Written by
Mike McAllister
May 01 2024
- 5 MIN
Rahm stare Singapore

SINGAPORE – In his first six starts since joining LIV Golf, Jon Rahm has finished inside the top 10 each time. None of the other 53 players entered in this week’s tournament in Singapore can match that consistency, and it’s the reason why the Legion XIII captain ranks second to Joaquin Niemann in the season-long Individual Championship points race.

His statistical lines are just as impressive. He’s second in the league in stroke average (67.3 to Niemann’s 67.2) and is tied for first in both par-4 and par-5 scoring. His Strokes Gained averages off the tee and around the greens are among the league’s best. Oh, and his 95 birdies are six more than anybody else.

Rahm has also celebrated two wins with his expansion team. Legion XIII won its LIV Golf debut in Mayakoba, and also in Miami a month ago. He knows what it’s like to spray champagne on teammates atop the podium.

The only thing Rahm hasn’t achieved thus far in his short LIV Golf tenure is win an individual title. As much as he’d like to have already checked that box, the Spanish star is not dwelling on it, or frustrated by it. He’s focused on the positives … and the positives indicate that he’s playing some of the most consistent golf of his career.

“I would be lying if I told you I’m anything but happy with how I’ve been playing,” Rahm said Wednesday in between prep work at Sentosa Golf Club. “I mean, I’ve topped-10 every single time I’ve teed it up, so I can’t say that’s bad. Consistency is always good, but yet I’m looking forward to hopefully getting it across the line.”

His best chance to date was his Mayakoba debut, when he shared the lead with two holes left before suffering consecutive bogeys to drop out of the playoff between eventual winner Niemann and Sergio Garcia.

The next week in Las Vegas, he was just two shots off the lead entering the final round but couldn’t make anything happen, shooting a 1-over 71 – the only round of his 18 played thus far that he’s failed to break par.

Last week in Adelaide, he was six shots back to begin the final round but posted an 8-under 64 – his lowest final round of the season and tying for the lowest in the field that day – to finish tied for third, two shots behind winner Brendan Steele.

The Sunday surge was a welcome sight. In his first four LIV Golf starts, he had done most of his scoring in the first two rounds and was just a collective 3 under in the final rounds.

“A really nice round of golf,” Rahm said of his final day in Australia. “Parts of my game felt about as good they’ve felt in a while.”

It’s been just over a year since Rahm’s last career win, the 2023 Masters. He’s made 20 worldwide starts since then, with 12 top-10 finishes. He also went undefeated at the Ryder Cup, earning three points with two wins and two draws.

Even though it’s his longest stretch without a win since playing a full schedule in 2017, Rahm is rightfully pleased with how he’s performed. He said it reminds him of the Covid-interrupted year of 2020, when he opened with four top 10s in his first nine starts before winning in back-to-back months in July and August.

He also said it reminds him of 2021, when he posted seven top-10s in his first 12 starts before winning the U.S. Open in June.

“Just hitting it really well, playing good golf and just not getting it across the line,” Rahm said. “And then I finished the years off really, really well.”

Of course, the jump to LIV Golf comes with additional considerations. Perhaps the biggest is playing 54-hole tournaments instead of the traditional 72 holes, the perception being that instead of a marathon, it’s now a sprint.

Of the four first-time individual winners this season, each had made double-digit LIV Golf starts the week of their win – Joaquin Niemann winning in his 20th start, Abraham Ancer in his 23rd, Burmester in his 18th and Steele in his 19th.

“It takes a little bit of an adjustment,” Ancer acknowledged. “It’s just a mental thing. There’s less room for error.”

Rahm said the transition to 54-hole tournaments has been no problem.

“Everybody tells you it’s a sprint and I think you can get too caught up early on in thinking you need to make birdies right away,” he said. “I think you need to play golf the way you always play golf because that’s gotten you this far. But I do agree that having one extra round would’ve been to my benefit a few times.”

The depth of the LIV Golf fields, of course, also must be factored in. Rahm is now competing against 13 other major champions, as well as emerging elite stars such as Niemann, last year’s Individual Champion Talor Gooch, Miami winner Dean Burmester and Rahm’s Ryder Cup partner and Legion teammate Tyrrell Hatton.

“He’s played some extremely solid golf,” Ancer said of Rahm, “but it isn’t easy to win out here. It’s not like you can just come out here and start racking them up.”

Yet no one doubts the individual tournament win will come soon for Rahm, perhaps even this week at Sentosa Golf Club. As usual, he’ll enter Friday’s first round as one of the favorites.

But even if it takes a while longer – winning in his native Spain at Valderrama in July would feel like the all-Australian Ripper GC team winning last week in Adelaide – Rahm will concentrate on the process, confident that his consistency will eventually pay dividends.

“You can’t be too disappointed for too long in this sport while you’re finishing top 5, top 10, because it’s going to be a very long career otherwise,” he said. “I always believe there’s something to be happy about pretty much every week, and try to focus on those. Obviously, there’s things I want to improve, but I want to focus on the positive.”

Heck, it may just be a matter of calendar perception. Of his 20 career pro wins, five have come in either January or February, particularly on the West Coast. And he’s won at least one tournament by May 1 in four of the previous seven years. He’s spoiled us by peaking early in the season.

“I’m very happy now with a lot of what I’m doing,” he said. “I can see my game trending in the right direction. Obviously, the scores are showing it. I’m just looking forward to peaking at a different time of year this year.”

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