U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm is tired of hearing it. That is, he is tired of hearing other people explain his unconventional swing, explanations that usually include references to his weight or his "tight hips.”
And for the record, those explanations could not be more wrong.
“I’m tried of hearing that the reason I have a short swing is because I have tight hips, or other things,” said Rahm during a pre-British Open press conference at Royal St. George’s on Tuesday. “If you know anything about golf, that is the stupidest thing to say.”
Rahm then explained the real story. The mechanics behind his relatively short golf swing short are necessitated by physical limitation with which he was born.
“For people that don’t know,” Rahm continued, “I was born with a clubfoot on my right leg ... My right leg, up to the ankle, was straight, my foot was 90 degrees turned inside and basically upside down. So when I was born, they pretty much broke every bone in the ankle and I was recasted within 20 minutes of being born — from the knee down. I think it was every week I had to go back to the hospital to get recasted.
“From the knee down, my leg did not grow at the same rate. So I have very limited ankle mobility on my right leg. It’s a centimeter and a-half shorter, as well. So what I mean by limitation is, I can’t take a full swing, because my ankle doesn’t have the mobility or stability to take it. I learned at a very young age that I’m going to be more efficient at creating power, and be consistent from a short swing.”
The 26-year-old Spaniard said he has learned more about his physical strengths and limitations while working with Dave Phillips, a performance coach and co-founder of the Titleist Performance Institute. Rahm also explained he has limited ability to bend his wrists backwards.
He adjusts by bowing his wrists in his swing, which is not exactly the textbook approach to swinging a golf club. But it works for the former Arizona State star. “That’s why I naturally turn to bow my wrist to create power in absolutely every sport I do,” Rahm said.
“It’s little things that I think a lot of people can learn, right? Let your body dictate how you can swing. I used to not be a good ball striker. Terrible. And slowly, once I started learning in college, I became a good ball striker. Learn from your body, your body is going to tell you what it can and can't do.”
Unconventional and all, Rahm did something no Spaniard had done before when he won the U.S. Open last month at Torrey Pines. Moreover, he has been among the most dynamic players in the game throughout 2021. Before winning the U.S. Open, he carried a six-shot lead into the final day at Memorial, but had to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19.
In all, Rahm has nine top-10 finishes in 13 starts this year, and he has another extraordinary opportunity in front of him. Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson make up the short list of players who have won the U.S. Open and British Open in the same year. With his short swing, Rahm has a chance to join them.
"It would be pretty incredible to win both Opens in one year,” said Rahm, who is paired with 2019 British Open winner Shane Lowry and 2010 winner Louis Oosthuizen in the first two rounds. Oosthuizen, of course, is the same player Rahm edged by a stroke at Torrey Pines.
“It would be amazing,” Rahm said. "I did have a sense of relief after winning the first major. I felt like for the better part of five years, all I heard is major, major, major just because I was playing good golf, as if it was easy to win a major championship.
"The fact that you are expected to win one means nothing, but you're playing good golf, so a bit of relief in that sense, but it doesn't really change. There's still the next one to win, so I still come with the same level of excitement obviously and willingness to win.”
More Morning Read Coverage of 2021 British Open:
- Five Best British Opens of the 21st Century
- Unfazed Bryson DeChambeau Turns Page on Caddie Saga
- Bettors' Roundtable: Favorites, Sleepers, Best Bets from Pool of Experts
- No Course Embraces Quirks Quite Like Royal St. George's'
- Shane Lowry Can Make Rare History This Week
- The Perfect Venue to Cap 2021 Major Season? It's Royal St. George's
- Americans Need to Man Up an Deal With British Open Travel Protocols
- Elements of Style: What Pros Will Wear This Week at British Open
- Gary Player Says St. George's is Easiest of Open Venues