ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Eager to delve into the history of the Old Course in St. Andrews, Jon Rahm attempted to capture the mastermind of the great Lee Trevino at the golf course’s home this week.
Rahm was fascinated to learn, for example, that the stepped course was supposed to be played clockwise rather than counter-clockwise.
“An interesting bit of history,” Rahm said on Tuesday, before adding with a smile, “I don’t know if that’s true.”
Indeed, Rahm would like to use some of his spare time at the British Open to visit a few bookstores in St. Andrews in search of more golf history. He said there were too many people in town to do so, however, so he’s relying on some of his own memories to motivate him ahead of a bid for a second major title.
And it’s no surprise that we stand out.
“I don’t want to take the obvious,” he said, “but 1984 was very special for the Spaniards. I’ll go with that – that image of Seve celebrating. That’s an iconic image not only for us but for the world of golf.
This image, of the beloved Seve Ballesteros pushing his arm twice in the air before walking off the 18th green with his arm around his caddy, marked the second of his three victories at golf’s oldest major championship.
No Spaniard has won it since. Rahm has long dreamed of emulating his compatriot and idol.
“It really is the pinnacle of golf,” he said. “I don’t think it’s better than winning at St. Andrews.
“No offense to any other tournament in the world. This is the oldest championship on the oldest course and where it all started.
Rahm’s first and so far only competitive rounds at the Old Course came during the Dunhill Links Championship on the European Tour in 2019. He learned the vagaries of the wind off St. Andrews Bay, l risk and reward element of course, and – of course – not doing it right.
He has since become the highest ranked player in the world and validated that status by winning his first major title at the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2021.
A second major seemed to be within reach in his title defense at Brookline last month, when he entered the final round with a whim even though he was “looking for his swing”.
A closing 74 dropped him to a tie for 12th, and he arrives at St. Andrews at No. 3 in the world rankings and on the back of a tie for 55th at the Scottish Open the last week on the links of the Renaissance Club.
Finishing third at the Royal St. George’s last year was his best performance in five British Opens and, for Rahm, there would be no better place to lift the claret pot than at St. Andrews in the 150th edition of the event.
Jack Nicklaus, who won at St. Andrews in 1970 and 1978, once said, “If you want to be a player that people will remember, you have to win the St. Andrews Open.”
Rahm can see where Nicklaus is coming from.
“It can almost take your career to another level,” he said, “just because it’s such a great place.”
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