Jon Rahm, during the final round of last month’s U.S. Open, birdied his second-to-last hole to move into a tie for the lead, then birdied his last at Torrey Pines to take it. But not win it. Not yet. Louis Oosthuizen, was a shot behind and playing the 15th. Rahm signed his scorecard, gathered his wits and headed to the range to ready for a potential playoff.
As he did, as also seen in a video originally posted to Twitter by Kira K. Dixon of Golf Channel, Mickelson escorted Kelley and Kepa down to watch, a spare chair in hand for them to sit on.
“I can tell you as much as I was nervous, he was probably way worse,” Rahm said on this week’s episode of the Subpar podcast.
Still, no one in the field had been in this spot more than Mickelson — Lefty is a six-time major champ, with the sixth coming at the PGA Championship a month earlier. If you needed someone to coach you on what could come next over the next hour or so, you could do no better. As Kelley had questions as her husband hit, the family’s longtime friend had answers.
“Phil was a gentleman,” Rahm said on the podcast. “Kelley had never been in that situation before so she asked him what she should do, if she should stand besides me or not, and Phil was really nice about getting the chair, keeping conversation so she forgets about it and just telling her what to do.”
Oosthuizen would par 15 and 16. On 17, he hit his tee shot into the penalty area left. It was here when the Rahms and Mickelson made their way to the range, and it was there where Jon Rahm saw on a phone that Oosthuizen bogeyed 17 to fall two back. On 18, Oosthuizen hit his drive left, layed up on his next shot on the par-5 and needed to hole his third to tie.
The driving range gallery stood up from their chairs.
“Once Louis was getting close to hitting his layup, they started walking down the fairway, because I feel like Phil knew he’s not going to hole that shot out,” Rahm said on the podcast. “You couldn’t spin it back because he was so close. He had to land it just short of the pin. It’s tough to hole it out, but in my mind, he could still hole it out.
“And they slowly started coming up and when I saw her it was five, 10 seconds later when they told us that he had missed it. Plus we heard a little bit of cheer. You never know what’s going on.”
Two weeks after being forced to withdraw from the Memorial with a six-shot final-round lead due to a positive Covid test, on the course where he proposed to Kelley, on his first Father’s Day, Rahm was a first-time major winner. His wife, son and friend saw it unfold from front-row folding chairs.
“I saw the images, the replay, and there’s a bit of like five seconds where I freeze,” Rahm said. “Where they tell me it’s over and I freeze. And I’m like, I could process it because I just couldn’t believe it. I think I thought what everybody thought is like cannot believe that where I was three weeks ago, or two weeks and a little bit, to this point — what’s happened?
“And the fact that I won at Torrey Pines on Father’s Day and everything that happened those two weeks coming together, I just couldn’t believe just how much of a fairy tale ending we had. And yeah, I mean, it was pretty incredible.”
To watch the entire interview with Rahm, please click below.