Jon Rahm was one year old when Tiger Woods turned pro. It was August 1996 and eight months later, at the 97 Masters, Woods inaugurated with his first great an era that today threatens to end. The multiple fracture of the right leg after a traffic accident this Tuesday puts the myth before the abyss of withdrawal. Not only because of the injury itself, from which if all goes well, he could recover to return to competition at the end of the course, but because he finishes off a medical history incompatible with elite exercise: a 45-year-old patient, with five operations of back (the last very recent) and five knee. A body full of seams. The legend reels and the golf world kneels before the 15-great champion. Because of how golf changed in absolutely all its aspects (the game itself, the physical and mental preparation, the media impact, the list of winnings …), surely there is no athlete in the history of the sport who has revolutionized more than one discipline. As if he were the lion king revered atop the mountain, today's golfers pay tribute to the man they grew up watching play, and win, and to whom they owe enjoying this time of opulence.
The low-key love story of Tiger Woods for four years
An example of the Tiger factor is Kevin Kisner. The 37-year-old American golfer is 34th in the world. Last month he admitted that he did not see himself winning any tournaments. "So why play?" They asked. He couldn't be more sincere: "Because they give a lot of money to finish in 20th place." That's thanks to Tiger Woods. World number one Dustin Johnson has amassed $ 58 million in tournament winnings alone, endorsements aside. Jon Rahm, today number two, adds almost 20 million in five years as a professional. The Basque golfer also thanked Tiger's legacy, before participating from this Thursday in the first World Championship of 2021, the WGC Workday Championship. “I am very shocked. My first thought is that a little over a year ago we lost Kobe Bryant. We can be thankful that Tiger is still with us. Hopefully this will come out well, and I'm not necessarily thinking of seeing him play again, which I hope, but that he can have a normal life and be healthy. He has given so much to this sport, he has done so much for us, that every day we will remember Tiger Woods. His impact is so great that even if he doesn't hit another shot, it will have a great relevance in golf, ”said Rahm, 26.
Rahm is a golf encyclopedia. Know its history in depth. He can remember a full lap of Seve at a British Open and hardly missed a statistic from Tiger Woods. With the Tiger he has played in the Augusta Masters, and defeated him in an individual duel in the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris (he celebrated the last putt very effusively and apologized to Woods). "I hope I can play again and have the retirement that dreams, like the one we all dream of, crossing the Saint Andrews bridge on the 18th and saying goodbye in the right way", said Rahm -Saint Andrews will host the 150th edition in July 2022 of the British Open-. “I would love to see him win again. But being realistic, I just hope he has a healthy life. Your body has been through a lot in the last five years and now this. The trauma from the accident can have consequences on other parts of the body … I just think that he can get out of this and enjoy his life as a parent and as a golf ambassador. When he retires, I feel like he will have done a lot for us and I hope we can do something for him. ”
Changes in the game
On the sporting level, Rahm will play his fifth tournament of the year after adding two seventh places so far (Sentry Tournament and Farmers Insurance Open), a 13th (Phoenix Open) and a fifth (Genesis Invitational). All this in the midst of a change in material and brand, from Taylor Made to Callaway, which is forcing him to make some adjustments.
“I have adapted perfectly to the clubs. The ball reacts differently and I still have to get used to it. It is very similar in the long game to the ball I used before, but up to the 8 iron, probably more at the 9 and with the wedge , the ball is thrown a little lower, with more spin, and gives me a little more variety on some approach shots. At the 150-yard margin, I was losing shots to the best on the circuit. In the rest, it was on par. It is one of the reasons why I expected this change, to improve in that aspect. Taylor Made's ball flies very well, just like Callaway's, but by giving a little more spin it allows me to have more variety of shots and choose the right one. Spin more, react differently. It is a matter of playing and testing. I'm sure I improve in the short game. It is still early. I hope I have a very high ceiling. ”