Everything was ‘perfect’ for Jon Rahm on Saturday. That should scare everyone else

Jon Rahm of Spain acknowledges fans after third consecutive birdie on the 14th hole during the third round of the Mexico Open at Vidanta on April 29, 2023 in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.

Jon Rahm said 'everything just seemed perfect" on Saturday.

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It’s hard to be disappointed with a 61, but Jon Rahm could make an argument for it. He didn’t though.

He opened his first eight holes of the third round of the Mexico Open at Vidanta with six 3s and two 4s, six under. On 9 and 10, he picked up three strokes from Friday, making two pars on the difficult par 3 and par 4.

Then he made three more birdies in a row on 12, 13 and 14. He needed three more in the last four holes for golf’s magic number: 59.

He missed a 12-footer on 15 and a seven-footer on 16, but he got a long birdie putt on the par-3 17th to drop. Needing eagle on the last, Rahm’s tee shot on the short par-5 found the fairway bunker and had to settle for a par.

Yet, the tee shot wasn’t the shot he’d like to have back from the otherwise sparkling round of 61. It was the miss on 16.

“It was the only one I could say was a bad stroke,” Rahm said postround. “But even if I hit my putt on the intended line, I don’t think I would have made it. I saw Michael Kim’s putt straighten out at the end. I just saw a replay, I think it was Eric Cole hitting a putt from a similar line and his ball at the end was dying pace, never broke right, which leads me to believe that even if I hit the perfect putt, it wouldn’t have gone in.

“But that’s golf, you don’t make them all.”

He missed just one green Saturday and the 61 tied his PGA Tour career-low and launched him from six back to start the day to just two back of Tony Finah and tied for second heading into Sunday.

Yet, Rahm said his swing Saturday didn’t feel much different from the first two days, which had him tied for 12th to start the day. A good position for most, but maybe less than stellar for Rahm. His win in Mexico last year kicked off a run of seven worldwide wins and 15 top-10s in a year.

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“The first two rounds, a couple of the not-so-good swings cost me a little bit too much, right? Either I hit it in a hazard or put myself in a spot where making par was difficult and that’s why I was a little bit out of pace,” Rahm, who set the 18-hole tournament record Saturday, said. “Today, everything just seemed perfect, right? Made a lot of great swings and the ones that weren’t great, still gave myself a good result.”

In case it’s not obvious, the world’s best player saying he was just about perfect — including on his misses — should scare the rest of the field.

During the CBS broadcast, Trevor Immleman called Rahm’s approach on 8, when he had 194 yards into the wind and hit to inside three feet, one of the best shots he’s hit all season. For a player who’s won four times, including a major, in just 2023, that’s insanely high praise. But Rahm actually picked it out as lucky.

“It wasn’t the most flush 5-iron I can hit, I thinned it a little bit, but it released out two feet,” Rahm said. “That’s not something that usually happens or you expect to happen, but it was one of those situations where not the best swing ended up in a great position.”

Even after the spectacular effort, Rahm could only pick up four shots on Finau, who birdied the last to get to 19 under. He’ll start Sunday as the chaser, but if he can make up the two-shot deficit Sunday, it would be the first time in his PGA Tour career he’s successfully defended a title.

“Let’s hope,” Rahm said when reminded of the possibility.

If he brings the same game and gets the same breaks Sunday, he won’t have to hope.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.

 

 

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