Rahm becomes first Spanish winner of Hero World Challenge

Jon Rahm closed with a stunning bogey free seven-under 65 to become the first Spanish winner of the Hero World Challenge. The 24-year-old Rahm overcame tough conditions at the Albany Golf Club to register his third win of the year, taking his career tally to six in just over two-and-a-half years.

Rahm’s 65, like his 63 on the second day, was flawless, and without a bogey. He totaled 20-under 268 and finished four clear of Tony Finau (69). Albany resident Justin Rose was the other player to make a 65, but had to settle for third position in the overall tally. Swedish Henrik Stenson was fourth with 71 and Tiger Woods scored 73 on Day 4.

Rahm said his decision to trust his shots helped him turn in a bogey-free last day. “Besides how I hit the ball today, there were a couple of keys. Based on how yesterday went, you know, I decided today I was going to be very decisive, meaning that any shot that I decided, any club that I picked, just really be committed. There’s many ways to hit the ball when it’s this windy, there’s many ways to play golf, so I just decided to just pick one shot and stick to it and be really true to it and it really worked,” he said.

“And then the second thing is I really wasn’t looking at anybody else. I just stuck to myself, focused on what was going on in me, inside of me, stayed really in the present, never got ahead,” he added.

Rahm said the year has been a good one for him and he was happy with his three wins. “How many times have there been pros that played the first two years as PGA Tour, European Tour members to win six times? As I said, this year was not so much about golf, it was about me as a person, so to win as many times as I did last year, it just shows that when I get into contention, to me nothing else matters. Last year I think I had 14 top-10s last year, maybe more. This year I was not at such a high number, I didn’t play quite as good as last year, but I was still really good. If I can keep winning three times every year, yeah, I’ll be extremely happy,” he said.

Locked in a close battle with Finau, who had three runner-up finishes before this week, Rahm began the final round at 13-under alongside Finau, playing with him, and Stenson, playing a group ahead. The Swede hung around close till the turn before Rahm began to pull away from the field.

Stenson couldn’t get his game going, missed a lot of putts, while Finau had a fatal double bogey on Par-4 14th, where Rahm had a bogey and that three-shot swing saw the lead become five and the battle was more or less over.

Finau admitted a double at the 14th proved to be decisive. “Yeah, in hindsight. I made a six there, one bad swing can do that on any hole and that’s what happened. I hit about a 20-25-yard pull there and just ended up being hosed. I didn’t get any kind of shot toward the greens there. I tried to chunk and run something out there in the middle of the green, but, you know, again, even if I make a four there, I’m going to have to do something pretty special. Hats off to John this week, he played incredible golf and he deserved to win this week,” he said.

Justin Rose (65), needing to at least have a share in a three-way tie for second to regain his World No. 1 status, did get to second at 15-under with an eagle to help him. But then he ran into Finau on the 18th. Also at 15-under, the American holed a 10-footer birdie to card 69 to deny Rose his moment.

Starting at 13-under, Rahm and Finau went toe to toe for the first seven holes. Both three-under for the day, the only difference being Rahm was bogey-free, while Finau had one bogey for his four birdies. The tide began to turn around the turn. Finau bogeyed the eighth and Rahm birdied the ninth and the gap after the front nine was two in the Spaniard’s favour.

Onto the back nine, there was a bit of a lull. Finau birdied the 10th, but Rahm got a birdie on 11th and both parred 12th and 13th. When they arrived on the 14th tee, Rahm was 16-under and Finau 14-under.

The 14th is one of the shortest Par-4s this week, but this is where the long-hitting Finau faltered. He messed it up with a double bogey, as he went into sand, failed to come out cleanly and then overshot the green before two-putting for six.

Rahm birdied it for a three-shot swing, which swelled the gap to five shots. Both birdied the 15th as Rahm reached 20-under. Finau had another birdie on 18th, while Rahm parred the last three and won by four shots.

It just wasn’t Tiger Woods’ day or week as he shot 73, his second over par round of the week and finished 17th in the 18-man field. He was four-over through front nine, before holing four birdies in five holes from 11th to 16th but again dropped a shot at 17th. Patrick Reed, who bounced back from his second round 78 with 66. He shot 65 on the first day.

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