After a year that included his first major and climb to current World No. 1, Jon Rahm wants more: ‘I’m going to beat it.’

The calendar may have flipped, but Jon Rahm still has fond memories of last year’s impressive display of consistency that rocketed him to his current spot as World No. 1. When told by a PGA Tour media official at the start of his press conference that he had recorded 15 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour last year, Rahm interrupted and corrected that tally.

“I’m going to say 16 with an asterisk,” he said, alluding to the Memorial, where he held a six-stroke lead after 54 holes before having to withdraw from the tournament due to testing positive for COVID-19. “I’m pretty sure I would have finished top 10 that week, you know. So let’s say 16.”

It was a remarkable 2021 for Rahm, who bounced back two weeks later from his first positive test to win the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and held on to the top spot in the world when Collin Morikawa failed to close on Sunday at the Hero World Challenge in December. So how does the 27-year-old Spaniard plan to build on such a sensational year?

“My goal is to beat it,” Rahm said. “My goal is always to do better each year. But, you know, it’s hard to say. Because I’ve had such a consistent year and had one win, but I could tell you right now I would gladly take a bit more of inconsistency but have more than one win.”

Winning multiple times is an admirable goal for Rahm and it likely will require him to do so to stave off Morikawa, FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay, former top dog Dustin Johnson, and several other budding stars with sights set on becoming No. 1. In fact, Rahm needs to win or finish second this week otherwise there are five scenarios in play for Morikawa to unseat him.

“I’m No. 1 because of how I played in the past, so if I want to stay here I got to keep playing at the level and trying to get better,” Rahm said. “At the end of the day, I focus on myself, right? I try to improve my game and improve my level of golf. If I can do that and play the way I know I can play, everything else should take care of itself. I’m not thinking constantly, ‘Oh, he’s No. 2 or he’s coming for me, I need to do this or that.’ No, I’m trying to play the best that I can and hopefully win a tournament.”

Rahm is back at Kapalua in Hawaii to make his fifth career start in the Sentry Tournament of Champions this week, where he finished runner-up in his debut in 2018 and tied for seventh last year. It’s a spot where he’s experienced some rust before and struggled at times to adjust to the slower greens than those that he had practiced on back home in Arizona. But to hear Rahm tell it, the golfer who adjusted to changing equipment companies last season, becoming a first-time father, being sidetracked by positive COVID tests not once but twice, and suffering burnout post-Ryder Cup is raring to go.

“I’m happy,” he said. “Mind and body are rested. I’m ready to go for the year.”

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By: Adam Schupak
Title: After a year that included his first major and climb to current World No. 1, Jon Rahm wants more: ‘I’m going to beat it.’
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Published Date: Wed, 05 Jan 2022 12:00:23 +0000

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