Three weeks ago, Jon Rahm tested positive for COVID-19. He was given the news on the Saturday, before the final day of the Memorial tournament in Dublin, Ohio, sitting with a six-shot lead. Patrick Cantlay went on to win the golf event, without overtaking Rahm’s third-day score. To many watching, it seemed as if Jon Rahm had been robbed.
Cut to the tour a few weeks later, and the 26-year-old world No. 3 golfer has achieved his first major: the U.S. Open at San Diego’s Torrey Pines. Jon Rahm was asked about how he was able to bounce back after the devastating circumstances at Memorial. He attributed the win at Torrey to positive thinking during the trophy ceremony speech. “Karma,” was Rahm’s answer after learning he had won the golf major.
“As a father on my first Father’s Day with my dad here, to get this one done the way I did, on top of that, you add the fact that we got engaged here, as well, and I have a very happy life. It almost feels like it’s a movie that’s about to end.” pic.twitter.com/9lflVdQFlU
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) June 21, 2021
“I’m a big believer in karma, and after what happened a couple weeks ago, I stayed real positive knowing big things were coming. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I knew we were coming to a special place,” Rahm said moments after being declared the winner, via CNN.
With the win at Torrey, Jon Rahm became the first Spaniard to win the U.S. Open. He also did it as a first-time father. You couldn’t ask for more on Father’s Day.
Jon Rahm kissing his child after hitting a clutch putt on 18 is as Father’s Day as it gets. pic.twitter.com/Dyv8nGmcH0
— GOLFonCBS (@GOLFonCBS) June 20, 2021
For much of Sunday, Rahm was playing neck-and-neck with Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who held steady right up until the last few holes. The Spaniard finished early, since he had not been at the top of the leaderboard the day before and was not in the final grouping with Oosthuizen. It looked as if the South African was on the brink of his second major, 11 years after he won his first at The Open.
Jon Rahm then hit two spellbinding successive birdies that demonstrated nerves of steel. First, he thrilled the full crowd at the par-four 17th hole, where he knocked out a 24-foot putt to even up the scoreboard to five under. But the new father wasn’t finished.
Rahm is FIRED UP.pic.twitter.com/J1pScgMfmM
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) June 20, 2021
However, Rahm had hit his second shot on the 18th into the bunker and it seemed as if disappointment would creep up yet again for the six-time PGA Tour winner. Maybe he and Oosthuizen would be forced into a playoff. If the birdie putt was impressive at the 17th, Rahm produced an even more sensational 18-foot birdie, which curled its way into the 18th hole, sending the crowd into rapture as Rahm pumped his fist several times.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 20, 2021
If there’s one thing you can say about Jon Rahm’s penultimate moments on the final day of the U.S. Open, he handled the pressure moments like no other. As bigger names faltered all day long—Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson (who has served as a mentor to Rahm and was the first player to congratulate him afterwards, incidentally) will walk away majorly disappointed with their performances—it was Rahm who thrived during the pivotal moments.
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) June 21, 2021
Although, Rahm had finished before Oosthuizen, and had to wait it out while the South African proceeded with the last few holes.
Perhaps it was nerves, perhaps it was too much pressure on Louis Oosthuizen, who has been so close to his second major in his last six major appearances. The 38-year-old golfer faltered at the 17th, bogeying the par-four hole when he needed to hold steady, dipping his score two below Rahm’s. The 2011 Open champion managed to improve his final score, however, with a birdie on the final hole, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Jon Rahm’s six under par, finishing just one below the champ.
Still, with several second places at majors, it is clear that Louis Oosthuizen is close to breaking through to another major achievement. Jack Nicklaus had 19 runner-up finishes, Phil Mickelson 11 second places, and Tiger seven. If Oosthuizen can home in on his ability to close during the pressure-cooker final moments, he will get to another major.
Torrey Pines was where Jon Rahm had proposed to his wife, Kelley. Rahm cradled their newborn son right after he came off the 18th hole.
“It’s incredible I finished the way I did. Sometimes you have to attack a golf course. This is the power of positive thinking. I was never resentful for what happened [at Memorial] and I don’t blame anybody,” Rahm said afterwards, according to The Guardian.
Jon Rahm’s positive turnaround after bitter disappointment is a true inspiration to the human spirit.