My First Year on the PGA TOUR
By Jon Rahm
The path to the PGA TOUR is a grind, but once you make it, there is nothing more rewarding. When I was 13 years old, growing up in Spain, I remember watching Seve play and I wanted to be just like him. From that point on, I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps and take my game to the next level. I made it my goal and dream to compete at the highest level on the PGA TOUR.
I can remember countless days growing up back home beating balls on the range until it was dark, hitting balls in the snow, hitting balls until I had blisters on my hands. I knew that if I put the work in, it would pay off.
Luckily, I’ve always been an ambitious person, so I knew that if I was going to go down this path, I was going to have to be 100% dedicated. On both the good days and the bad days, I had—and still have—this internal drive to elevate my game to make sure I remained focused on pushing myself every day.
When I turned pro after the U.S. Open last year, I knew I only had a few tournaments to make enough money to get my card for next season. I definitely felt like there was some added pressure on me since I was coming out as the top-ranked amateur. The quickest thing I learned is just how important one shot can be.
In college, one shot may drop you one spot down the leaderboard or it may not even move your position at all. On the PGA TOUR, it can be the difference between a Top-10 or a Top-20. Every shot you play is crucial, so it’s hard to get that out of your head and just play the game. Luckily for me, I was coming off a solid finish as low amateur in the U.S. Open and kept my good play rolling into Congressional. It felt great to know that I could compete with those guys and finish in the Top-5, but coming up a few shots short of winning just made me want it that much more.
A few weeks later, I went into the RBC Canadian Open knowing that if I had another Top-5 finish, I should make enough money to be a full-time PGA TOUR member for the 2017-2018 season.
For me, I love that I controlled my own destiny. I didn’t have to worry about what other people were doing, I just focused on my game, tried my best to stay in the moment, and with my 2nd place finish that week, I made enough money to earn my PGA TOUR card.
My hard work paid off and it was one of the most rewarding moments in my life. I couldn’t wait to get 2017 underway and play in all the tournaments I grew up watching on TV… it was time to get to work.
Taking Home My First Title
Heading into this season, it was such a relief knowing that I had 30+ events to keep my card and move up the money list to try and get into some top tournaments. My 2nd start of the season turned out better than I could have dreamed. I was a few shots back going into the final round at Torrey Pines and since that course is so tough, I knew that if I could get myself in position heading into the back nine, I would have a chance to win.
When I got to the 18th tee, I was tied for the lead. I knew that if I made birdie, worst-case scenario, I would probably be in a playoff. I hit 2 good shots to give myself a look at eagle on the back of the green, but the putt had about 3 breaks in it and was straight down hill. My caddie and I picked out a spot about 15 feet short of the hole that I was trying to get it to stop at. When the ball went in, my emotions were all over the place. I couldn’t believe that I finally accomplished my dream and won on the PGA TOUR. I was a PGA TOUR champion. Then, it kicked in that I qualified for the Masters, The Players, and other top events I’ve always dreamt of playing. It was truly a dream come true. The hard work paid off, it was my time, and I couldn’t be happier.
What I’ve Learned
There is definitely a big learning curve going from the college level to the PGA TOUR. I think the biggest key that has helped me progress and get to the next level is simple: patience.
After I accomplished my goal and got my card, it really relieved some pressure and freed me up. I knew that now I had about 25-30 events to keep improving and compete week in, week out. One of the biggest keys for me is that I learned early not to get down on myself. I play with a lot of passion and set high expectations for myself, but I know I need to harness my emotions and use them as a positive instead of a negative. If you watch the greatest players in the world, they never get down on themselves. You can’t tell if they are 3-over or 3-under, they keep their emotions in check and stay focused on the next shot, not the last shot. Everyone on the PGA TOUR is going to have times where they’re playing good and tournaments where they’re playing bad. The path to the PGA TOUR is different for everyone and there are highs and lows every player will go through. You just have to remember to believe in yourself and trust the process. I knew that if I put in the work and got better every day the rest would take care of itself.
I always made it my goal to aim high and never settle. To set high standards and not stop until they were accomplished. My goal has always been to win, to compete against all of the best players in the world to see how my game stands up against the likes of DJ, Jason, Sergio, and Justin.
I learned not to put more pressure on myself because this game is hard enough. I learned not to let doubt creep in. There’s one thing that nobody can measure or take away from you: your heart and your will to win. I knew that if I wanted it, I could achieve it. Just put in the work, trust myself, and good things will happen.
I look forward to competing against the best players in the world this year and battling it out on Sundays. I’ll continue to keep my head up, keep grinding, and always believe in myself. I look forward to my journey ahead this year and for the years to come.
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