Jon Rahm has accomplished plenty in his young career, and this year’s Masters was another step forward, though at times it didn’t look that way.
Rahm’s seventh major championship start was the first in which the 23-year-old Spaniard had a chance to win on Sunday. He battled the pressure and subsequently battled his emotions, and it all came to a head in the 15th fairway, where his chances drowned as his second shot didn’t carry enough of the front bank and made its deadly crawl back into the pond.
“You know, it’s sad,” he said, “because I played so good the last three days and that one shot, one shot where I feel like I made a perfect swing and wound up in the water. It’s just hurtful.”
Rahm was 12 under and an eagle would’ve tied him for the lead at the time. Instead he made bogey, followed with three straight pars and settled for solo fourth at 11 under, four shots back, with rounds of 75-68-65-69. It’s easily his best finish in a major, and he was quick to hang his hat on that fact Sunday evening.
“I played good golf, gave myself plenty of opportunities,” he said. “I wish I would’ve made a couple more putts. It’s hard to win a major championship.
“I didn’t panic, which is the one thing I really want to learn about myself. It’s one thing to win a PGA Tour event, but a major is very different. I didn’t panic at all. I felt really comfortable. I loved the situation, I loved the hunt.”
Rahm began the day six shots behind eventual champion Patrick Reed and quickly made headway with birdies at Nos. 2 and 3. He bogeyed the fourth but got that shot back with a birdie on No. 7 before making pars through 12. Birdies on 13 and 14 set the stage for the 15th, where his chances went belly-up.
Rahm has four professional victories in less than two years (two in Europe, two in the U.S.) and now has a fourth-place finish in just his second Masters (he tied for 27th last year).
Conventional wisdom says he has all of the elements necessary to compete for a long time at Augusta National, and elsewhere, for major championships. Late Sunday, he appeared eager to carry on with that.
“Hopefully, next time I go into the back nine on a major I'm the one in the lead and get to experience that,” he said. “But hopefully I have proved to myself that I learn fast and I keep learning and learning.
"I learned from last year’s mistakes and I always try to learn from my mistakes, so hopefully next year I'll have a good showing here and I have a another chance to win a major this year.”