Nassau – Jon Rahm says a putting tip last August from tournament host Tiger Woods helped the Spaniard to storm his way to a four-shot success at the Hero World Challenge on Sunday.
Rahm, 24, was never challenged over the final round, shooting a bogey-free 65 for a 20-under par total on the Albany course.
The win is Rahm’s third success this season and a seventh victory in his short two-year pro career and in the process sees Rahm move to a career high No. 6 on the world rankings.
Rahm had shared the lead on both day two and day three and capped his closing round with three birdies in four holes from the sixth.
Last September, Rahm was drawn in the Ryder Cup Sunday singles against boyhood idol Woods and delivered Europe their much-needed first point with two and one triumph.
Now Rahm has his name on Woods’ Hero World Challenge trophy.
“That Sunday with Tiger is one of the most emotional, most important moments in my golf career,” said Rahm.
“I started crying when I was shaking his hand because that meant so much to me to play against Tiger Woods.
“A couple of months later to win his event – his Foundation’s event along with Hero, this is really special.”
And it was the putting tip on the practice green at East Lake that has now sees Rahm become the first Spanish winner of the Hero World Challenge.
“When we were at East Lake Tiger was putting next to me. I just can’t putt on Bermuda as I had grown up in Spain on poa annua,” said Rahm.
“Tiger kind of laughed and said ‘it’s all about feel out there’. In presenting me the trophy he said, ‘Hey, that’s a pretty good performance from someone who can’t putt on Bermuda greens.'”
American Tony Finau holed a dramatic 10-footer for birdie at the last in a score of 69 for second place at 16-under and in the process denying Justin Rose from returning to World No. 1.
Rose, who eagled 15 in a last round 65, had been sharing second place in 15-under par and the assurance of again becoming world No 1 only for Finau to pull the rug out from under the Englishman.
“It’s not a huge goal for me to be No. 1, but when you have these opportunities you want to take them,” said Rose.
And Woods rounded-off his full-season return to competition with a tired-looking 73 to finish 17th in the 18-player field.
“The entire year has been amazing and I’ve just been so blessed to have the opportunity,” said Woods.
“To come from where I came from last year at this point to have the ability to actually play and compete again in the game and do it consistently is quite amazing.”
Woods was then headed to his private jet to Los Angeles to board a Qantas flight to Melbourne and arriving Tuesday for a three-day Presidents Cup inspection and promotion of the event being staged later next year on the famed Royal Melbourne course.
Woods, as the USA Team captain, is due to host a press conference on course Wednesday in Melbourne.
Scores from the fourth round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club on Sunday (USA unless stated, par-72):
268 – Jon Rahm (ESP) 71-63-69-65
272 – Tony Finau 72-64-67-69
273 – Justin Rose (ENG) 70-70-68-65
274 – Henrik Stenson (SWE) 68-66-69-71
275 – Patrick Cantlay 65-70-76-64, Rickie Fowler 72-67-67-69
276 – Dustin Johnson 68-67-72-69
277 – Alex Noren (SWE) 69-69-70-69, Xander Schauffele 73-68-66-70, Gary Woodland 72-66-67-72
278 – Patrick Reed 65-77-66-70
280 – Bryson DeChambeau 70-71-71-68, Justin Thomas 70-70-70-70, Bubba Watson 69-73-69-69
282 – Keegan Bradley 71-69-72-70
283 – Jason Day (AUS) 71-72-70-70
287 – Tiger Woods 73-69-72-73
288 – Hideki Matsuyama (JAP) 74-68-71-75