Jon Rahm has won the Memorial Tournament and gone to the top of the world rankings. Steve Rawlings looks back at his victory...
“Since we returned to the fray, there have been six events on the PGA Tour and only two on the European Tour but it isn’t hard to spot which Tour’s been the more punter friendly.”
Jon Rahm entered the fourth and final round of the Memorial Tournament with a commanding four stroke lead and it didn't take him long to double his advantage in what were extremely demanding circumstances. Tiger Woods called them: "Some of the more difficult conditions I've played in a long time, today the golf course got quick and got fast, it was hard to get the ball close."
It was impossible not to be impressed with the sensible way Rahm went about his business early on in round four and it's a good job he did start so pragmatically. Taking irons off the tee, the general pre-event [25.0] chance, who was matched at a high of [30.0] on Monday, managed his game superbly, allowing the chasers to come after him and make all the mistakes.
After a series of pars and birdies at the two early par fives (five and seven), Rahm stood on the ninth tee with a seemingly unassailable eight-stroke lead but the back nine wasn't nearly as comfortable as the front.
A bogey at the 10th was followed by a double at 11 and after picking up a two-stroke penalty on the 16th when his ball was adjudged to have moved at address, he came home in 41 to beat Ryan Palmer by three. And he scrambled brilliantly to restrict the score to 41.
Jon Rahm was assessed a two-stroke penalty for a violation of Rule 9.4 after a ball at rest moved.? PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 20, 2020
His score on the par-3 16th has been adjusted from a 2 to a 4. pic.twitter.com/HWbIN2woTr
Victory was never in doubt but the way the Spaniard took the title to reach the top of the world rankings was apt. He's only the second to achieve the feat and he follows in the illustrious footsteps of the late, great Seve Ballesteros.
"One of the best performances of my life," Rahm said afterwards. "Yesterday (Saturday) was probably one of the best rounds of my life and finished today with some clutch up-and-downs. And as a Spaniard, I'm kind of glad it happened that way. Every shot counts, and I tried every shot and got those two last up-and-downs, as a true Spaniard would.
"My short game has been unbelievable all week. It's been so good, and I've gotten close to chipping in a couple times. You always hear about people saying champions make it happen, and at that point I made it happen."
Over on the European Tour, the pre-event favourite, Joost Luiten, was matched at a low of [1.5] during round two of the Euram Bank Open but after a quintuple-bogey 10 at the par five seventh in round three on Friday, he fell away. Frenchman, Robin Sciot-Siegrist, fired 61 to lead by three with a round to go.
Sciot-Siegrist was matched at a low of [1.7] but he never got going in round four, eventually shooting 75 to finish tied for third. Fellow Frenchman, Joel Stalter, who was generally a [110.0] shot before the off, came through to win by two over England's Richard Mansell.
Having backed Stalter before the off last week at the Austrian Open at [300.0], when he'd contended but eventually finished tied for 15th after a poor final round, the result in Austria on Saturday was frustrating to say the least.
It's never nice to see someone win the week after you've backed them, especially when they win at such a juicy price. I shouldn't really moan as I backed him at the Austrian Open because I thought that venue would suit him but it's just a shame I didn't know before the off that he'd won at this week's venue - Adamstal Golf Course - as an amateur! I'd have undoubtedly thrown a few pounds his way had I known that.
My sole pre-event pick at the Memorial, Jason Day, looked to be in the thick of it late on in round three but he bogeyed 17 and 18, just as Rahm made a run of late birdies and having been within a few of the lead at one stage, he went into round four trailing by seven. He eventually finished tied for fourth, beaten by five.
As highlighted in the In-play Blog, I laid Rahm before the final round so it's not been a good week but I don't regret that decision. All things considered, I don't think it was a bad move and Rahm's back nine show that it could easily have panned out differently.
Contrasting Results on the Two Tours
Since we returned to the fray, there have been six events on the PGA Tour and only two on the European Tour but it isn't hard to spot which Tour's been the more punter friendly. Here's the lists of winners with their general exchange prices before the off.
Daniel Berger - Charles Schwab Challenge [120.0]
Webb Simpson - RBC Heritage [32.0]
Dustin Johnson - Travelers Championship [30.0]
Bryson DeChambeau - Rocket Mortgage Classic [7.2]
Colin Morikawa - Workday Charity Open [32.0]
Jon Rahm - Memorial Tournament [25.0]
Marc Warren - Austrian Open [110.0]
Joel Stalter - Euram Bank Open [110.0]
Berger has been by some distance the biggest priced winner in the States but he was in fine form before the break and since then, we've seen four of the world's top-seven win. And Justin Thomas, the world number three, was beaten in a playoff by Morikawa, who this morning ranks as highly as number 13.
Both of the European Tour winners have gone off at a triple-figure price but both were backed at much before the off.
Whether we can read too much into such a small sample size or not is debatable but it seems the lack of spectators on the PGA Tour is aiding the bigger names. Will that trend continue as we approach the three majors?
Is it Rory McIlroy's turn to win?
This week's PGA Tour event - the 3M Open - hasn't attracted a strong field but with the WGC - FedEx St Jude less than two weeks away and the US PGA Championship scheduled to begin on 6 August, it's not surprising to see the stellar names are taking a week off.
Rory McIlroy heads the market for the US PGA Championship with the brand-new world number one, Rahm, and the recent Rocket Mortgage winner, Bryson DeChambeau, vying for second spot. Given the list of winners so far since the restart, it looks like it might be his turn soon.
Fitzpatrick Still a Fancy Price
The US Open at Winged Foot will follow the PGA in September but after Matthew Fitzpatrick's quite brilliant two-under-par 68 yesterday, which saw him climb 15 places to third, I'm looking forward to the US Masters in November.
I picked out Fitzpatrick as one of two ante-post fancies when I looked at the event before Christmas (here) and I'm quite surprised to see he's still available at a triple-figure price on the exchange.
In addition to the aforementioned 3M Open on the PGA Tour, we also have the British Masters to look forward to this week. I'll be back with my previews later today or tomorrow.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
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