AUGUSTA: “No man, no law, no war can stop him.” This was said about Sylvester Stallone’s iconic character Rambo in “First Blood.” It also strangely applies to Spain’s Jon Rahm, lovingly called “Rahmbo” by his fans, who won the 87th Masters on Sunday evening by a massive margin of four shots.
The victory is even more impressive considering he started the tournament with a four-putt double bogey on his very first hole. He later kept pace with Brooks Koepka, the LIV International Jeddah champion and leader going into the final round, despite getting the worst end of the draw as a treacherous cold front moved above Augusta and dumped nearly three inches of rain in two days.
An elite field, a demanding course and filthy weather could not combine to stop Rahm. Quite remarkably, on the birthday anniversary of Spainish legend Seve Ballesteros, the 28-year-old became the fourth man from his country to slip into the Green Jacket, a symbol of supremacy in world golf.
Here are six things we learned from Augusta National Golf Club over the past week.
Believe him: Jon Rahm is the best
Six wins and four top 10s from his last 14 starts: That is insane form for anyone who does not answer to the name of Tiger Woods. Since September, Rahm has been saying he is the best golfer in the world and how poorly the official world rankings reflect his status. Not only has the Masters win validated his claim, it also makes him the official world No. 1
Those LIV Golf players can play
At least one debate is settled now. The LIV Golf stars can hold their own against the PGA Tour players. And those who had questioned their determination, skill, ambitions and motivation to play good golf were forced to eat humble Georgian pie.
Phil Mickelson and Koepka tied for second place and Patrick Reed was a shot further behind in a tie for fourth. A total of 12 players from LIV’s roster of 18 made the cut.
Rory: Don’t give up on yourself
Even if the fans seem to be giving up on Rory McIlroy and his ability and resolve to win the Masters and complete his career grand slam, the Northern Irishman absolutely needs to keep the faith. As he said himself before the start of the tournament, all the ingredients are there, it is just a matter of putting it in the pot and letting it stew. Even the spider in that story about Scottish King Robert Bruce fell 17 times before building his web. Next year will only be McIlroy’s 16th visit to Augusta.
Woods continues to defy the odds
The cold, wet and windy conditions were never going to be good for Tiger Woods and the great man had to withdraw from the tournament on Sunday following a recurrence of his painful plantar fasciitis problem. Walking remains a concern for Woods, but he still managed to make his 23rd straight cut as a professional — tying the record held by Gary Player and Fred Couples. It seems stupid to call Tiger a fair weather player, but it would be prudent for the 15-time major champion to pick and choose events where the chances of rain and cold are minimal for at least the next year or so.
For Phil, this is the country for old men
Mickelson has always believed in swimming against the tide. So, as golf gets younger and younger, he is proof that at 52 he can still be competitive on the tour. It was a thrilling final round by the three-time Masters champion, when everyone was doubting his ability. With all that is going on between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, the tied second place finish also brings him back into the conversation in a positive manner.
Theegala and Bennett are the future
A side story at the demanding Augusta National is the battle among the first-timers for the best rookie prize. This year it was American Indian Sahith Reddy Theegala. With a sensational 67 on the final day, which included a chip-in on the 16th hole that reminded everyone of Woods’ effort in 2005, Theegala finished ninth and showcased once again why he was the No. 1 college player in the US. Also worth following in the future is college star Sam Bennett, who was the only amateur to make the cut.