A Finish For The Ages

Jon Freaking Rahm.

Jim Rome
August 31, 2020 - 11:01 am
Jon Rahm

USA Today

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If you missed the final round of the BMW Championship yesterday, then you missed one of the greatest non-major finishes in golf history. A holy-hell, where-were-you-when, too-good-to-believe, kind of finish.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that Dustin Johnson has been spinning the golf world on his index digit like a damn Harlem Globetrotter. Put simply; he owns it.

Runner up at the PGA, run-away winner at the Northern Trust, and 54-hole leader at the BMW this past weekend. Add it all up and this guy is number one in the world, walking around the track with a Kevlar vest on. He’s bulletproof. He’s untouchable. Or at least he was.

And when you consider how different of a layout it was this week at Olympia Fields then it was last week at TPC Boston, it becomes even more impressive that this flatliner had no problem conquering both places. Because he did things to TPC Boston that you can’t even do in a video game. Like carding a record-setting 30-under par with more eagles than bogeys. Crazy bleep like that. 

But Olympia Fields was the exact opposite. And it played like a US Open; hard as hell, fast as hell, and long as hell. And the greens were straight up trampolines. Nothing was holding and guys were scrambling just to make pars all week long. Like that was a good thing. Because it was. 

So it’s no surprise that in a field of 69—only five players finished in red figures. DJ was one of them. And so was Jon Rahm.

Question: How did I make it this far into talking about yesterday without mentioning Jon Rahm?

Answer: The same way he made it that far into the tournament seemingly a non-factor and not a part of the conversation.  Unbelievable dude.  Even better guy, but it just seemed like it wasn’t his weekend.   That’ll happen.  Happens to us all.

Through his first 38 holes—Rahm-bo was a rather forgettable 6-over. And then right around the third hole on Saturday, he flipped a switch. A switch that saw him play his final 34 holes at a jaw-dropping 10-under and get into the clubhouse with a one shot lead while DJ stood on the box at 17.

Understand this about Jon Rahm’s late surge; no one in the field shot 64 all week. And Rahm shot that number on Sunday. 275 other scorecards over four days and Rahm turned in the only one that good. And he closed with four birdies and no bogeys on a back nine that had been eating guys alive all week.

So DJ had two holes to make one bird and force a playoff with a guy who was standing on the other side of the property firing off Taylor Made’s at the range trying to stay loose.

On his second shot at 17, DJ dumped one in the greenside bunker and made a pretty heroic up-and-down to stay in the fight and  give himself a chance at 18. No one will remember that sand save because of what happened next but should because it was all sorts of class-and-brass with the tournament on the line.

So now DJ’s chasing one with one to play. And his drive on 18 was over-cut and landed in the right-side rough. Then his approach shot jumped out on a flyer, went past the flag, and left DJ with an improbable 45-foot birdie putt to tie the lead.

Don’t sleep on or gloss it over. 45-feet, down the hill, with at least 6-cups of left-to-right break. A damn near impossible putt. All that was left to do was crown Jon Rahm the champ after the amount of work DJ left himself on 18. And then this happened.

Never a doubt. On line the entire way. And buried center cup right in the heart. An absolutely unbelievable putt from a guy playing the best golf of his life. And as bad I don’t miss Golf Fan right now—they needed to be on 18 for that. Because it was incredible.

And now Jon Rahm has to make his way from the practice area back to the 18th tee for a sudden death playoff against a guy who’s been unconscious for three straight weeks and appears unbeatable. A guy who just made a miracle putt look like a routine tap in from 3 feet.

But it turns out there were even more fireworks set to blow. Bigger and better pyrotechnics, too, if you can believe it. Because both guys played their second shots onto the green but nowhere near the stick. DJ was 40 feet out and Rahm was 66. It looked like two-putt city and another playoff hole coming up.

But Rahm decided to give DJ a taste of his own sniper medicine. 

A 66-foot, downhill, double-breaker, that was in the center of the jug the entire way. An absolute tape-measure, cold-blooded assassin job from a guy who had just come off the range and had a trophy ripped from him after he had already found a place for it on his mantle. No freaking way that just happened. But it did. And DJ finally ran out of pixie dust….I said pixie dust, not the Bolivian marching powder….ran out of pixie dust  and left his birdie try just short. And Rahm ripped his tournament back.

You can’t script it any better. The world’s top-2 golfers, trading the crazy clutch putts from different area codes all together. DJ went 45 feet to tie it on 18. Rahm-bo went 66 feet to win it all in the playoff. And in a sport where last second, walk-off endings are hard to come by, this tournament had two of them in 10 minutes. And no one had gotten their jaw off the floor after DJ’s putt, before Rahm went 21 feet better for the win.

And if you liked that—you get it again this Thursday at the TOUR Championship because these dudes will be paired with each other off the jump as the best two sticks coming into the season finale. So sign me the hell up for that. What a finish. And now we get these guys going head-to-head for 15-mill in 72 hours.

As bad as I want to make this all about what Jon Rahm and DJ did yesterday, I can’t close the book on the BMW without mentioning Marc Leishman - who flipped Dustin Johnson’s 30-under last week and wired the field in reverse this week with a 30-over.

30-freaking-over. Dude came out swinging on Thursday, fired an 80, and never looked back. DFL the entire way. So hats off to Marc Leishman who played the BMW 60 shots worse than DJ played the Northern Trust.

And finally—a sincere apology to all the locker room attendants, and valet drivers, and clubhouse workers who had to work the Tiger Woods/Matt Kuchar pairing yesterday. Safe to say none of you received any kind of tips or gratuity and Christmas is canceled at your house. My heart goes out to you—even though Cat and Kuchar’s wallets most assuredly did not.