The greats of the game are never satisfied and Jon Rahm is no exception. The Spaniard tees up for the first time this year at the Sentry Tournament of Champions from Thursday in Hawaii knowing he has a target on his back as the game’s best player; a target he’s happy to embrace as he looks to scale even greater heights in 2022.
The world number one has occupied top spot on the rankings since a podium finish at The Open in July and despite breaking his Major duck with victory at the US Open a month earlier at Torrey Pines, Rahm, who recorded 13 top-10s from 21 starts last year, admits he’d gladly trade in some of his consistency if it meant adding more trophies to his cabinet.
“My goal is to beat it,” Rahm said of going better than last year. “My goal is always to do better each year.
“But, you know, it’s hard to say. Because I’ve had such a consistent year and had one win, but I could tell you right now, I would gladly take a bit more inconsistency but have more than one win. So it all depends on how you categorise it. And I could tell you at the end of the year how I think about it.
“On the sport we play on, it’s hard to only count wins as successes just because it’s a sport where winning is — we all lack in that department except one man (laughing).
“You can’t just think about a second place as a loss, right? So it’s kind of hard to tell you ahead of time, but obviously my goal in my mind is I’m having a better year.”
In an early dress-rehearsal for what’s to be a likely storyline throughout this calendar year, Rahm tees up this week on the Plantation Course in Kapalua with the game’s second best player, Collin Morikawa also in the field.
The Open champion, who also won the DP World Tour title and the WGC-Workday Championship, is currently the biggest threat to Rahm’s reign atop the men’s golf charts yet although the American could leapfrog Rahm with a solo second finish – if the Spaniard finishes outside the top-5 – the 27-year old father of one Rahm isn’t fearful of his rivals; he’s just comfortable in the fact his number one status is validation for all that’s gone before.
“Well, it’s still something you got to earn, right? Meaning, I’m No. 1 because of how I played in the past, so if I want to stay here I got to keep playing at the level and trying to get better,” Rahm insisted.
“At the end of the day, I focus on myself. I try to improve my game and improve my level of golf. If I can do that and play the way I know I can play, everything else should take care of itself. I’m not thinking constantly, ‘Oh, he’s No. 2’ or ‘he’s coming for me, I need to do this or that’.
“No, I’m trying to play the best that I can and hopefully win a tournament.”
Should Morikawa oust Rahm from top spot this week in Kapalua, the 24-year old would become only the fourth player to occupy the number one ranking before the age of 25, with Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy the only players on golf’s roster who can boast such an achievement.
Seamus Power, courtesy of his breakthrough Barbasol win last year, is the only Irishman in the no-cut 39-player field this week with Rory McIlroy opting to start his season in the Middle East.
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