ATLANTA – Jon Rahm needed time adjusting to the new normal on the PGA Tour when the sport returned in June after a 13-week break due to COVID-19.
Constant testing, social distancing, creating a bubble of safety on and off the course, flying across the country, playing in silence as spectators remain forbidden, coping with the unknown.
In his first four starts after the restart, he missed one cut and posted ties of 27th, 33rd and 37th. Even after winning the Memorial, he still remained a bit off kilter and tied for 52nd in the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
“You fly in, you get tested, then you go to the hotel or the house, hope you test negative, then you go back, get your lanyard, then get registered and get the week started,” Rahm said Wednesday. “It took me a while to get used to it.”
But he’s adjusting much better these days. Yes, he’s adjusting just fine.
After tying for 13th in the PGA Championship and tying for sixth in the Northern Trust, the FedEx Cup Playoffs opener, Rahm delivered a dramatic victory in last week’s BMW Championship in a dual among the top 2 players in the world.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson forced a playoff with Rahm by draining a 43-foot putt for birdie on the final hole. Twenty minutes later, Rahm said hold my beer as he drained a winning 66-foot putt for birdie on the same hole.
“I still can’t believe it. It’s as simple as that,” said Rahm, who finished 66-64 at Olympia Fields south of Chicago to win last week. “I played one of the most solid 18 holes I’ve played in a very long time, missed two fairways, missed one green, and had a lot of good birdie looks.
“Just solid and calm and had a lot of fun out there.”
Now Rahm hopes his game travels as he rolls into East Lake Golf Club for the Tour Championship, the season ender and the final event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Rahm is No. 2 in the world and with the staggered scoring format this week he will start in second place, two shots behind Johnson.
“Feeling good about the game,” said Rahm who has five Tour titles. “It’s a tough week. It’s a tough challenge. Usually it’s really hot and humid. It’s easy to get tired, especially after how much golf we’ve played. It’s a battle, but the good thing is everything that we’ve done until now doesn’t matter.
“It’s a winner-take-all situation.”