Photo Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports
Masters champ Jon Rahm staying even-keeled at PGA Championship
While it used to be a somewhat more common occurrence, only two golfers have managed to win consecutive majors since 2008.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland ended the 2014 major season with victories at the Open Championship and the PGA Championship; Jordan Spieth picked up where McIlroy left off in 2015 by winning the Masters and the U.S. Open.
Now the PGA Championship is the second major on the calendar, and Jon Rahm has arrived at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y., trying to think about neither a potential career Grand Slam nor a major hangover.
“Obviously if I were to win this week or the Open Championship it really becomes a true reality, but winning two majors is not easy, and picking which ones you win is a little ludicrous to think about,” the Spaniard said. “I think obviously winning the Grand Slam would absolutely be amazing, but I think — without sounding too conceited or arrogant, I’d rather focus on the number of majors you win than having the Grand Slam, per se.”
Rahm captured his second major title last month when he won the Masters by four strokes over Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka. He also won the 2021 U.S. Open, as he has completed two legs of the career Grand Slam.
Rahm has performed like the best player in the world over a stretch of several months, so if he were to win the PGA this week, an ultra-rare true Grand Slam would be on the table.
Always a thoughtful character on tour, Rahm referred to a quote attributed to Arnold Palmer — “The road to success is always under construction” — and said it’s better for him not to enjoy things like the Masters for too long.
“Obviously it’s a big deal when you get to win (a major),” Rahm said. “Try to enjoy it as much as possible, I would say … I think try to enjoy it and process it as fast as you can might be the best way.
“But at the end of the day this is our job. You’re here to perform, so trying to focus on that, as well.”
Rahm might be well-suited for the task of blocking out distractions and noise, which has manifested in multiple ways.
McIlroy, for one, long took a front-and-center position in defending the PGA Tour and criticizing the players and financiers of LIV Golf, the Saudi-funded breakaway league. This week, McIlroy told reporters he will intentionally avoid speaking about LIV while he focuses on his game and trying to end his nine-year major drought.
Rahm, though, has never gotten in the middle of the LIV-PGA feud. He gave a clear explanation of why he’d remain with the PGA Tour last year, but he’s maintained friendships and working relationships with many of the players who defected to LIV.
“I’ve never had any negative feelings towards any player that went over to LIV,” Rahm said. “In fact, I’ve mentioned many times I still play with many of them and still try to figure out — try to play practice rounds with Phil, played with Talor Gooch yesterday. Really doesn’t make a difference to me.”
–Field Level Media