You can’t win ’em all, the cliche goes and the records say. Jon Rahm, who’s won nearly all, knows this well.
Sunday cemented it. It was humbling. To set the day up, Rahm is your Masters champ, your Tournament of Champions champ, your Genesis Invitational champ and your American Express champ — and that’s just since the start of the year. He’s the world No. 1. No one has won more money in a single PGA Tour season — and Monday is May 1. Rahm is inevitable, and if you’re an Avengers fan, and you’re thinking Rahm is Thanos, you’re not the only one.
“Yes, he’s probably Thanos,” Max Homa said back in February, after the Genesis. ”He has a lot of the stones in his toolbox. He’s a tremendous golfer. He has zero weaknesses.”
But Sunday came. And Sunday went. And Rahm did not defend the Mexico Open that he won last year. Tony Finau is the winner.
Rahm didn’t play poorly. He shot a four-under 67. But it wasn’t enough. Finau had him by two strokes to start the day, then shot a 66, and that was that. Rahm birdied five times. But the day was a chore — outside of the driveable par-4 6th and two par-5s (7th and 18th), Rahm had no looks at birdie closer than 16 feet.
“It was a day where I didn’t do much wrong, but I didn’t do much right, either,” Rahm said afterward. “I didn’t feel like I was putting perfect swings out there, but they also weren’t terrible. I just found myself a large part of the day between 20 and 45 feet for birdie, never really having a real look.
“And then when it was time to put some pressure on, you know, I didn’t play 12 and 14 properly, made some birdies in between. But still, again, even 16 and 17, those are two shots that if you tell me mid-ball flight, I would have told you they were on the green and they were going to be good shots and they just weren’t. That’s pretty much the same story the first two days, right. If it wasn’t for that fantastic round yesterday (a course-record 61), I really wouldn’t have had a chance to compete for the tournament. It is what it is. Still proud to come back after the year that has been and put on a show and have a good defense of the title.”
“Even as someone who’s the No. 1 golfer on the Tour and has won so much out here, how valuable is it to have this experience continuously being in the hunt on Sunday like you were?”
Answered Rahm: “Yeah, I mean, it’s a great reminder that what you’ve done means absolutely nothing; you still have to go out there and do it.”
He had more.
“It’s also good so you don’t think too much of yourself, right? Like obviously I wanted to win, but it’s a reminder that everybody out here is a great player and Tony came out with a two-shot lead and played fantastic golf. I feel like had I been able to pressure him a little more, we would have seen more birdies from Tony. It’s like I said, a great reminder of what I still need to do to be able to keep winning tournaments, and if you ask me, that’s almost a blessing in life, to know that the work is not really done. It’s never done; the search is ever ongoing.”
It’s just that maybe there’s a pleasure in losing, too. If you’ve wondered why he’s won nearly all — and will be a favorite in a couple weeks at the PGA Championship — well, then here you go.
Rahm then quoted Arnold Palmer.
“The path, I believe Arnie said — the path to success is always under construction and that couldn’t be any more true.”