US Open Champ
He was the last man standing.
Two weeks ago he suffered a huge disappointment when a virtual certain victory was snatched away in a most unusual circumstance. But not a shock considering the times.
On this occasion, the “karma” he talked about afterwards, became a reality.
Jon Rahm won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
His first triumph in a major.
Then first Spaniard to capture this particular championship.
Isn’t it amazing how with every golf major as of late, there is either some kind of historic note, human interest element, or irony wrapped around the champion?
Let’s take a quick look.
A year ago in the year of the pandemic, Bryson DeChambeau, won his first major title at the U.S. Open, which had been postponed for three months and played without spectators. He turned a two-stroke deficit into a rousing six-stroke victory on the final round.
He developed so many new followers intrigued by his unorthodox style on the links.
At the PGA championship, Collin Morikawa became the third youngest player to win the PGA at 23, beating the game’s biggest names.
Another signal of the new wave of top-tier performers. This year,
Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese men’s golfer to win a major, and the first Asian-born to win the Masters.
Then, Phil Mickelson at the age of 50 finished first in the PGA championship to become the oldest major titleist in golf history.
Now Jon Rahm has added his name to the “firsts” we’re seeing whenever the big tournaments are held.
It was a fascinating final round, filled with the stars of the game packed tightly on an all-star leaderboard which most of the time saw one or two strokes separating the top 10.
It was truly up for grabs.
But along the way, Morikawa, DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, and Brooks Koepka, to name a few, self-destructed, and fell by the wayside.
It eventually came down to Rahm, and Louis Oosthuizen, who was contending under the radar throughout the championship.
What ultimately separated the two was a bogey on the 17th by Oosthuizen, and two spectacular putts by Rahm for birdies on 17 and 18 that sealed the win.
Rahm trailed the South African by one with two holes to play.
But his 24-footer on 17, and his 18-foot twister on the 72d hole earned the emotional, but likable Spaniard, his first major. There will be more to follow.
The “karma” Rahm mentioned was dramatic.
Two weeks ago he held a monumental six-shot lead into the final round of Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament in Ohio.
In a heartbreaking scene after finishing the third round, Rahm was informed that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and was forced to withdraw. He knew the risks of not having been vaccinated and taken a chance.
He was slumped over, deflated and crushed when he was told.
Bad news at Muirfield
He had to quarantine, where he finally saw his father after a long hiatus visiting from Spain. It was the fist time his dad saw Jon Rahm’s new son. Waiting beyond the final green was Rahm’s wife and infant son.
Talk about a story for Father’s Day.
More of the human element.
It was at Torrey Pines that Rahm proposed to his now-wife, and now he was hugging and carrying the boy off the course.
It was only a matter of time before Jon Rahm cashed in and won a major.
He has a charming smile, and an explosive temper.
He says he wants to control the temper, especially in his new role as a father.
Whether he does or not is a matter of conjecture.
While it’s difficult to change your temperament, simple maturity often can lead the way.
No one ever wants Rahm to lose that smile.
With more major victories we should see more of them.
Last Monday, the Supreme Court unanimously backed athletes in their dispute with the NCAA over college athlete compensation.
In a 9-0 decision, the Court sided with athletes in their lawsuit to get paid for performing.
Many states allow athletes to earn money from their names, images and likeness, but this is just scratching he surface.
It appears the Supreme Court is telling schools to figure it out and come up with an equitable solution to their reluctance to compensate.
The one term I have always scoffed at was “student-athletes”.
Not that it doesn’t exist. It does.
That may be the case in the Ivy League, and at other schools, even at the football and basketball powerhouse schools.
But there are also athletes who rarely, if ever, attend class.
That’s a fact.
But the reality is, that many talented athletes are recruited to play and win before huge crowds that bring in the money that pays for things well beyond sports. We’re talking about millions of dollars if not more.
When a college or university is successful, they rake in a phenomenal amount of cash.
When we talk about success, we’re talking about bowl games, March Madness and television rights.
High-profile coaches in the two sports make millions.
Colleges have benefitted from the fact that coaches can last for decades, but the players come and go.
Where would these schools be without the athletes, perhaps not all of them stars, but necessary cogs in a team’s overall success.
They deserve their share.
What that share is, has to be determined.
The decision by the Supreme Court insures there will be a change on this front.
It’s about time.