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Golf is a fickle game. Jon Rahm’s 2023 Masters began with a nightmare as he four-putted the opening hole carding a double bogey six. Then, 71 grueling holes later, the Spaniard was living a dream come true walking off of the 18th green a Masters champion.
For years now it’s felt like a matter of when, not if, Rahm would win a green jacket. For it to come by playing chaser to one of the all-time great closers in Brooks Koepka – on his hero Seve Ballesteros’ birthday – it feels like a fitting win for the 28 year old.
Koepka did not have his best stuff Sunday, certainly not the killer game we’ve seen show up in the final rounds of his four major championship victories, but that doesn’t mean this should be remembered as ‘The Masters Brooks Koepka Gave Away.’
No, the 2023 Masters should be known as the Masters Jon Rahm ran away with, the one in which he put on a clinic on the back nine of Augusta National.
Only nine players in the history of The Masters have entered the back nine on Sunday with a two-shot lead. Of those nine, only four of those players ended up putting on a green jacket at the end of the day.
Rahm found himself in that exact situation, and like any player who has made the turn with a lead at The Masters, he knew that no lead is all too safe on the back nine Sunday.
The Moment Jon Rahm Shut The Door At Augusta National
After making three quality pars on holes 10, 11 and 12, Rahm stepped to the Par 5 13th tee with a decision to make: play it safe and protect his then three-shot lead, or slam the door shut.
Rahm’s persona doesn’t really allow for him to play things safe. Instead of hitting his patented cut drive off the corner, he played a towering draw and actually cut the corner on the iconic Par 5.
Not many players in the field have the ability to get around the corner on No. 13, let alone attempt that sort of shot holding the lead with just a hand full of holes to play.
Koepka was able to match Rahm’s birdie with an impressive up and down on the hole, but Rahm’s tee shot showed the world that this moment wasn’t too big for him. He wasn’t about to cling to his lead by watching Koepka fight his swing down the stretch, but he was instead going to take it, and take it he did.
Another birdie on the 14th hole – arguably more impressive than the one on No. 13 – and the final four holes of the day allowed the golf world to reflect on the show Rahm put on.
Jon Rahm Had To Be Resilient For 71 Holes
While he may have already had a U.S. Open under his belt, Sunday at Augusta National has a different feel to it, and Rahm absolutely shined in the moment.
The Spaniard hit 11 fairway, 14 greens, and put together his only round of the week without a three putt.
Rahm was sharp, he was clinical, and he was resilient.
Looking back, Rahm had no other choice other than to be resilient from the onset of the tournament Thursday with his four putt on the first hole.
Maybe the four-putt was a blessing in disguise and freed Rahm up for the 71-hole test to come. Maybe it was a simple six on the scorecard that made his winning advantage two shots less.
Remember, golf is a fickle game.
One thing is for sure, Rahm isn’t thinking about the double bogey he made Thursday morning. Instead, he’ll look back on the 270 shots he hit after the nightmarish opening hole when he glances at the green jacket he’ll soon hang in his closet.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris
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Green jackets are for Members and Tournament Champions only and never leave the grounds of Augusta National.
The $3M+ … Mr. Rahm can put that in any closet he wishes 😉😎