Enjoying a season of unparalleled success, the sun has shone on Jon Rahm almost permanently in 2023. Yet this week’s PGA Championship has, quite literally, rained on the Spaniard’s parade.
The world No. 1’s misery continued during a wet and windy third round at Oak Hill Country Club, any hopes of adding another major title to his Masters triumph last month all but sunk after as he tumbled to six-over par.
Rahm shot six bogeys en route to carding two-over 72, a score that left him 11 shots adrift of leaders Scottie Scheffler, Corey Conners and Viktor Hovland before they teed off for their third rounds.
After opening with a painful 76, Rahm had bounced back with a second round 68 to survive the cut and start the weekend nine strokes back from the leading trio. It was a sizable deficit to claw back, yet if anyone could do it, it was the player already chasing his fifth win of the year.
The first hole served as an ominous foreshadowing of the exasperation to follow. Needing to putt from 20 feet to save par, Rahm’s long-range effort looked destined to drop in before agonizingly curling around the lip of the cup.
Another bogey at the second hole extended the 28-year-old’s nightmare start. A brief respite followed with a birdie at the fourth, but trouble arrived again immediately at the subsequent hole when Rahm’s attempt to chip towards the pin went sailing over the other side of the green.
Irritation boiled over as the Spaniard – well-known for wearing his heart on his sleeve – proceeded to slam his club into a nearby broadcast microphone. To rub salt into the wounds, Rahm’s subsequent long-range putt to save par once again missed by mere inches.
It was a camera operator’s turn to take the brunt of the golfer’s frustrations at the eighth hole. After his tee drive had skewed into the rough at the right of the fairway, broadcast pictures showed Rahm gesturing at the camera to move away as he searched for his ball.
“Stop aiming at my face when I’m mad, it’s all you guys do,” Rahm could be heard saying on broadcast.
It marked the start of a run of three straight bogeys, but as the weather began to improve, so did Rahm. Four-over at the turn, back-to-back birdies helped the Spaniard go two-under through the back nine.
Rahm arrived at Oak Hill bidding to become only the fourth golfer – and the first since Jack Nicklaus in 1975 – to win both the Masters and the PGA Championship, but an anticipated shootout with Scheffler has failed to materialize.
The American world No. 2 is well in the hunt for his second major title after his 2022 Masters victory, an outcome predicted ahead of the tournament by fellow green jacket winner, Trevor Immelman.
“I think Scottie Scheffler’s going to win, I really do,” Immelman told CNN ahead of the tournament.
“He’s just been playing some beautiful golf and has already won multiple times this season. The only thing that has really held him back has been his putting.
“Rahm has had a spectacular season, there’s no doubt about it. But if Scheffler’s putter gets hot, I think he’s going to be tough to beat.”