AUGUSTA, GA — It wasn’t long before the Masters Tournament — the first hole of the first round — was a disaster, but on Thursday morning, Jon Rahm’s internal speedometer seemed to go off. Rahm, accustomed to adjusting his putts like that, slowed and the ball slid long and escaped to the right, scoring a double bogey.
“Well,” Rahm thought as he made his way to the next tee at the Augusta National Golf Club. Rahm also had other things in mind: unlike Ballesteros, he had 71 holes to recover from.
he definitely did.
Rahm, the tall Spaniard who dominated the PGA Tour in the first few months of 2023, won the Masters on Sunday in a combination of intense humidity, a sharp drop in temperature, lush rain, tree-topping winds and Thursday’s Overcame confusion in #1. , claiming his championship in his second major of his career. His victory under an egg-blue sky meant that his four-time Grand Slam winner Brooks, who missed his cut at the Masters last April, trailed his Koepka by two strokes. Brought after starting the final round.
Rahm ultimately won the tournament by 12 under par by 4 strokes.
“We’re looking at the scores and I think we have a few holes left to win,” said Rahm. “Other than that, nothing else to say. This was for Seve. He was there to help and helped.”
Rahm’s win puts the highest ambitions of LIV Golf, a league funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and then in its second year that saw men’s professional golf split into outraged factions, at least this month. Kepka was one of the headliners on the Rebel circuit and won the LIV event in Florida last week. Augusta’s subsequent win at his National would make the golfer the first LIV player to win his major title. His next chance in the league is at the PGA Championship in mid-May at Oak Hill Country Club near Rochester, New York.
But Rahm has deliberately voided the league’s 2023 Augusta bid. At Augusta, the field of 88 included his 18 LIV golfers. The league had a solid result behind Koepka and Phil Mickelson, but a sensational Sunday game at 7-under ultimately saw him tied for second with Koepka. Masters champion dinner.
Three-time Masters winner Mickelson will probably be there too. Koepka has never shown consistency, even after finishing his first three rounds with at least a share of the lead.
“I led three rounds, but I couldn’t lead on the final day,” Koepka said. “That’s it, plain and simple.”
When Koepka made a bogey on Sunday’s sixth, he also surrendered the lead after a drive over the green, a chip well past the pin and a par putt just off the hole.
The par-5 eighth hole was where both players could have the upper hand. Both of them scored eagles during the tournament. But Koepka’s Sunday afternoon tee shot stopped on a pine straw and forced him to punch his out on the fairway. Rahm put his third shot on the green and made a tap-in birdie to extend his advantage to two.
But there was a charge to the top of the leaderboard playing elsewhere among the pines. was floating much closer than Rahm was 10-under and Koepka was 8-under, level with Jordan Spieth, who started at 1-under. Another five of his players—Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Russell Henry, Cameron Young, Patrick Cantley—were him 6 under or he was 7 under.
Lahm and Koepka were only two shots apart until the 12th hole, a stunning botanical landmark in the center of Amen Corner. This hole is his 155-yard par 3 and Augusta’s shortest test at his National. Koepka hit his tee shot high, but though he avoided the bunker, it fell toward the grass just behind the green. The second shot did not reach the green, and the third shot flew right over the pin. He made a bogey putt.
That leaves the 52-year-old Mickelson, who has already completed the round, in second place alone.
Koepka had a birdie on the 13th to keep Mickelson on par, but Rahm was three shots behind with his first birdie since the eighth.
It didn’t last long—Rahm’s lead ballooned to five on the next hole. Rolled in close shape and set up a putt for birdie. Koepka’s second shot also landed on the green, but strayed away from the pin. A long attempt for birdie failed and a much shorter attempt for par missed, so Koepka slammed out his fifth bogey of the round.
He came close to an Eagle putt on the 15th, where he settled for a birdie.
Rahm leading by four strokes in three holes played. Koepka cleared his shot on the tee at the 16th before a majestic birdie saw him cut to three, but his comeback prospects were still narrowing rapidly. It didn’t help that his ball flew from the mud shadow of East Georgia to where some spectators were sitting on his second shot at the 17th hole. bottom. He was making a bogey on a hole near the end of the third round. As the tournament drew to a close, he played another card, pushing Rahm’s advantage back to his 4-strike.
Rahm, who won his only major win at the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, sported a green jacket and, months from now, a Masters shirt engraved with the autographs of every player he’s beaten. A trophy was almost guaranteed.
After hitting the tournament-ending par putt on the 18th green, surrounded by thick, roaring galleries, he gleefully raised his arms in the air, fists clenched, hands lightly over his face. He took the ball out of the cup and put on his hat.
“I never thought I’d cry after winning a golf tournament, but I was so close on the 18th hole,” he said.
Even by star standards, having reached No. 1 on the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time in 2020, Rahm has been playing particularly well in recent months, winning the DP World Tour Championship by two shots in November. . In January he won two of his PGA Tour events with his par score of 27 under and in February he won the Genesis Invitational title.
He stumbled in March, finishing 39th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Withdrew from the Players Championship due to stomach disease. And a mediocre show at a World Golf Championship match-play tournament. But he claimed he was an unassuming “man of the week”, content to play event after event without being mentally surrounded by booms and busts.
“Every tournament I go to, my plan is to win, and my mindset has not deviated from that,” he said last week.
Until Sunday evening, he had never finished higher than 4th at Augusta National. But in his seventh Masters appearance at this year’s tournament, he arrived with a wealth of knowledge about the course that he suggested would be difficult to capitalize on.
“Here at Augusta National, I find it very difficult to apply everything I learned from each round,” he said.
He added: Understanding some breaks and some speeds of a putt can be very misleading. A little study and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, it’s a golf course where you have to come here and play good golf, right? It’s plain and simple. There are no tricks. The best player wins, that’s what you have to do. ”
He did it on Ballesteros’ 66th birthday.