Why Jon Rahm is playing just days after his Masters win

Jon Rahm said he thought of the fans when choosing to tee it up this week at the RBC Heritage.

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HILTON HEAD, S.C. — After his historic 2019 Masters win, we didn’t see Tiger Woods play again until the PGA Championship, more than a month later. In 2020, Dustin Johnson didn’t make another official PGA Tour start that year after his November Masters win. Hideki Matsuyama also took more than a month off after his first major title.

In the last four years, only Scottie Scheffler has played another event in April after winning the green jacket. The precedent has been set: You can take the week off after winning the Masters.

That was until this week when Jon Rahm rolled into Hilton Head, green jacket and red-hot game in tow, for this week’s RBC Heritage.

Rahm was asked about his presence Wednesday in his pre-tournament press conference. Had he thought about not playing this week after the rush of a Masters win? Yes, he had.

“It did cross my mind. It did cross my mind, but I made a commitment earlier in the year, and I want to honor that commitment,” Rahm said. “Talking to [my wife] Kelley, I put myself in the shoes of not only the spectators but the kids as well. If I was one of the kids, I would want to see the recent Masters champion play — good or bad, just want to be there.”

Rahm is the first Masters winner since Jordan Spieth in 2015 to tee it up at Harbour Town the week after donning the Green Jacket, but that was almost expected to change this year.

The RBC Heritage is one of the PGA Tour’s new Designated events, which means it carries a $20 million purse, $2 million more than last week’s major championship. And just for this season, the PGA Tour’s top players, those who earned a bonus from the Player Impact Program, are required to play in all but one of the Designated events to earn those bonuses.

Rahm has yet to skip a Designated event this season, meaning he could have taken the week off and not taken a hit to his future PIP payout, but based on his answer, that wasn’t a concern.

He wants to win this week.

“I still intend to hopefully do the jacket double and taking this one home,” Rahm said. “I’m not going to parade myself, right?”

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Only one player has claimed both the Masters green jacket and Heritage tartan jacket in successive weeks: Bernhard Langer in 1985.

That owes partially to the trend of Masters winners skipping the trip to the low country. The Heritage has been held the week after the Masters every year, with the exception of 2020, since 1983.

But it’s also about the strain of winning a major, and especially the Masters, which Rahm detailed Wednesday. He knew about the green jacket presentation and ceremony, but he didn’t know about the dinner than came afterward Sunday night. It can be a thrilling and tiring ordeal all at once.

“I think it would have crossed anybody’s [mind] because I was so tired,” Rahm said. “But that’s why I decided to come in yesterday afternoon and take it easier and just give my body a rest before I got into competition mode.”

And just because he’s tired, doesn’t mean the man who’s already won four times this season on the PGA Tour doesn’t think he can’t make it five come Sunday.

“I can promise you that every time I tee it up in a tournament, it’s going to be to win,” Rahm said. “It may feel better or worse, but I intend to try my hardest to win.”

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.