As one player exits another player enters. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of youngsters (under 25’s) on the PGA Tour at the moment who are showing the world that they are a force to be respected, not least because they are ranked 1,2 and 3 in the FedEx rankings
These guys being Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.
All three have already won this year, in fact in total the three of them have won four times already in 2017.
These three stars are definitely in the ascendency. This is in stark contrast to the lacklustre Tiger Woods who was scheduled to play in five events in the first eight weeks of the year. He has managed only three competitive rounds in the first two events before his back failed him, forcing him to withdraw from his competitive schedule. He now is re-evaluating his body, mind and desire. Not quite ready to hang up his spurs, yet knowing that his best form, mind and body is behind him. No longer the leaderboard force which received attention from every player in the field.
His body is discussed more than his prowling prowess on the course. The doctors are doing the talking more than his clubs these days. It’s an unsatisfactory end in every respect. Some might say his authority over the game dissipated the moment his extra marital affairs became public knowledge, that fateful Thanksgiving in 2009. Exactly the time his seven iron was smashed through his Cadillac’s window, so was his reputation. He no longer garnered the respect of the public or fear from his competitors. He had shown weakness, blood was in the water, he was human after all.
Eight years have now passed, the fall has been slow. He won fourteen Majors between 1997 and 2008. No Majors since. The chase for the title is all but done. Mr Nicklaus is probably resting easy, after all, if Tiger couldn’t do it, who could?
You may think that this issue is going to focus on the profiles of Matsuyama, Thomas and Spieth. It isn’t, we are going to look at the twenty-two-year old placed at No 6 on the FedEx rankings. Someone who has already won this year. A young man called Jon Rahm.
This is what we know about him so far… He is twenty-two, attended four years at Arizona State University where he became a four-time All American First Team player. More significantly, he is the only college player to have been awarded the Ben Hogan Award twice, for being the most outstanding amateur male golfer in the US. Not even the great Tiger has two of those on his mantelpiece. Naturally he was ranked World Amateur Number 1.
He turned pro at the end of 2016 and has now played seven PGA Tour events this season, made eight out of eight cuts, his stroke average is 69. Impressive stuff isn’t it? For a twenty-two-year-old. The spectacular is yet to be mentioned. So here it comes, when he arrived at Arizona he could hardly speak a word of English, now he has a slight American accent. That’s right he is not American.
He is Spanish.
Jon Rahm is the next great thing who is finding his way on the PGA Tour and he could be playing in the Ryder Cup next year, on our side. He is currently the highest ranked European player in the States. Ahead of Stenson, Casey, McIlroy et al.
You have to figure that Thomas Bjorn has his eyes fixed squarely on him and will be offering his considered advice on how to stay eligible for his team next year.
As I am writing this, we only have 49 days until the Masters. Every player who has received their invite has their eyes on the first Major of the year. Every avid golfer, worldwide, is looking forward to it.
Now you know about Jon Rahm, you can only imagine how much he is looking forward to his first Masters.