Jon Rahm has loved Olympia Fields since he played here in college with Arizona State and in the 2015 U.S. Amateur, won by Bryson DeChambeau. A lot has changed for the big man from the Basque region since he was last at the famed club outside Chicago.
You remember, right? When the Spaniard shot 66-64 on the weekend to force a playoff with Dustin Johnson and eventually claim his fifth win on the PGA Tour?
Fast-forward three years and Rahm returns to Olympia Fields as a two-time major champion, 11-time winner on Tour and the No. 3 player in the world.
“I don’t know if ‘different’ is the word. I would say better,” Rahm said of his game now compared to then. “I think I’ve improved quite a bit since then.”
Talk about bad news for the rest of the field of 50 players.
“It’s always great to come back to somewhere I’ve already played a tournament and did so successfully. It’s obviously a very different week,” said Rahm, noting how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the tournament that year. “Personally, my life has changed quite a bit, as well. Kelley was pregnant with Kepa, early stages of the pregnancy when we came, and we’re a little bigger family now with two young ones. It’s good that you get to see that after a great win, things have improved so much both on and off the golf course for me.”
While Patrick Cantlay is the official defending champion of the event, having won last year when it was held at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware, Rahm won the BMW when it was last held at Olympia Fields and the 28-year-old also enters this week as the leader in the season-long race for the FedEx Cup.
“Well, the point of coming to the Playoffs is to give yourself the best chance to get to East Lake on the No. 1 spot. I’ve done a pretty good job so far,” said Rahm of his season that features four wins, including his first Masters victory. “Hopefully this week I can have a good performance like I did last time and earn it and clinch it and give myself the best shot for the win.”
“It’s been a great year so far, so hopefully I can end it off the way I started it,” he said, making vague reference to his win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Amid a season that includes four wins, two runner-up finishes, 10 top 10s and just one missed cut, it would only be natural for Rahm to let his mind drift to his incoming postseason accolades. That said, the only…