Jon Rahm is beginning to make the Plantation Course at Kapalua, home of the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, his playground. A year after posting an eye-opening 33-under-par tally, albeit in a losing effort, the Spaniard is back at it again to kick off 2023.
The world number five came into the first event of the new year as the favorite to take down this week’s event in Hawaii. He nearly did just that at this exact time last year but was narrowly beaten out by Australia’s Cameron Smith, who edged out Jon Rahm by a one-shot margin in the end.
“I can’t say much, man, I shot 33-under. I got beat by 34-under. Period. That’s just what it is. We both played really good golf. It was a great battle,” Rahm stated on Thursday when looking back upon the epic battle that took place last January.
Jon picked things up in a similar fashion to kick off his run at this year’s edition of the event. The 28-year-old opened with a 64 on Thursday of the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions during a round that saw Rahm record eight birdies, an eagle, and just one bogey, putting him well on pace towards another final tally in the 30-under-par range come weeks end.
Of course one of the world’s best golfers has higher aspirations in 2023 than just earning redemption at the new year’s opening event in beautiful Hawaii. The Spaniard also has his sights set on major number two.
Jon Rahm is targeting major number two in 2023
Speaking prior to this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, Rahm admitted that performing better in this year’s majors was high on the priority list coming into this year.
"“The only thing I have I didn’t do last year that I wish I would have done is compete better in majors and give myself a better chance. So obviously that being a goal this year, hopefully get No. 2 and give Spain another major.” – Jon Rahm"
A year after winning his first major at the 2021 U.S. Open and finishing no worse than top 10 in each of golf’s four biggest events, Rahm failed to record a single top 10 finish at a major championship in 2022.
The closest he came last year was at the U.S. Open at Brookline where he finished 12th. That’s all highly disappointing for a player as talented as Rahm, and he knows it.
Jon will have to wait until April and the Masters for his first crack at improving his performance in majors. In the meantime, he has his sights set squarely on claiming a title that he thought was his last year.
Rahm finds himself in a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard heading into Friday’s second round at Kapalua. This in spite of the fact that he only managed to find five fairways during Thursday’s round as Justin Ray alluded to on Twitter.
Rahm’s presence at the top of the leaderboard, despite his troubles with a club that is usually a strength of his, is certainly a scary thought for the rest of the field as the week progresses.