Jon Rahm on what was going through his head before his epic putt
"I set out with myself to enjoy even the uncomfortable moments we had out there today, and man, it was fun!"
Dustin Johnson sank a beautiful 50-foot putt to force a playoff at the BMW Championship. What followed was a John Rahm putt from the Gods.
On Thursday, at Olympia Fields, Rahm carded a +5 round of 75 to sit 51st out of 69 competitors in the field. He was eight shots off the lead.
The following day was an improvement but his +1 round of 71 did not see him make up much ground. Rory McIroy was the leader, at that stage, and seven strokes ahead. On Saturday, though, Rahm made his move.
The Spaniard carded a blistering round of 64 to move up to even par for the tournament, which is part of the FedEx Cup playoffs, and put himself in a position to make a Sunday charge. He went around the tough Illinois course in 66 and looked set to claim his second big win of the year since golf resumed from a Covid-19-enforced break.
World number one Dustin Johnson was not giving up the ghost, though. DJ was faced with a 50-foot putt on the 18th hole of his round to force a playoff with Rahm. What followed looked nailed on for clutch putt of 2020:
Incredible finish to the golf last night
Dustin Johnson forced a replay with this beauty...pic.twitter.com/HsDOjvpjko
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) August 31, 2020
Rahm, anticipating some stardust from Johnson, was out keeping limber in the practice grounds. He got the nod and it was time to punch back in to work.
Both men played the 18th again and Johnson had the advantage off the tee when he got a fortunate kick, off a tree, onto the fairway. His iron approach gave him a look at birdie from 30 feet away. Rahm, who had found the rough with his drive, stuck his approach on the green but was some 66 feet away from the cup.
The 25-year-old had the honour and was later asked by a reporter if his sole goal was to take the playoff to the 10th hole. He replied:
"Absolutely. When I had that long putt, my hope was to get myself somewhat of a doable uphill putt, somewhere hopefully within three feet, but that was extremely difficult, so three to six feet. I was just kind of hoping to give myself that type of a chance. Obviously still wanted to put on a good roll, but my focus was solely on speed so I could give myself the best chance."
Gunning for par, hoping for better, Rahm set his putt off and went wandering and meandering with it as the ball snaked its' way downhill and through a couple of breaks before rattling into the hole.
Only for Jon Rahm to respond in the playoff with this 🤯
What a way to win it! pic.twitter.com/XLlOc1opuZ
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) August 31, 2020
Job done, a 12th professional career win, a heap of FedEx points and $1.7 million more for the coffers. It was one hell of a reward for a hell of a putt.
Asked to break down his methods when approaching a monster putt like the one he had so recently dispatched, Rahm said, "You know, I don't have like a set method that you can just teach. I'm a feel player.
"I grew up on golf courses with a lot of slope, so putts with slope is something I enjoy, I like and I'm comfortable reading and putting. It fell right in my alley. It was at least 66 feet, so making it, it's a whole different story.
"You can always break it into different parts. When I first stood behind the ball I could see the first two-thirds or three-fourths more or less of the putt were pretty much steady left to right break, and then you get to the big slope, to the top of that hill and it's going to start quick right and then at the end it's going to start turning left towards the pin.
"That's what I saw, and when I'm walking around the hole I'm basically going to the apex or the highest peak of break that I'm going to play and kind of see the ball track from there and try to find a spot, and then when I go back to the ball, I laser on that spot and really make sure I'm putting there and track the ball the way I'm supposed to.
"For people that have seen the movie "The Legend of Bagger Vance," that 18th putt, you can kind of see the light of how the putt is supposed to go. It is somewhat like that. That's how I feel. I kind of visualise the ball rolling like that. So if you had to ask me, yes, the putt was 60 feet but I was trying to hit a spot maybe 30 feet away at most, 30, 40 feet away."
Straight away, hundreds of thousands of pro and amateur golfers will be trying to find out where to watch The Legend of Bagger Vance. Decent movie, all the same.
As for clutch putt of 2020, Jon Rahm now wears that crown.