Event: Tour Championship
Date: September 21-24
Location: East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta
TV: Sky Sports Golf – Thurs-Fri 6.30pm-11pm & Sat-Sun 5.30pm-11.30pm
The opportunity for Jon Rahm to make history at the Tour Championship lies very much in his own hands.
Currently sitting fifth in the FedEx Cup standings, a win at East Lake would make the 22-year-old the first player to win the season-ending play-offs in their first full season on the PGA Tour.
It would cap what has, in any case, been a remarkable 15 months for the Spaniard who, after wins at the Farmers Insurance Open and Irish Open and 14 top tens in 30 starts, finds himself at No.5 in the world rankings.
To compare his meteoric rise to some of the game’s biggest names, it took Jordan Spieth almost three years to break into the top five, while Rory McIlroy didn’t crack it until he won the 2011 US Open – close to four years after turning professional.
One man who is a big Rahm fan is leading golf coach and Sky Sports pundit Denis Pugh, who says a big factor in his success is down to the fact he possesses the key attributes of the two best players in the world.
“Rahm is a huge talent in every sense of the word, with his powerful physique allowing him to hit astonishing distances,” Pugh told bunkered.co.uk. “But even more impressive is his mental strength. When things are going well, he seems to be able to pull off the right shot at the time.
“In that sense, he has the best traits of the world’s top two – Dustin Johnson’s power and Jordan Spieth’s ability to produce the right shot at the pivotal moment.
“The only thing that lets him down slightly is his temper but that usually happens when he is out of the fray and borne of frustration. It seems he isn’t happy when just making the numbers up at tournaments. It’s not appealing, but that’s just part of the Rahm package.”
While all of the top 30 at East Lake have a shot at winning the $10m FedEx Cup bonus, Rahm, along with FedEx Cup leader Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Marc Leishman all know that they can capture the trophy with a win on Sunday evening.
But one player who doesn’t have a shot at glory this week is defending champion Rory McIlroy. The four-time major winner was eliminated after a T58 finish at the BMW Championship last week and Pugh believes McIlroy ‘went through the motions’ with his three-month off-season just around the corner.
“If you look back at his career record, Rory doesn’t really do consistency,” added Pugh. “He has the ability to find a gear at certain times that makes him untouchable but it’s wrong for us to expect it to be on tap.
“His injury appears to have been worse than first thought and has certainly affected his end of season, when he appeared to me to be basically going through the motions to appease sponsor obligations.”