‘Rambo’ wins New Year opener on US Soil – First blood to Europe in 2023

Fatiha Betscher
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Jon Rahm (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Jon ‘Rambo’ Rahm has drawn first blood to Europe with his tearaway victory in the 2023 opening Sentry Tournament of Champions (TOC)

Rahm came from seven shots back at the start of the final round and despite a bogey at the first, he posted a blistering 10-under 63 to win by two shots at 27-under-par on the host Kapalua course in Hawaii.

The champion Spaniard was competing in a regular PGA Tour event for the first time since ending 2022 in capturing the DP World Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Rahm has won three of his last five starts – 1st 2022 Acciona Espana Open, T4th CJ Cup, 1st 2022 DP World Tour Championship, T8th Hero World Challenge and 1st Sentry TOC.

“I’ve said it before a few times at the end of last year. It doesn’t really feel that different to earlier in the year. It’s just the results I felt like I could produce just hadn’t come yet,” said Rahm.

“But if you look at numbers, I think the main difference is I have been a bit more accurate on my approach shots but mainly making putts. I got a lot more comfortable with my putting. And, again, the last four or five months my putting has been about as good as it’s ever been.”

Victory for Rahm is also his eighth PGA Tour title and the 17th win in his professional career, and it also continues a trend in having now captured at least one tournament each year since winning the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open.

As well, Rahm’s victory in Hawaii is only a third European success in the 70th anniversary of the event with fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia capturing the title in 2003 while Daniel Chopra won five years later in 2008.

Rahm remains at No. 5 in the world while he has unseated Rory McIlroy as No.1 on the European Ryder Cup ‘World’ points table.

And in speaking about the Ryder Cup, you could argue it’s a big boost for European golf at the start of the real business side of 2023 Ryder Cup selection.

Jon Rahm – With Victory in the 2023 Sentry TOC

  • Victory is Jon Rahm eighth PGA TOUR success in his 133rd start and wins for the seventh consecutive Tour season
  • Rahm becomes the first player to follow a runner-up finish with a victory the following season at the Sentry Tournament of Champions since Vijay Singh in 2007; the last to perform the feat on TOUR was Scottie Scheffler at the 2022 World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play
  • After entering the day seven strokes back, Rahm equals the largest come-from-behind win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions (Gary Player/1978); is the largest come-from-behind win on TOUR since Sam Burns came from seven back to overtake Scottie Scheffler at the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge
  • Picks up his eighth PGA TOUR victory in his 133rd start at the age of 28 years, 1 month and 29 days
  • Earns 550 points and moves to No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings
  • Final-round 63 is the lowest finish by a winner since Tom Kim’s 61 to win the 2022 Wyndham Championship
  • Becomes the first player to follow a runner-up finish with a victory the following season at the Sentry Tournament of Champions since Vijay Singh in 2007; the last to perform the feat on TOUR was Scottie Scheffler at the 2022 World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play
  • Entered the day trailing Collin Morikawa by seven strokes, equalling the largest come-from-behind victory at the event (Gary Player/1978); is the largest come-from-behind win on TOUR since Sam Burns came from seven behind to overtake Scottie Scheffler at the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge
  • Shared the first-round lead following a 9-under 64; joins Tony Finau (Cadence Bank Houston Open) as the only first-round leaders/co-leaders to go on to win this season
  • After Americans won the event 11 straight seasons from 2011-2021, becomes the second-consecutive international winner of the event (Cameron Smith/2022)
  • Wins for the seventh consecutive season on the PGA TOUR
  • Has six top-10 finishes in as many starts at the event, including runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2022

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