Jon Rahm’s birdie putt on the 12th hole perfectly sums up his 2023 ACCIONA Open de España presented by Madrid. It was tracking from the moment he hit the ball until it was one centimetre from the hole. Then, it swung to the right, at the very end. Rahm exploded: “What a week! I can’t believe it, it’s incredible!”. And it really is. In 36 holes he has only sunk two putts of over ten feet. Never has the Basque player had so many birdie looks and missed so many putts.
It is not surprising that when one finally dropped, he was over the moon. Rahm jokingly lifted his hands to the Madrid sky after holing the ten-foot putt he left himself on the 8th. He did not hold back in his celebration and was smiling from ear to ear, again demonstrating that he has learned to cope better with the frustration when things are not going his way.
On the 6th, no sooner had he hit his putt, he said out loud: “I’m holing this one”. Of course, the long, snaking putt whistled past the hole. He laughed again at his cursed luck on the greens. The fact is, despite his lack of success, he did not putt badly. He said so yesterday, and he was not wrong. Given all of his lip-outs, horseshoes, inexplicable breaks, and those he has left on the brim of the hole, it is unbelievable that he has not made more birdies.
Add to this the fact that his driver was not behaving, and we have the only possible combination where the Spaniard is not in contention for the title on Sunday. Today, his power-fade failed to materialise on several holes, and he paid the price. He had to lay up twice because he was blocked by a tree on his second shot. When things are not going your way, it is hard to find any luck at all.
Something happened to Rahm this week that we have never seen before. For the first time in his career, he was level par for the three par 5s at Club de Campo. Not even during his Saturday collapse in 2021 was that the case.
His adventures today on the 7th were telling. Having putted for eagle, he walked off the green with a par. It was the only time today that he looked genuinely angry. The pin was cut in the back-left corner of the green, on a slope. He could not believe they had put it there, and he said so to the DP World Tour referee, to his caddie, and to Cabrera Bello’s caddie. He told anyone willing to listen.
Even after all of that, he managed to sign for a four-under 67 that leaves him on -7. When Rahm is playing badly, he still shoots lower than the average tour player on a good day. Following his round, the Bilbao native made a prediction for tomorrow: “The best is yet to come”. If I were you, I wouldn’t miss it.