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The Time Is Now for Jon Rahm at the Masters

Jon Rahm has seemed to thrive in this unique season. Will that translate to his first major win at Augusta?

On the eve of his 26th birthday John Rahm finds himself sitting alongside Rickie Fowler and Ian Poulter. It’s Monday of Masters week and the trio of PGA Tour stars are gathered for their annual Masters chat as part of their partnership with Mercedes-Benz. As Rahm settles in to talk shop about Augusta National, the Masters and the excitement of the week ahead, he looks out to an empty audience.

Any other year, the room would be filled with Masters patrons and guests of the luxury vehicle brand. Fans who’d likely be serenading Rahm with "Happy Birthday." But of course, 2020 is different. And actually, as the burly Spaniard prepares for a November Masters, the thought of different is quite all right with Rahm.

Rahm is a five-time PGA Tour winner. In all, he’s won 11 times around the globe and enters the week ranked No. 2 in the world. He’s been close at major championships, even in the hunt at the Masters on a Sunday. But until now, Rahm has been unable to seal the deal. That could change this week.

“I definitely know I have the game for it,” says Rahm, who oozes confidence.

Now more than ever, Rahm is ready. And the unprecedented nature of the last eight months could be a big reason why.

Rahm is a young man who can’t sit still. The season stoppage due to COVID-19 wasn’t easy. Back home in Arizona, Rahm found himself running errand after errand looking for an excuse to get out of the house.

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Along with picking up the groceries for his wife Kelley, who does most of the cooking, Rahm was able to hit the reset button on his game—something that has been paying dividends during the back end of 2020, though it hasn’t been easy.

“That first week back at Colonial, it definitely felt like I was missing something, but like everything, I had to adjust,” recalls Rahm.

“As an athlete you have to be able to adjust. It just took some time. Once I adjusted my routine Monday to Wednesday and got used to the fact that there was not going to be any fans on the course, I realized it was still the same game.”

The adjustment has quickly paid off. This year alone, Rahm has been one of the few players on tour who've been able to restart the engine and play their way to victory. A win at the Memorial in July was backed up by another at the BMW Championship in August. While others were left searching for motivation this season with no fans to push them, Rahm found the drive needed during this unique season.

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“I don't know how or why I’ve done it, but if I did, I’m not giving out any secrets,” laughs Rahm.

All joking aside, Rahm is primed for a big week at Augusta. He’s already gone through a natural career progression that traditionally translates into a title. Qualify for a major, make the cut, contend on the weekend—all the boxes have been checked. Rahm has top-10 finishes in three of the four majors and has registered a T-9 and T-4 over his last two Masters tournaments, success he credits to an evolving career and mental approach.

“There’s been a level of maturity that only comes from experience,” says the introspective Rahm, who in the past let his fiery nature get in the way of his world-class golf swing.

“I came skyrocketing into my first Masters in 2017. I think I was something like the third favorite to win even though the last time somebody had won the Masters in their first try was back in the 70s. I think the expectations from the outside rose drastically and it was something I wasn’t ready for.”

Fast forward three years, and Rahm couldn’t be more ready. His game is one of the most explosive in the world. Last season he ranked No. 1 in strokes gained total, a huge measuring stick when it comes to golf statistics and scoring. But it’s more than his swing that’s led him to the doorstep of his first major title. Rahm says he’s gained not only experience with playing major championship golf, but also has also learned how to get comfortable being the favorite.

So as one of the favorites heading into this week the question is simple: What needs to happen in order for Rahm to win the Masters?

“For me to win the Masters, I need to stay true to who I am,” says Rahm

“I need to play the shot that I see and feel within me. Not the shot that you’re supposed to play. Hit the shot that I feel in the moment, in my hands and in my mind. Just be who I am.”

Sounds like a guy ready to be a major champion.

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