Lessons from Jon Rahm’s Hawaiian Comeback Victory
By Brendon Elliot, PGA
Jon Rahm of Spain plays his shot from the 17th tee during the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 08, 2023 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
After starting the final round at Kapalua Resort in Hawaii seven shots back — and suffering an opening bogey — Jon Rahm turned on the jets with a Sunday 63 and emerged victorious at the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
His almost unbelievable comeback can serve as an example to all golfers to never give up and that there’s always the chance to do something special. Clearly, shooting a 10-under 63 is far from a possibility for most of us, especially with the amount of pressure that comes from being in contention in the final round.
However, just like with the final outcomes that happen each week on the game’s biggest stages, we can absolutely learn lessons that are applicable to our own game.
The Start Does Not Define the Finish
“If you told me at the beginning of the round after that bogey that I was going to do what I did, and have a [two-shot] win, I wouldn’t believe you,” shared Rahm in a post-round interview.
What sticks out to me first and foremost is this: How you start your day does not have to define how you finish your round. A bad first hole is certainly not an easy thing to get past, and even Rahm had his doubts initially on Sunday.
But what separates those that are the most successful on tour is having the ability to stay in the moment, and keep what happened in the past right where it was — in the past.
“I feel like with that lead [Morikawa] had, I needed to play really good, and he needed to make a couple mistakes," Rahm also said after his round.
When professionals have a game plan in mind at the start of a round — even if it is to be ultra-aggressive — they generally stick to the plan and focus solely on the execution of it. Rahm needed some things on the leaderboard to materialize for him to win, but his ability to fully stick with a game plan and execute was the difference. Sometimes it pays off, other times it does not, but the lesson here is to stay committed and believe that, eventually, your results will speak to your ability to play well when you need to most.
Ride the Wave
The final thing that was impressive to me about Rahm’s win, and it’s something we can all learn from, was his ability to ride the wave of good momentum when it was happening. With a stretch of three straight birdies on No. 4-6 on the front, and a remarkable stretch on No. 12-15 where he went birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle, Rahm basically let things happen. He stayed calm and collected in a situation where others may have let the moment get to them.
Good stretches are often not too much different than bad ones as far as how our nerves and mind are concerned, and in our ability to handle them. Staying present and in the moment is the key to managing both positive and negative situations — to keep the good going and the bad from happening.