ERIN, Wisconsin — Standing in a greenside bunker at No. 14 at Erin Hills, having just pitched a nearly impossible shot over the putting surface on a hole where he desperately needed a birdie to have any chance at making the cut at the U.S. Open, Jon Rahm slammed his club into the ground, flung it over his shoulder before unleashing an F-bomb.
After posting a bogey 6, Rahm stormed off the green toward the 15th hole where … he punched a sign, apparently flung his ball in the air and … carded a birdie.
— HeavensBarstool (@HeavensHawkeye) June 16, 2017
Sixteen brought another mini-tantrum when, after leaving his tee shot short, he took cover (as much as one can at a U.S. Open) behind the group of players, caddies and officials standing on the tee box where he gripped his head with both arms in sheer frustration.
Then came 17.
After striping a drive right down the middle, Rahm left his simple approach well short, at which point he flung his club like a throwing knife some 15 yards up the fairway. Another bogey.
Eighteen was uneventful, a par to finish at 5-over, well short of the cutline. And that was that for Jon Rahm, the 22-year-old Spanish phenom and one of the hottest players on the planet, at the U.S. Open.
A fine for throwing his club is possibly coming, and if it does Rahm won’t be surprised. He’ll own it, like he did Friday.
“I do know I need to work on it, cause you know you need to channel the energy,” he said. “You need to get mad but maybe not externalize it as much.”
“It does help me out. I know golfers are supposed to try to internalize everything. I wish I could. Every time I try to keep it to myself. Just imagine a Coca-Cola bottle. If you shake it once and it calms down. You shake it again and it calms down. Once you open it, it’s a complete mess. That’s what happens if I try to keep it down. If I try to keep it down, at some point I’m going to miss a shot that’s not that bad and I’m going to lose it. Sometimes I need to get mad.”
Maybe. A lot of us have thrown clubs with far less on the line than a seven-figure paycheck, but then a lot of us aren’t making seven-figures, let alone making seven figures at 22.
Rahm turned pro almost but not even a year ago. He’s already earned $4.5 million in his first full season (that’s still going). He’s already ranked 10th in the world. He doesn’t have a whole lot to complain about other than not playing up to his potential.
And that’s where he gets stuck. That’s when he loses control.
“It’s just hard when I feel like I’m hitting the shots, I’m trying as hard as I can and things aren’t happening. It’s a lightning,” he explained.
A lightning that was seen on TV Friday and blew up on Twitter. He shot a 1-over par 73, by the way.
“I’ve always been criticized for it,” he said as he walked to the players’ locker room. “I don’t know what to say. I feel bad when I react sometimes. It’s something I can’t control. At the end of the day I need to look towards my golf game, and sometimes it does help.
“I did get mad at 14 and I made birdie at 15, almost birdied 16, and I hit a great drive at 17. So it really … I need to find a different way to do it, but even if I work on it sometimes it just overpowers me.”
Some will love him, some will root for him to miss putts just to see if he explodes like a shaken-up can of Coke, which presents a sort of Catch-22: A player can’t make cuts when he’s missing so many putts he’s slamming his clubs into the ground.
So which will it be with Jon Rahm?