Two weeks after having to relinquish a title, he landed the big one every golfer craves.
Jon Rahm crowned a five-year journey from unknown Spanish kid at the age of 21 to major champion on Sunday as he won the US Open at Torry Pines by a single stroke over perennial bridesmaid Louis Oosthuizen — who has the ‘unwanted’ tag of having finished as runner up at all four majors.
It has been a remarkable climb to the top for Rahm — and it has Dubai stamped all over it.
The Spaniard with a permanent five o’clock shadow is so hulking that he could never be described as fresh-faced — even way back when as he won his first European Tour title in 2017, the aptly named Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, and an unbreakable bond with the UAE city was born.
Even as a rookie, he played a savvy game both on and off the course as he split his time in the US on the PGA, winning the Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torrey Pines (a happy hunting ground as it transpires), and on the European Tour. It was on the latter tour that he was about to become a household name in golfing circles when the 2017 Race to Dubai finale came around on the immaculate Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates — the DP World Tour Championship — in November. He capped a sensational breakthrough season with a one-stroke win from Shane Lowry and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
The Spaniard was no longer a Tour card holder there to make up the numbers. He was no upstart. He had arrived and he was here to stay. As he hoisted the colossal DP World Tour Championship trophy (easy given the guns on his arms) for the first time as the sun set in Dubai, greats such as Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy were on hand to applaud him.
Roll on two years to 2019 — with five more titles in the bag including the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open once again — and we had a world No. 1, as Rahm swept his way to a second DP World Tour title and the whole world had taken notice as he lifted the Race to Dubai title to boot to consolidate his enduring bond with the UAE city and one of the world’s leading golf destinations.
Even COVID-19 could not halt the Spanish muscle-bound ‘Rahmbo’. Only two weeks before the US Open, Rahm was forced to withdraw three rounds into a Memorial tournament he was romping — with a six-stroke lead. He simply shrugged off the setback (and the loss of the $1.7 million winner’s pay cheque) and channelled all his attentions on his date with destiny at Torry Pines while in isolation.
He was given the all clear only three days before tee off and timed his run to perfection to lift the coveted trophy on Sunday.
Still only 26, with his favourite Irish Open only a week out, and a healthy lead in the Race to Dubai standings, the reinstated world No. 1’s love affair with all things Dubai is sure to continue in the years to come.