WATCH: Jon Rahm incredibly comes up 7 inches short — on a 10-inch putt 

Jon Rahm on Thursday ahead of his par putt on the 7th hole at Bay Hill.

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About 20 fans stood alongside the right side of the green on the par-3 7th at Bay Hill when Jon Rahm, the world’s top-ranked player, saddled up to his ball to tap in his 10-inch putt for par. One of those 20, a gentleman in a peach shirt and white hat, told the story of what went down next perhaps best. 

Ahead of the putt, the fan had his right arm crossed against his chest, and his left hand was just under his chin.

After the putt? His left hand moved an inch or so up and covered his mouth. 

How could he not? During Thursday’s first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rahm had the 10 inches to go for par — and he still had 7 inches to go for bogey. You can do the math for how far it went. 

“He just went for the tap-in,” analyst Roger Maltbie said on the Golf Channel broadcast. “I don’t know what happened exactly, but it didn’t move but a few inches. I don’t know. I can’t answer.”

So much did it appear to be a gimme that Golf Channel cut away after Rahm missed his first putt on the hole, a 22-footer from the fringe — only to come back a couple minutes later. Here’s what viewers saw: Rahm stood with his left foot extended out a bit in a tap-in stance, he took his putter back slightly, and the ball moved less than slightly. From there, he wiped his putter face, dropped the 7-incher for bogey, grabbed his ball from the cup, looked at it and walked off. 

Prone to occasionally reacting to misfortune with fire, Rahm managed to barely flinch this time around.      

“Can happen to any of us,” announcer Jimmy Roberts said on the Golf Channel broadcast. 

“Yes, it can,” announcer Dan Hicks said.   

Indeed. So what did happen? Analyst Peter Jacobsen, himself a former player, guessed that Rahm may have been looking ahead and not so much at the ball. Golf Channel reported that the 10-inch putt was Rahm’s shortest miss in his Tour career, and his first miss inside 3 feet since last June at Torrey Pines — when he won the U.S. Open. 

“I’ve done that before,” Jacobsen said of the 10-inch miss. “This is when you take your eye off the ball and you’re thinking about, oh, I’m going to move to the next tee; am I going to hit driver or 3-wood, and you do something like that. And he’s just going to kick himself.”

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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.