World No. 1 Jon Rahm’s abnormal 2021 continues this week in BMW Championship at Caves Valley

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – From becoming a father for the first time to being the first from his homeland of Spain to win the U.S. Open, from overcoming two bouts with COVID-19 to getting through Hurricane Henri, this year has been anything but ordinary for Jon Rahm.

“I’m not going to lie; I’m looking for just a normal tournament week at this point,” Rahm said Tuesday ahead of his preparations for the BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club. “Just one week where it’s just uneventful. Golf aside, uneventful. We don’t have hurricanes, COVID or anything related like that.”

It’s not that Rahm, 26, wants someone to start playing violins in sympathy. The world No. 1 is forever grateful for the riches in his life and in his bank account that have piled up, and he knows the world has and continues to suffer from an infectious disease that took hold in 2020.

But the first eight months of 2021 would have taken down lesser men. Good thing Rahm is built like a brickhouse with a mentality to match.

“Luckily I can say there’s a lot more positives than negatives,” he said. “There were some moments that could have taken me down that, if anything, lifted me up and pushed me towards greater things.

“You know, the overall condition that the world is in with COVID, I can be very glad that nobody in my direct family has had any problems and that hasn’t been a stress, when I know a lot of people have been suffering. And even in my case, right, when I got it, nobody around me got it and everybody is healthy.

“It could have been a lot worse than it’s been; I can tell you that.”

For instance, Rahm, after being told he had COVID just after putting the finishing touches to his third round in the Memorial where he held the 54-hole lead by six shots, might not have recovered in time to win the U.S. Open 15 days later.

And he could have wallowed in sorrow for weeks after another positive COVID test knocked him out of the Tokyo Summer Games a month later.

But considering his year, he’s on the rebound again this week at Caves Valley. His latest drama-filled week ended Monday when he squandered a two-shot lead with four to play in the Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club in storm ravaged New Jersey. Hurricane Henri postponed the final round to Monday and Rahm looked well on his way to victory before bogeys on the 15th and the 18th, coupled by his inability to birdie the drivable 16th, dropped him to third place, a shot out of the playoff between eventual winner Tony Finau and Cameron Smith.

Finau also overtook Rahm for the points lead in the FedEx Cup.

Rahm said Monday he didn’t have much time to digest what happened after he finished playing, especially after seeing his son, Kepa. But he’ll get around to it. Looking at the overall picture, Rahm is in a good place. A great place. And one of his goals this week is to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time.

This will his fourth attempt to successfully defend. Following his maiden PGA Tour victory in the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open, he finished in a tie for 29th in 2018. After winning the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge, he was sixth in 2019. And then there was the Memorial this year, where he was six clear with 18 to play after winning Jack Nicklaus’ annual bash in 2020.

Last year at Olympia Fields south of Chicago, he curled in a 66-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Dustin Johnson in the BMW Championship.

Thus, he’s motivated and knows he’s playing well.

“I’m confident,” he said. “To be fair, I’m still a little thinking about what I could have done better already yesterday, right; it’s still very fresh. Just think about and analyze what I did, what my thought process was in each moment and what I could have done better and what I did really well.

“I feel like I played better than my score was showing, and at the end just a couple of bad swings really cost me. There’s a lot more positives to take out of it than negatives to be fair. There’s a lot of good things I did last week, and hopefully I can keep those going on, and again, what is life if not a process of learning from one’s mistakes.”

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