Rampant Jon Rahm has potential to be next Spain great on major stage

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Walking down the seventh green on Sunday, for a brief few moments, one could have been in downtown Madrid or Los Ramblos in Barcelona such was the large number of Spanish accents flowing around.

There were Spanish flags draped around shoulders, a necklace of La Roja football jerseys tucked halfway down the fairway, and three women stood side by side in the same red and yellow clothing. All here to cheer on their man.

Jon Rahm shifted on to the tee box, welcomed by a roar of noise, and sized up a powerful tee shot on the par 5 eighth hole.

His bustling presence and square, shaved beard could pass him off to be a Georgian rugby player in some parts of the world. But in this life he is one of the best golfers on the planet.

Tied for the lead coming into the final round, Rahm birdied five of the first seven holes to open up a six shot lead. At this point it looked like he was on course to clinch a dominant victory.

But after such a strong start to Sunday’s round, the Barrika native went from leading by six strokes to just a single shot advantage at one stage, posting four bogeys on the next eight holes between the 8th and 15th.

It was a minor blip, but between his drop in accuracy and Tommy Fleetwood’s late flourish, it was set up to be a frenetic finish.

After a flawless drive on the 18th pushed his approach into a bunker to the right of the green, there was a brief moment where one might have been forgiven for thinking it could go to a play-off hole.

But like all champions do, they find a way in moments of high pressure, and Rahm struck a superb shot to three feet and held his nerve to hole the birdie putt and seal a victory worth $5million.

After his dominance in Dubai this weekend, it is fair to say that he has established his name as a modern European great, becoming the first Spaniard since the late Seve Ballesteros back in 1991 to finish the year as European number one.

Before his recent dominance, which includes three wins this season, Rahm captured two top-10s in the Masters (T9) and the US Open (T3). He nearly cracked a top-10 at the Open also, but had to settle for 11th.

In four seasons as a professional, Rahm has now won six times on the European Tour and two times on the PGA Tour. Only a man named Tiger Woods boasts a higher success rate over the first two seasons of his career.

Just a few years ago too, when studying for a degree in Communications at Arizona State University, he set an all-time record for going 60 consecutive weeks as the top-ranked amateur.

He was the first player born outside of North America to win the Ben Hogan Award, which is given to the top college golfer each later.

All of these accolades and stats are impressive, but unfortunately numbers and trophies don’t always translate to consistent success either.

However, for Rahm, there is genuine hope he could kick on in 2020.

A first Race to Dubai and second DP World Tour Championship title is a phenomenal achievement.

Yet, all pro golfers dream of winning majors, and whether your 450th or number one ranked in the world, everyone wants to taste that ultimate glory. Only few are lucky enough to experience that feeling and achieve their primary goal though.

Rahm has done a lot at his young age and shows no signs of slowing down yet either. Constant contention at tournaments and a thirst to always improve has been at the centre of his personality. Traits that are sure to bear fruit eventually.

Sergio Garica may be Spain’s last major winner, but with power off the tee and a magical short game, Rahm has the potential to summon the spirit of Seve and be the next Spain great on the major stage.

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