Jon Rahm secured his first victory of the season in dramatic fashion at the inaugural Mexico Open on Sunday.
Having not won a PGA Tour event since the U.S. Open last summer, the Spaniard was pushed to the wire to end his dry spell, surviving a late flurry from American pair Brandon Wu and Tony Finau to take a one-shot victory.
The World No. 2 arrived in Vidanta Vallarta as the favorite and played true to predictions with a commanding performance across the first three rounds, opening with a seven-under 64 as he headed into the final day with a two-shot lead.
“Thursday, Friday I played amazing and I was in incredible control of my game, it seemed like nothing really could go wrong,” Rahm said during his post-tournament press conference.
However, scintillating Sunday performances from Wu and Finau – who had begun the final round seven shots adrift of Rahm – left Rahm facing a nervy back-nine.
After a bogey on the 10th, three pars either side of a birdie on the 14th left Rahm needing to par on the par-5 final hole. Despite driving his tee shot into the rough, Rahm recovered to par, finishing two-under 69 and clinching his seventh PGA Tour title.
“Pretty stressful weekend, all the way to the end,” Rahm told CBS.
“I did not think that having a par-5 where a fade off the tee shot was required I’d be stressing this much, but I got it done at the end.”
Victory in Mexico means that Rahm now has at least one win in each of his last six professional seasons, as the 27-year-old looks to reel in Scottie Scheffler at the top of the world rankings.
Return to No. 1?
The American leapfrogged Rahm to top spot and has enjoyed an incredible start to 2022, triumphing at the Masters last month for his first career major after a run of three wins in five tournaments.
“It feels good to get this first win done,” added Rahm. “Early in the season I had a couple chances and I couldn’t close it out. Today was a battle but I got it done.
“My first wire-to-wire victory. Even though it was hard at the end I’ll take it,” he added.
He will have the chance to make up ground on Scheffler at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills on May 19, but Rahm also eying an impact beyond titles.
Reflecting on the legacy of his hero and compatriot Seve Ballesteros, Rahm believes he can help continue to grow the game in Mexico.
“I play because of him [Seve] and nowadays we have a much bigger reach, the PGA Tour is becoming a bigger tour and with social media we’re worldwide stars – bigger than they were in the past – and I feel like I can make some impact in Mexico as well,” Rahm said.
“You can even see golf growing in Mexico. It’s a true honor to be able to come here in this first edition of the event and be the champion.”