At 12:15 on April 3, Jon Rahm began to win his first big. That day and at that time Kepa Cahill Rahm was born, the first son of the golfer and his wife, Kelley. A few days later the Basque played the Augusta Masters. And although he came close to victory again, fifth in the fight for the green jacket, the seed had germinated in his mind that months later would make him the winner of the US Open. A change of mentality, another degree of maturity in the accelerated growth of this big man who at 26 has lived through everything: the promise at 13 that he would be number one in the world, the departure of his Barrika to the Blume residence in Madrid, the great leap to the United States, the arrival to the elite, the great successes … All at breakneck speed. Jon Rahm has always wanted to take over the world, and he has always expressed it publicly, even though those dreams of greatness could be confused with a certain bravado (or bilbainada, as he says). And when things have not turned out as he intended, a bad shot, a bad round, sometimes even a second place, that passionate character has emerged that over time he has learned to channel better. Without ceasing to be himself.
In this human and golf learning, little Kepa Cahill has played an important role, according to Rahm, who proudly says that at six months the baby is advanced and is about to crawl. “Kelley told me: ‘When you are a father, you will win your first big.’ She saw that that would make me better. And that’s how it has been, ”said the world number one on Tuesday at the Valderrama course, where the Estrella Damm Andalucía Masters will be held tomorrow (the first day at Movistar Golf from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.), second tournament followed by Jon in Spain after of the Open played in Madrid. “Being a father has made me a better person and I think it has also made me a better player. Since April there has been quite a change in me mentally. Now I talk less with Joseba [del Carmen, su preparador mental]. Since 2014 we have done quite a bit of work. Today I still care a lot about things, but if one day everything goes wrong and I’m in a bad mood, I see Kepa and everything changes. For him it does not matter how he played, I am his father, I change his diaper and I put him to sleep. It helps me see that golf is not everything. They had already told me. You don’t know how much your parents love you until you are a parent. That is why today I have a greater degree of appreciation for my family ”.
Relativizing the number of strokes in a round of golf, be it a big one or the Spanish Open, has been easier with Kepa in his arms. Thinking about his son (who is now in the United States with Kelley) has also helped him to leave behind the frustration of not winning the National Open after a bad day on Saturday and a comeback that did not come on Sunday. The title made him especially excited because it meant matching the three national championships of Seve Ballesteros and because of the tremendous pull of fans (42,371 attended the Country Club during the four days) that it generated. “The difficult thing was that the people’s desire for me to play well and my desire to play well came together. It is difficult to handle so much energy because it has never happened to me to play in front of so many thousands of people watching almost only me. I remember when Tiger had his father sick and a lot of pressure was put on to win for him at the Masters. His father told him never to play for anyone but him again. It happened to me at the Open. I wanted to play and win for the country more than for myself. And I got out of myself ”. It was 17th, six strokes from Rafa Cabrera Bello.
The revenge can come in Valderrama, where he is celebrating his 20th week as number one in the world. Curiously the field where it all began. Jon was two years old when a friend of Edorta, his father, was invited to the magical 1997 Ryder edition that Seve turned into a historic victory against the United States. That friend returned so enthusiastic that he convinced his colleagues, with whom he skied, played paddle tennis and climbed mountains, to try golf. “And because of that family my family started playing and that’s why I’m here,” Rahm explained. “Now it would be the only one to win at Valderrama because of the history of this field, because of how well Sergio García has played here and because it is a very difficult field in which any problem you have with your game will be accentuated.”
On Monday night, Jon Rahm had dinner with his friend Aritz Aduriz, former Athletic striker. “He is preparing me for when I go to Bilbao,” Rahm said; “I was already surprised when I went out in Madrid to eat some omelette and ham and they recognized me. Hopefully now there are children who end up being golfers because they see me. Although I already said it, I think that I am the same boy from Barrika ”.
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