Jon Rahm knew after contracting Covid-19, missing his parents meeting his son and losing a near-certain PGA victory two weeks ago that he was due for something good to happen.
It turned out to be winning his first major title, which happened Sunday at the US Open at Torrey Pines, one of his favorite places in the world.
“This one is very incredible, very hard to believe, that this story can end up so good,” Rahm said. “It almost feels like it’s a movie that’s about to end and I’m going to wake up soon.
“With the setback I had a couple of weeks ago, to end up like this, it’s incredible. I do love Torrey Pines, and Torrey Pines loves me.”
Defending champion Rahm had seized a six-stroke lead after 54 holes at the Memorial when he was told seconds after finishing his round that he had tested positive. He spent the next week in quarantine until two negative tests allowed him to return to US Open preparations.
On the same course where he proposed to his wife Kelley Cahill and where he won his first US PGA title in 2017, Rahm sank birdie putts on 17 and 18 to defeat South African Louis Oosthuizen by one stroke.
“It felt like such a fairy tale story that I knew it was going to have a happy ending,” Rahm said. “I could just tell. I knew there was something special in the air. I could just feel it. I just knew it.”
“That’s why I played as aggressive as I did, because it was like, man, this is my day, everything’s going to go right. I felt like that helped me. I just knew that I could do it and believed it.”
It didn’t hurt he had faced similar putts before at Torrey Pines in PGA Tour play.
“I knew I could get it done,” Rahm said. “I’ve made a couple of long left-to-righters in the past in some clutch moments, and I was able to get two more on the last two holes.
“The fact I stayed patient and hopeful and believed something good was coming my way is what helped. I never lost hope for a second.”
In a strange way, getting Covid-19 helped Rahm pull off his long-sought breakthrough major triumph.
“I believed from the biggest setbacks we can get some of the biggest breakthroughs, and that’s why I stay so positive,” Rahm said.
Rahm has been trying to control his temper better on the course, but after a club-crunching incident at last month’s PGA Championship, the Spaniard has felt calmer and in greater emotional control.
“I feel like coming in here without having practiced much relaxed me a little bit. In case I play bad, I have an excuse. Hey, I had Covid,” Rahm said.
“I feel like it relaxed me a little bit and ever since the Sunday at the PGA, I felt a bit of a shift on the golf course mentally. I still had that grit, but almost like each miss bothered me less.”
First Father’s Day
Rahm, who said his biggest Covid-19 disappointment was not being there when his parents saw their grandson for the first time, celebrated his first Father’s Day as a dad hoping to set an example for two-month-old son Kepa.
“I really set out myself to be an example for my son that he would be proud of,” Rahm said.
“I’ve done some stuff in the past on the golf course that I’m not proud of and I wish I could eliminate it.
“But I’ve accepted it. I’m not saying it’s going to be smooth sailing until the end, but my mental game was really good.