How a round with Tiger Woods led Jon Rahm back to winning 

Jon Rahm and Tiger Woods during the final round of this year's Masters.

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Jon Rahm was in a top-player-in-the-world mini-slump. 

What’s the difference between a mini-slump and the one Rahm was stuck in? He can tell you all about it. In fact, he has over the past few months. A sampling: 

Said Rahm in March at the WGC-Match Play: “I’m kind of getting tired of answering the same question every single week. When you’re No. 1 off the tee and top 10 in strokes gained approach, my putting stats are not going to be top 20. It’s absolutely impossible unless I’m winning every single week by eight. Kind of how it goes.

Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm leads from start to finish to win Mexico Open
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“Is it as good as it could be? No, but I think it shows in the stats worse than it actually feels just because I’m hitting so many greens and hitting it so good. Again, I feel like I’ve said it a few times, it’s not as bad as it looks; it feels a lot better than it looks. Maybe I haven’t gotten the results yet, but I’m not worried about it.”

Said Rahm earlier in March at the Players Championship: “I know the stats, don’t worry. I don’t need to know that it’s not going well. Yeah, I’m working on some stuff. I’ve been working on changing some things, and sometimes things get worse, apparently. Stats are not everything. There’s certain things I’ve gotten a lot better, but it’s a combination of things. My ball-striking has been so good, as well, that if I miss two greens a round and don’t get up-and-down on one of them because I left myself in a bad spot, the stats are not going to show that it’s really good. So yeah, I’m working on things.”

And so on. 

Essentially, when you play to a higher standard, you tend to be held to one. Is it unfair? You bet. You can’t win ’em all. Still, Rahm hadn’t won anything since last June (though he posted eight top 10s before last week), he had fallen from his spot atop the world rankings (all the way to … third, and now he’s second) and, somewhat alarmingly, his play on and around the greens was off, as he alluded to above. 

jon rahm callaway driver
This low-spinning driver powered Jon Rahm’s victory at the Mexico Open
By: James Colgan

Of course now, just like that, the top-player-in-the-world mini-slump is over. At the Mexico Open, Rahm won. He led from Thursday to Sunday. He heads into a stretch of three major championships over the next three months with momentum. His golf looks rather simple again.

And just how does a top player in the world bust a top-player-in-the-world mini-slump? That’s simple, too. Because that’s it: simplicity. The answer even has a Tiger Woods connection. The two had played the final round at the Masters together, and somewhere on that Sunday in Augusta, it hit him.

“It’s just how the game is,” Rahm said Sunday night. “I knew I was improving, I knew I was seeing results, and this week has proven that. I think that Sunday with Tiger at Augusta gave me quite a bit of confidence. I was a little bit technical in my approach, a little too technical. I’m a feel player, and that Sunday I told myself, just go out there and hit the golf ball, make shots, see the ball flight and execute, and I shot a three-under without having my best stuff on a tough day.

Jon Rahm congratulates Phil Mickelson at 2021 PGA Championship
‘Everything can be rectified’: Jon Rahm defends Phil Mickelson’s legacy
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“So I applied the same thing this week, minimal technical thoughts and just visualizing ball flight of the shot and getting back to my true self, and I truly saw the difference. My iron game was really, really solid, especially into the wind. Those shots into the wind on 8, 9, 13 — 13 went long, but it was still great — and 17, they’re not easy shots, and I was able to hit really, really good ones.

“Sometimes we deviate from our path, but this time we didn’t, and I’m happy to get my first win and get back up there in the FedExCup standings and hopefully get my second one soon.”

From a slump. To a potential streak.

Oh, and another thing.  

“I got a little tired about answering questions about stats and putting and short game and this and that,” Rahm said.

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.