In November 2017, after Jon Rahm’s rookie year, the Spaniard compared favorably to PGA Tour stars Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth during their first seasons.
At that time, Rahm was better than those players off the tee, was the second-best iron player in the group, had a solid short game and was the best putter. Having just turned 23, he ranked No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
On Dec. 2 in the Bahamas, Rahm won the Hero World Challenge, a no-cut event hosted by Tiger Woods that brings together one of the most elite fields in golf. With the taste of champagne probably still fresh after helping Europe win the Ryder Cup in Paris, a 69-65 weekend gave Rahm a four-shot win over Tony Finau and earned him a $1 million check. That money does not go toward his official earnings for the 2018-19 season, but Rahm and his accountant probably don’t care.
Before his season-ending win, Rahm’s year had plenty of ups and downs.
On the bright side, he won the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, had five top-10 PGA Tour finishes and placed in the top five at the Masters and the PGA Championship.
But he missed the cut at the U.S. Open and British Open, and his strokes gained putting average slipped by 0.37 strokes, falling to -0.087 (135th). His iron game was not as sharp, either, leading to a fall in strokes gained total from an elite 1.871 (fourth) to 1.026 (19th).
So Rahm’s game is still solid and he is ranked No. 6 in the OWGR. How does the 24-year-old’s career compare to other elite players at that age? The chart below gives some perspective.
Looking at wins, top-10 finishes, earnings and position in the OWGR, Rahm is much farther along than Johnson was. And he has earned more money than Johnson, Fowler and Thomas.
The player whose results most closely match Rahm’s is Day, who has won two World Golf Championships, a Players Championship and the 2015 PGA Championship.
The only player who was significantly better than Rahm when he turned 24 was Spieth, who counted three major wins among his 11 titles, as well as a FedEx Cup championship and a $10 million prize that came with it.
Among the seven players in the table, five have reached the No. 1 spot on the OWGR: Day, Johnson, McIlroy, Spieth and Thomas. Rahm reached No. 2 after winning last season’s CareerBuilder Challenge.
With experience and improved putting, Rahm has the power to contend at Augusta National. Bethpage Black, site of May’s PGA Championship, could be ideally suited for Rahm too. Pebble Beach plays host to next year’s U.S. Open, and last year Rahm finished sixth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, so that fabled course also could set up nicely for him.
At 24, Rahm appears to have made himself a fixture in the OWGR’s top 10 while his statistics and results compare favorably with golfers who have won majors and attained the No. 1 ranking. Gwk
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