Until the last stroke of the last hole, in the last tournament of the season on the American circuit. Only when the last ball comes in, when the American Patrick Cantlay makes a hole, does Jon Rahm admit that not today he is not going to win. In a duel between colossi, the Basque golfer finished second in the Tour Championship yesterday, the closing of the FedEx Cup, the race to define the best player of the season in the elite of the PGA Tour, with 20 under par for the -21 of Cantlay. It was a four-day fight, from power to power, only resolved by a blow, just the millimeters that separate a birdie from a pair. But that’s one difference that in golf can be everything. The distance between being first or second. From winning the biggest check in the history of the sport, 15 million dollars for Cantlay, to entering the second prize, the five million dollars with which Rahm returns.
The game reached the last hole, par five on the East Lake course in Atlanta, with everything still to be decided. Cantlay had ruled the tournament by up to four strokes ahead for some stretches, but Rahm’s resistance to defeat is worthy of the number one world rankings he has been sporting for weeks. There is no player on the circuit with the regularity of Barrika’s big man. Tournaments pass, Sundays arrive, and Spanish is almost always in the fight. Of 22 championships played this season on the American circuit, Rahm has finished in 15 of them in the top 10. The finishing touch to his victory at the US Open, his first major at age 26, has lifted him to number one in the world. “He is the best without question, without any doubt,” Rory McIlroy, one of the illustrious, has surrendered to him.
As the best culmination to his duel, Rahm even looked for the albatross and then the eagle on that 18th hole, but had to settle for a birdie that was not enough because Cantlay traced the result and thus maintained his advantage to win the FedEx and a prize of many carats. The handshake and the words that were dedicated at the end of the fight symbolized a noble struggle between two golf phenomena, an excellent kicker like Cantlay, and a very complete golfer like Rahm, now in the best moment of his sports career.
The Basque closes at the top a very strange course on the American circuit, dotted with unforeseen events and changes of plans at the last minute. He already went to the Augusta Masters right after being a father for the first time, with hardly any training, and he finished it with a fifth place. He was eighth in the PGA. In the Memorial Tournament, the Jack Nicklaus tournament, he had to leave after the third day for having tested positive. He recovered just in time for the US Open, and made history as the first Spanish winner of the US Open. And, full of confidence after being third in the British Open, he faced the Tokyo Games as the big favorite. Again a positive separated him from the competition, condemning him to a forced rest that has exploded at the end of the year.
And a season does not end on the American circuit and soon, just a week off on the calendar, another begins. The business cannot be stopped, although Jon Rahm’s calendar shows more sentimental appointments. First, from September 24 to 26 in Wisconsin (United States), the Ryder Cup that the Basque golfer discovered with passion in 2018. Then he was a rookie in Paris who was frustrated furiously because he lost the first points, and that ended up touching the sky when he defeated the myth, Tiger Woods, in his individual duel, and with his grain of sand Europe defeated the United States; Today he is the figurehead of the old continent, number one in the world, from apprentice to leader. And, having become a great star on the planet, he will fly shortly after for a double appointment in Spain: the National Open at the Villa de Madrid Country Club (from October 7 to 10) and from there to the Valderrama Masters (from October 14 to 17).
Complete Tour Championship classification.
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