Ga. — This Masters had all the makings of a magical week for Jon Rahm.
The 26-year-old Spaniard arrived to Augusta National as a first-time father, his wife Kelley giving birth to their son, Kepa, last week. He played well enough to remain on the cusp of contention to win his first green jacket, but Rahm could never put it all together.
He closed on Sunday with the low round of the day, a 6-under-par 66, and looked for a little while like he might post a number that would draw the attention of eventual winner Hideki Matsuyama — if he could get to 8-under.
In the end, though, Rahm would finish 6-under and in the top 5, which wasn’t of much consolation to him.
“It’s almost like a shoulda, coulda, woulda, right?’’ Rahm said. “Each day, I’ve played better golf. First three days I just couldn’t get anything going. Today was the complete opposite. I mean, it’s golf. What am I going to do? I also showed up here Thursday mid-morning, haven’t hit a shot in six days, very little sleep. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to play as good as I did early on.’’
This was Rahm’s fifth Masters. He finished tied for seventh in 2020, tied for ninth in 2019, and fourth in 2018. So, obviously the course suits his game, so much so that it would be surprising if he doesn’t win a green jacket sometime soon.
“I kind of went out there, tried to put the best round out there for me,’’ Rahm said. “I never really thought there was going to be a chance unless I posted a record-breaking score, which needed to be 9- or 10-under.
“When I made that birdie on 12 [to get to 5-under], Hideki had just started and I believe he was 1-over after one, and I’m like, ‘I’m five shots back,’ ’’ Rahm said. “You’re thinking maybe birdie 13 and 15 and you add one more there, 8-under, he’s at 10 … all of a sudden I’m in the mix.
“It was all fun and games up until I made that birdie on 12 and I looked up and I’m like, ‘I’m not that far away.’ I tried my best at the end. I played really, really, really good golf today to shoot the 6-under.’’
Asked to assess his week, Rahm said., “Of course I’m happy. It’s still a top five at a major with a great round on a Sunday. If anything, what is it, 15 straight rounds of even par or better here? Clearly, I like the place. I play good here. My year is coming up. Let’s hope it’s soon.’’
Rahm, who has done a lot of work to curb his anger and frustration on the golf course, said being a father has softened the blow of the bad rounds.
“Let’s say the disappointment after the round lasts a lot less,’’ he said. “I finish the round and I get a picture from Kelley, and no matter what I do, if I shoot 80 or 65, it’s the same feeling. You kind of forget: I’m a parent. Once I’m done playing and the rest of the hours of the day, yeah, I am more relaxed, I am a lot happier.
“It’s great moment in our life. At 26 to have the life we have, it’s incredible, so it does lighten the mood a lot more. It might not be as intense as it would have been in another week, which it’s only beneficial.’’
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