Jon Rahm: Does the Spaniard have the right stuff for Erin Hills?

Jun 12, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Jon Rahm signs autographs during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 12, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Jon Rahm signs autographs during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /

Jon Rahm is positioned to vault from the 116th U.S. Open low amateur to the 117th U.S. Open champion in one giant leap – let’s watch him go for it!

John Rahm is looking like he’s poised to go from low amateur to champion at the U.S. Open in one giant leap. It’s been quite a year for the 22-year old Spaniard who plays golf with an audacious abandon that’s reminiscent of another Spaniard who earlier thrilled and amazed the golf world.

I know that Erin Hills is a completely different track than Oakmont, but I also know that the shot-making and ball-striking skill John Rahm demonstrated at Oakmont are exactly what he needs to take on Erin Hills and beat both Old Man Par and Dustin Johnson.

If you have any doubts about Rahm’s aggressive, powerful, fearless game style, take a look at these highlights from his 2016 U.S. Open performance.

And to think he started his first round at his first U.S. Open with a triple bogey!  Reflecting on that moment, Rahm said he quickly learned an important lesson about offensive versus defensive play.

"I think I teed off a little too on the defensive side. I tried to respect the golf course too much and not play as aggressive as I did."

Rahm turned pro the day after the 116th U.S. Open concluded and wasted no time putting that lesson to work. It paid off handsomely and quickly, with top-5 finishes at the Quicken Loans National and the Canadian Open.

Rahm and Erin Hills

Now he’s going to take on Erin Hills, a track he describes as “a links course on steroids.”  And Rahm is getting his big game ready to take on the challenge.

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As he works through his preparation process, Rahm’s thinking about the course and the competition is going to be as crucial as his yardage book and getting his flatstick dialed in.

Jon Rahm’s approach to the game borders on a take-no-hostages mentalité. Facing a risk-reward choice in the final round at Congressional – he was still working to secure his card – he chose the high risk-high reward, go-for-the-green shot out of the rough when a more conservative layup was clearly safer. He recalled that moment. He wasn’t thinking about his PGA TOUR card. He was thinking about winning.

"I wasn’t thinking about the card at that point. All I had in mind was winning the tournament. Same in Canada, when I hit the shot in 18, it was a 5-iron. I took it right at it. I didn’t hesitate. When I’m playing, I don’t think of anything else than doing the best I can do to win a tournament."

Rahm by the numbers

Just looking at Rahm’s stats, we know some of those long, powerful drives are going to wind up in the Erin Hills fescue, and rough it is. He’s going to need that go-for-broke game! But this is the guy who currently ranks second on the TOUR in SG:tee-to-green and third in SG:total. Rahm can scramble – he’s at 92% scrambling from the fringe and 57% scrambling from the rough, so he just needs to get close enough to stuff it up onto those great big Erin Hills greens. And he will need to get close because Rahm’s weakness comes on the putting surface.

Next: U.S. Open Draft Kings picks

Jon Rahm isn’t going to easily walk away with the U.S. Open trophy because Dustin Johnson has every intention of walking away with himself. But Rahm has the game and the guts to outplay DJ.