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As Jon Rahm stood on the 17th green at Oakmont Country club, he knew his opportunity to play the last two rounds of the U.S. Open was up in the air.
Rahm was at 6-over par, right on the projected cut-line, and a birdie would provide more clarity as to if he would play the final two rounds.
Anxiously awaiting Rahm’s putt were a group of 11 people which included his parents, girlfriend and his teacher.
Rahm did make the putt moving him to +5 overall. His father Edorta was quick to clap, pump both of his fists and shout encouraging words in Spanish.
“My mind was so clear at that point,” Rahm said. “I got into my own zone. In my mind, there was no chance I was missing that putt. I don’t know what happened. I can’t explain it. It just happened. It’s probably the best putt I’ve made in the last month.”
Rahm is from Spain and it was Edorta who dropped him off at the airport and told his son that golf was the future. In order for that to happen, coming to America would help shape that future.
The move paid off in a big way as Rahm learned English while also improving his golf game, a win-win for the 21-year-old Barrika, Spain native.
Now Edorta offered two thumbs up and a smile after being told that his son made the U.S. Open cut.
“Every time I hit a good shot they’re yelling louder than anybody, that makes me feel great,” said Rahm. “Not only they came all the way here to see me, but to make a cut for my parents, after graduating, is probably the most special thing I could do for them. It’s a really special moment, especially at Oakmont.”
As if seeing the people he loved most was not enough motivation, Rahm also put on an outfit which resembled Seve Ballesteros in regards to colors.
This message was right in front of him and pushed him to succeed.
“I put this on on purpose, knowing that if at any time I felt like anything was against me, I would look at my clothes and be like, What would Seve do,” said Rahm. “That’s what I did on 18, ended up with an up-and-down. That’s what I did on 9, when it was not the easiest lie on the bunker, and when I got the up-and-down. It was mostly to help me keep my mind strong and hit it. That’s the whole purpose of putting it on today.”
It has been a busy time for Rahm who is the first person to ever receive the Ben Hogan Award twice. The award recognizes the top collegiate golfer. Rahm also received the Jack Nicklaus Award, this after playing in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments.
“It’s like a humbling process,” he said. “Even if I won all those things, I’m human and I shot 6 over yesterday. So it helps that I have my esteem or my ego extremely high. It makes me realize that I can have a future in this game. It’s nice to look back and see all what I’ve done. It motivates me to keep working harder to keep on accomplishing things like that.”
This will be Rahm’s last start as an amateur as next week he will travel to Bethesda, MD, turning pro to play in the Quicken Loans National.
For his last act prior to turning pro however, he was the lone amateur out of the 11 in the field to make the cut.
“I can say it’s a huge, huge accomplishment,” he said. “Extremely honored to have done it, and it’s kind of humbling to see how many great amateurs are playing here, almost national champion from Texas, Scottie Scheffler, played a great round; Charlie Danielson; Nick Hardy; U.S. amateur finalist, Derek Bard. Just a lot of high quality golf, and to be the only one makes me realize how good of a day I had today. I’m extremely proud of it.”
Rahm teed off with Bubba Watson and Justin Hicks in round three.
It looks like Rahm has been holding his own, using the two Major Championship rounds to his advantage as he holed a 132 yard approach for eagle on the par-5 12th hole.
“It’s a great memory to have,” Rahm said after the round. “I like looking back at that because it’s a special moment to make an eagle, and probably one of the hardest par 5s I’ve ever played. I was discussing with my caddie Ben, I’m like, ‘Is it worth it?’ I know I can fly that bunker that’s 35 yards short of the green and maybe trickle it up there, but is it worth it? He said that if you can hit it past the pin, it makes sense. I said, ‘the odds of doing that on such a narrow green makes no sense. I’m going to lay up something to a full shot and then be able to stop it there.”
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 18, 2016