Jon Rahm explains ‘withdrawals’ that come with his golf addiction

Rahm was all smiles after shooting 65 Thursday at Riviera Country Club.

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PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — There isn’t a golfer on the planet who can relate to Jon Rahm at the moment. He is simply too good, signing for yet another score in the 60s here in the first round at Riviera Country Club. When I asked him to explain what, if anything, was “hard” about golf right now, he stumbled through his answer. Perhaps nothing, Sean!

But there is at least one thing about Rahm the golfer that is relatable: He’s a full-blown golf addict. Rahm signed for 65 Thursday and then squeezed through the hordes of Tiger Woods fans before stopping for a smiley chat with some golf writers. We breezed through his thoughts on the course and this elevated event and the momentum with which he’s playing. Eventually, he was asked a question we all get asked this time of year.

What was the longest you went without touching a club this offseason? What was the longest you’ve gone without thinking about golf?

Rahm didn’t miss a beat.

“Even when I say I’m going to take weeks off, I go through withdrawals the first day,” he said. “First two days I’m home, and Kelly knows I’m going absolutely nuts, I’m not a pleasure to be around. After two days I can start enjoying things.”

Rahm has the benefit of living in Scottsdale, where the golf happens every day. He doesn’t have to take a break if he doesn’t want to. And these days, he shouldn’t. DataGolf ranks him No. 1, even when the World Golf Ranking algorithm doesn’t. Barring him showing up late for his Friday tee time, Rahm will extend his current cuts-made streak to 23, the best on Tour by seven. 

A couple days ago, you’d have maybe thought Rahm wanted a respite. He had just made bogey on the par-3 16th and stormed to the 17th tee, cussing himself out. When he hard-hooked his tee ball on 18, more cussing. He had lost his battle against the official No. 1, Scottie Scheffler, and even Nick Taylor, too. Rahm glared off into the crowd as Scheffler put the finishing touches on his fifth win in 13 months. And then the Spaniard showed up in Los Angeles and did it again, making eight birdies on one of the tougher tests of the Tour season. 

“The same things that make [golf] really hard is probably those hard moments that make you come back,” Rahm said.

The longest he’s ever gone without hitting balls was during the pandemic shutdown, and even then his restlessness took him to the backyard for some phantom swings. The longest break he’ll take between hitting balls is “maybe two weeks,” he said, because he just loves playing. He likes mixing birdies with beers among buddies. 

“I do that a lot,” he said. “There’ll be a lot of times during the week that if I’ve been practicing quite hard and then take a Saturday where I go play with them, have an enjoyable day. Then maybe a couple hours afterwards take it seriously to work on some things. I’m not one to be taking a lot of time off.”

That much is clear. Rahm played the first designated event in Hawaii, which he won, and teed it up at the Amex two weeks later. Torrey Pines a week after that. Last week, he had his home game in Phoenix, and like most top players he’s at it again this week here in California. He was vocal that top players should not have to play all the designated events, but it’s unclear which one he’ll take off. Next up: the API, Players and Match Play. On Thursday afternoon, he even enjoyed the golf-nerdy level of questioning he was fielding. When the golf is good, the questions are good, the vibes are good. Why not keep it going? About 500 yards behind him, Tiger Woods had just made birdie on the 1st hole, and naturally Rahm was asked if he’d tune in for Woods’ first round in seven months.

“Based on what I said earlier, how much I love this game, I’m going to go ahead and say yes,” Rahm said, grinning wide. “I love watching golf, I love watching Tiger and I love watching any players. I could watch any tournament going on on TV, I just enjoy it that much. That’s kind of how I am.”

There he goes again. Just (a little) like the rest of us. 

Sean Zak Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine, currently working on a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews. You can read about those travels here and catch his latest thoughts on the Drop Zone Podcast:

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