The Spaniard has made no secret of the fact he's been desperate to join his idol Seve Ballesteros in owning a Green Jacket. Now, on a poignant day at Augusta National, he has one
“I like to think he’s up there watching, and that he’s pulling for me,” Jon Rahm said before he set off in his bid to overhaul Brooks Koepka’s two-shot lead with 18 to play.
“If there’s anyone who has enough charisma to have any kind of influence from up above, it would be him.”
We’ll leave you to choose whether or not divine intervention was involved, but a combination of Rahm’s steely focus and Koepka’s struggle to find a birdie mean that, on the 40th anniversary of Seve Ballesteros’s second Masters win, and on what would have been his 66th birthday, Augusta has crowned its fourth Spanish champion.
Rahm, as he does every time he’s teed up here, spent the beginning of the week explaining just how desperate he was to join Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal, and his good friend Sergio Garcia on the Wall of Champions that adorns the wall of the Augusta clubhouse.
“Well, when Ollie first won, I wasn’t born, when he won his second, my family hadn’t started playing golf yet. But it’s important to me.
“When Ollie won in ’99, it was Sergio’s first start in the Masters, and when Sergio won it was my first Masters. I hope history repeats itself and I get to win someday.”
That “someday” proved to be just five as Rahm became the 56th player to slip into the Green Jacket and, with it, become a multiple major champion.
As Koepka stumbled to a 3-over 75 to finish four off the pace in tied second – we’ll let you do your own 54-hole joke here – Rahm’s 3-under 69 saw him finish four clear of a chasing pack that was topped by the unlikeliest of runners-up in Phil Mickelson, who carded a round-of-the-day 65.
Jordan Spieth snuck a back-door top-four thanks to a final-round 66 – another victory here is surely in his future – alongside Russell Henley, who gets his first top-10 in a major.
As for Rahm, he fulfils a dream he’s had since he first picked up a club.
“It’s hard to put it into words,” he said. “We all dream of things like this as players, and you try to visualise what it’s going to be like and what it’s going to feel like.
“When I hit that third shot on the green, I could tell it was close by the crowd’s reaction, and the wave of emotion of so many things just overtook me.
“I never thought I would cry by winning a golf tournament, but I got very close on that 18th hole.”
Rahm learned in his winner’s press conference that he had become the first European player ever, and just the 18th overall, to win the Masters and US Open.
“I find it hard to believe,” he said, after a long pause to soak in the information.
“If there’s anything better than accomplishing something like this, it’s making history. So the fact that you tell me that, to be the first European ever to do that, it’s hard to explain.
“Of all the accomplishments and the many great players that have come before me, to be the first to do something like that, it’s a very humbling feeling.”
As is so often the case with newly-crowned multiple major champions, Rahm was asked about the Grand Slam. But he was quick to calm that particular talk.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” he said, with a huge grin. “I mean, it would be amazing. Not many people have been able to do it.
“As players, it is on your mind, but it’s a long road ahead to be able to accomplish that. Something that two players like Phil and Arnie weren’t able to do, it speaks a lot.”
Would you bet against it?
What else happened on day 4 at the Masters?
The final round of the Masters had many twists and turns and ups and downs, but ultimately, the day belonged to Jon Rahm.
But what else did you miss? Let’s dive in…
How did our boys get on?
Matt Fitzpatrick proved to be the man flying the flag for the UK in Georgia as a final round-70 took him to a tie for 10th place.
Justin Rose had been floating around the top of the leaderboard at the weekend, but a 73 on Sunday meant the two-time event runner-up finished tied for 18th.
Speaking of the amateurs…
Sam Bennett performed valiantly in the final round. With a 2-over 74, the 23-year-old finished on 2-under and in a tie for 16th.
Bennett was the only amateur to make the cut and will be awarded the Silver Cup. A bright future is ahead for the Texas A+M University student.
What was the biggest talking point?
Phil Mickelson produced quite an incredible final round, at the age of 52, to set the clubhouse target of 8-under-par while playing with Jordan Spieth.
The three-time Green Jacket holder made five birdies on the back nine, and eight in total, to shoot a stunning 65.
The man who has divided opinion so much since moving to LIV Golf in 2022 equaled his lowest-ever round at the Masters and set the record for the oldest player to shoot 65 or better in the last round.
What was the best shot of the day?
This is an easy one. Enter Sahith Theegala who created Tiger Woods’ heroics in 2005 behind the 16th green.
Stat of the day
Jon Rahm opened his week at Augusta National with a double-bogey. Not many players have done this and gone on to win a major in the last three decades…
Final leaderboard at the 2023 Masters
-12 Jon Rahm
-8 Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka
-7 Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Russell Henley
-6 Cameron Young, Viktor Hovland
-5 Sahith Theegala
-4 Scottie Scheffler, Matt Fitzpatirck, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa
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