“It becomes a putting contest”
SAN DIEGO — Jon Rahm doesn’t seem like a guy who lives with a lot of regrets.
Other PGA Tour pros, keen to maintain pristine images, might have regretted being the subject of a viral golf video, as Rahm was over the weekend when he decried the setup of the American Express.
“Piece of s— f— setup. Putting on contest week,” Rahm said as he left one of the greens. The outburst quickly made the rounds.
But Rahm didn’t back down, nor did he view the moment as mere frustration. Instead, it doubled.
“My reaction? I mean, the video is pretty self-explanatory,” Rahm said Tuesday, speaking to reporters ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open.
“I mean, we’re the PGA Tour, we’re the best golfers on the planet and we play on a golf course where missing the fairway means absolutely nothing. There were times when missing the fairway by an inch was worse than missing the fairway by 20 yards, that to me is a mistake. I don’t know what else to say.
When asked if he’d like to return to the colorful language, Rahm seemed reluctant to take on any kind of mulligan.
“I mean, if I knew someone was recording, I wouldn’t say it like I did, but I was thinking out loud and letting out some frustration because that’s how I felt, didn’t Isn’t it? No matter where you hit it, you’re gonna be able to hit it on the green and it becomes a putting contest, who can make the putts. That’s about it; there’s no bounty for anything else.
The video found a vein as it fueled two pre-existing beliefs: 1. PGA Tour pros should face tougher tests and 2. When Jon Rahm is hot, he should watch TV. (Attention: this colorful language is in the video below.)
And Rahm included himself among the players he felt should have been punished more severely for slap shots off the line.
“I can tell you straight away with the way I hit the ball last week and the way I put, if it was in, say, major league conditions, I probably wouldn’t have made the cut let alone finished 14th, or I shouldn’t have, I believe,” he said. “I just think it was a bit too easy for the best players in the world. That’s just my opinion.
To his credit, Rahm has a clear view of how Tour pros should be tested each week, a view consistent with traditional US Open golf – as well as the style of golf demanded by the Torrey Pines South Course. this week.
“A lot depends on the golf course, but I would like a setup that would challenge us in all aspects of the game,” he said. “I like the fairways to be narrow, I like the rough to be up high so you can’t just miss the fairway and go onto the green with whatever you want. I like the greens to be firm. They don’t don’t need to be ridiculously firm, but firm.And I would like greens at the right speed.
Rahm acknowledged that a variety of factors mean layouts will be different in different locations – he cited the difficulty of over-sowning the rough in the desert and the impossibility of stimping greens at 13 on a course like Torrey Pines – but insisted that the best configuration identifies the best player.
“I think a golf course would challenge us in all aspects of the game and that’s where I think you would find the best player, someone whose whole game is going well. And if something is missing, you have to make up for it with really good stuff on the other parts of your game,” he said.
How many configurations consistently meet this requirement? Rahm cited majors, the Players Championship and a handful of regular Tour stops. He loves Torrey Pines because it’s always tough, no matter the year. Same with the Genesis Invitational Riviera host, Memorial Muirfield Village and Colonial host, which doesn’t have a rough or extreme long run, but still proves a tough test.
Rahm seemed particularly comfortable answering questions on the subject, and for good reason. He’s the world’s No. 1 player. He is a great champion. He settled happily into married life and fatherhood. The combination seems to have led to the assurance on the podium. Particularly in Torrey Pines.
It’s a particularly comfortable venue for Rahm, a former Farmers champion as well as the defending US Open champion at this same venue. He and his family visit San Diego regularly, he said, and remembered getting engaged to his now wife Kelley on the trails along the course.
“You know, that was the one and only time I went on the trails,” Rahm said. “I feel like it’s this thing, okay, where nowadays you’re expected to have this massive movie proposal and you see it on social media and they have this massive production . I told him for years, ‘When we do, we’ll be in sweatpants.’ She didn’t believe me. So actually we were in sweatpants on a hike and it turned out great.
As for the course itself? Rahm thinks that meets his requirements for a PGA Tour test.
“There are golf courses that are going to be tough no matter what,” he said. “Like this one.”