For the second time in three months, Jon Rahm and Tiger Woods were up close and personal with one another.
Only this time, it wasn’t in a competitive environment as Hero World Challenge host Woods was presenting the 24-year-old with the event’s trophy, marking his sixth win since turning professional just two-and-a-half years ago.
Their earlier meeting came in the Sunday singles at the Ryder Cup, where up until that point Rahm and Woods had both been pointless and, speaking in his post-tournament press conference, the Spaniard told this tremendous story of how he rallied to take down, in his opinion, the ‘greatest golfer of all-time’ 2&1.
We’ll let him take it away…
“For those 24 hours from when I learned I was going to play Tiger, I was in the players' room a little down because we had a 10-6 lead but I hadn't really contributed,” he explained. “I kind of felt like I was letting the team down.
“I knew I was going to tee off fourth and I see the sheet. Jon Rahm vs T.W. I'm like, great. To me, the greatest golfer of all-time that I've been able to see, he just won at East Lake, he's 0-3, I was 0-2. I'm like, he really wants to win this for sure and I'm not playing my best. So that was my first train of thought.
“It was a lot of effort talking to my mental coach, Thomas Bjorn and Tommy Fleetwood, because Tommy had played him a couple times. A lot of work to set myself to what I wanted to be even though I was not hitting it good. A lot of work to create a strategy that would work.
“I went to bed that night, woke up, and all the way from the hotel to the golf course I was talking to a mental coach all 30 minutes of what I wanted to do and basically we ended up with a plan of, Thomas Bjorn said it best. Tiger just does not make mistakes. That's what he said. He's going to try to capitalise on your mistakes and he's going to hole a ton of putts, so don't be surprised.
“So I kind of went with the mindset of I'm going to have to beat this guy at his own game. I'm not a person known for not making mistakes, but I'm going to have to play as flawless as I can and it's what I set my mind so.
“Also, he's for sure the one non-European who had the biggest crowd. It is Tiger Woods. I was really just trying to not make a single mistake. Then on the last putt right before I hit it, somebody in Spanish yelled, ‘Do it for Seve’, at the top of his lungs.
“Knowing how much Seve means to me, having the five-footer to beat Tiger Woods, earning the first full point for the Europeans when it was looking kind of dark, there was a lot going on in my mind.
"Also, the Sunday of the PGA my grandpa had just passed that Sunday as soon as I finished. When they mentioned Seve, I knew he would be up there. In my mind, I'm like, I know he's up there with my grandpa, I know my grandpa's telling him everything about golf. I kind of got calm and thought, I'm just going to make it for them. There's no way them two are going to allow me to miss this putt.
“And then when I hit it and it went in, I mean, it's all that feeling, right? I tried to stay as balanced as possible, I never got mad even after missing the putt on 16. Making the putt to beat Tiger Woods, my all-time hero, man, it was hard.
“Then when I turned around, I had to apologise because I didn't see he was coming to me and he came to me with a smile. He said, ‘Man, don't even worry, you played great’, and I started crying in front of Tiger and it was such an emotional moment.
“Because of that, I don't think there's anything I can do in the game anytime soon that's going to mean more than that. Growing up watching Tiger, he was just telling me, he was showing in 2001 when he won this event, he was like, "How old were you?" I'm like, we're assuming this was in December, so since I'm from November, I just turned seven-years-old.
“I saw him win a great deal of events, grew up with a dream of someday beating him, and to do it on the Sunday of a Ryder Cup, it was extremely special. There's not many things that are going to be better than that in golf for me.”
What a story!