Just two weeks ago, Jon Rahm was worrying how his positive Covid-19 result would potentially affect his family – in particular, his two-month old son.
Fast forward to today and Rahm is a major winner.
The 26-year-old won the US Open at Torrey Pines on Sunday, finishing a shot ahead of Louis Oosthuizen to claim the Spaniard’s debut major.
His victory comes just 15 days after he was forced to withdraw after the third round of the Memorial Tournament with a six-shot lead after he tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I believe that from the biggest setbacks, you can get some of the biggest breakthroughs and I think a lot of people believed or thought I was angry at the situation than I really was,” Rahm told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell.
“I never blamed anybody. I was never resentful for anything, these are things I can’t control and we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
“I’ve had a lot of loved ones and a lot of friends suffer and even pass away from this so my first thought was: ‘I hope it doesn’t get bad, my health doesn’t get bad, and I hope nobody else in my family, especially my two-month old son, has it.’
“That’s where my mind was at. When everybody else tested negative, I stayed positive mentally knowing that some good things were to come. I’m a big believer in karma and stayed really positive knowing that something was going to come that was going to be good.”
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A special place
Even before Sunday’s triumph, Torrey Pines had a special significance for Rahm.
As well as San Diego being his favorite city, it was the place his wife Kelley loved before they met as her family used to vacation there.
According to Rahm, Kelley actually caddied for him on a Monday qualifier for the Farmers Insurance Open when they were dating, despite having “no idea about golf.”
Torrey Pines was also the site of his first PGA Tour victory, when he won the Farmers Insurance Open in 2017.
Rahm proposed to Kelley on the Torrey Pines trails, referring to the course as their “favorite spot” after his US Open victory on the course.
“Every time we come we feel relaxed, we’re just naturally happy no matter what’s going on,” he explained.
“And including us two, my parents as well, it’s non-negotiable for them, this is usually a date on the calendar they never miss and neither do her parents.
“And the fact that they were able to be here for this one as well later in the year and get it done – it’s, it’s what makes it so much more special. That’s why I said, there’s something special in the air today and I believed it.”
This major victory is likely to taste even sweeter for Rahm after the recent arrival of his son, Kepa.
It is his first win since the birth of his son in April, and Rahm made sure to mark the occasion, celebrating with Kelley and Kepa after his victory was confirmed on Sunday.
With his win also falling on Father’s Day – Rahm’s first as a dad – it was a fairytale few days for the Spaniard; one that is being capped off with a family trip to Ken’s Sushi Workshop to celebrate.
“To be here, with him, be my first win as a dad, with him here present and being there on 18 with Kelley walking up with him [Kepa] in her arms, at that moment whatever was going around me just disappears,” he said.
“And what I’ve done and what I do in the future absolutely won’t matter compared to what they matter to me and how much love I have for them.
“So that’s what I’ll keep telling him, no matter what I accomplish in life and no matter what happened around us this afternoon, he was still the most important thing and forever will be.
“And I don’t know if he’ll ever get to understand the magnitude of this moment for myself and for us, but I’ll try to make sure he understands.”
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Rahm had to beat off stiff competition to claim his breakthrough major victory, with a pack of former champions and up-and-coming youngsters hot on his tails.
However, with his first major in the bag and back as golf’s world No. 1, Rahm is now hungry for more.
“This first one is a big load off your shoulders,” said the 26-year-old. “Especially when you’ve reached No. 1 in the world, playing at a high quality level like I have the last few years, you get put on that ‘best to never win a major list’ very quickly. I wanted nothing more than to get off that list as early as possible.
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“And I think because of what happened a couple of weeks ago, I had an excuse. I had bit of an excuse in case I played bad – I had Covid, I couldn’t practice, I wasn’t ready, it’s a U.S. Open – blah, blah blah.
“I kind of came out with a different attitude and not that I expected to win but I just went out there, played the best golf possible and played amazing the first three rounds and today all of that combined to an amazing day.”