It’s always fun to see a young prodigy break through so quickly to earn his first PGA Tour win. As is evident by now, winning on Tour is very hard and often takes a while to learn. Another young future star, Patrick Rodgers, couldn’t hold his 54 hole lead, and looked like the pressure to earn that first win had gotten to him. Getting those reps near the top of the leaderboard will only help, as Rahm mentioned to Dottie Pepper after his win. He noted that he played a little too safe when in contention last year at the Quicken Loans National and RBC Canadian Open, and knew that in the final round at Torrey he need to specifically putt more aggressively if he needed to win.
A quick note on Rahm’s win at such an early stage in his career. With so many young players getting wins in the past few years, it’s easy to lose context of how impressive this is. For comparison, here’s how many Tour events it took for some of the other young stars to notch their first win:
- Rickie Fowler: 71
- Jason Day: 66
- Justin Thomas: 40
- Patrick Reed: 35
- Hideki Matsuyama: 22
- Brooks Koepka: 21
- Jordan Spieth: 17
- Rory McIlroy: 16
- Jon Rahm: 13
Of course, other players like Russell Henley and Jhonattan Vegas won very early and have yet to become stars. But, given Rahm’s other results and his ability to finish his final 9 in 30 on a very tough course, it’s hard not to imagine an incredible future for this kid.
The calendar 2017 golf season has started off with a bang, with two rounds of 59 posted and a few other close calls. That has lead to some questions among the golf press, and let’s address one of them: is carding a 59 losing some of its luster?
The short answer here is no. The longer answer is no, but context is will matter.
For example, a final round sub-60 score that results in a tournament win will, almost certainly, be appropriately revered as an amazing achievement in the golf history books. But as more of these birdie bonanzas occur, there will be some nit picking about the greatness of the round. Some of the fair contextualizing items include:
- Scoring conditions that day. Paul Goydos shooting a 59 does lose a bit of significance when a 60 was posted that same day in afternoon conditions.
- Impact on the tournament. Jim Furyk’s 58 is the lowest score in PGA Tour history and a remarkable round, but he went off in one of the earliest groups on Sunday morning. There was no tournament pressure on his round. Obviously there was the pressure of shooting a 58. but it’s unlikely that pressure mounted until his final handful of holes.
- Par of the course. It is true that par is just a number, but there is a difference between playing a single round of golf in 11 under versus 13 under.
In all, don’t expect the fuss over a 59 to end anytime soon. A round that good has earned the attention, much like a perfect game in baseball or a 60 point binge in basketball. But, as these scores accumulate, so will the scrutiny around each particular round.