Ever since Jon Rahm and wife Kelley welcomed their first son, Kepa, to the world just days before the Masters, the deliveryman has been doing double duty dropping off boxes of gifts at their door.
There have been children’s books and onesies galore, including one from his apparel sponsor, Travis Matthew, with the logo of his favorite Spanish soccer team, Athletic Bilbao. His equipment maker, Callaway, gave Kepa his first club and Rahm’s swing instructor sent him a book about fellow Spaniard Seve Ballesteros so that he can pass down the legend of Seve to the next generation. But of all the presents, there’s one that stood out for Rahm, a yardage book from his former college teammate Ki Taek Lee, who caddies on the PGA Tour for K.J. Choi, with the mascot of their alma mater, Arizona State University, the logo of Rahm’s favorite soccer team, and his nickname, Rahmbo.
“Inside he had the baby’s name and Kelley’s name on the bottom. It was really cool. It’s not so much for the baby, it’s a little bit for me, but I thought it was such a thoughtful thing from a friend,” Rahm said. “It’s so simple and something I use and see all the time that I thought it was really, really thoughtful.”
Despite the lack of preparation, Rahm managed to finish in a tie for fifth at the Masters, one of his eight top-10s in 12 starts this season, and enjoyed a week off on diaper duty, which could bode well for his title defense with teammate Ryan Palmer at this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Or does it?
“I haven’t figured out the right balance to be able to spend the time on the golf course and obviously I went to Augusta with very little practice and last week I mean it’s definitely hard to leave the house now,” Rahm said. “It’s definitely really hard to leave and try to focus. So, I apologize in advance, buddy.”
Palmer, for one, didn’t seem the least bit concerned. By winning here in 2019 – the 2020 edition was one of 11 events canceled due to the global pandemic – the Tour veteran, who previously had paired with Jordan Spieth in this event, snapped a span of 3,388 days since his last victory at the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii. It marked Palmer’s fourth career Tour title at the age of 42, and the three-stroke triumph was the largest margin of victory since the event converted to the team format in 2017.
The winning tandem kicked off their title defense in strong fashion on Tuesday dining at Desi Vega’s Steakhouse with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis among the dinner party.
Palmer, who was runner-up at the Farmers Insurance Open in January, and Rahm meshed well in their debut, in part, because they play similar games.
“We like to see the ball go left-to-right for the most part, so I think it matches up really well,” Rahm said.
At World No. 3, Rahm is the highest-ranked player in the field. It’s one of golf’s unwritten rules that the defending champion comes back to defend his title, but given the birth of his child so recently, Rahm would’ve been excused for bowing out this year. But whether he’s suffering from exhaustion or pangs of guilt of being far from home, Rahm is here to make a valiant attempt to defend the winner’s belts at a tournament that struck him as a fun one-off, right from the get-go.
“Growing up as a junior golfer in Spain we have plenty of opportunities to play events like this one or play with a partner and I thought it’s so unique, it was the first I ever seen on the PGA Tour that it was fun,” Rahm said. “It’s something that’s different, it’s appealing to me and it’s, you know, you get to experience different things on the golf course, you can rely on a partner, you get people going double-digits under par pretty easily, it’s just a really exciting week.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/04/21/zurich-classic-jon-rahm-ryan-palmer-title-defense/