Jon Rahm rightly believes that on his day, nobody can live with him, but ahead of this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, he wasn’t short of praise for his two main rivals, Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler.
The Spaniard finally returned to the summit of the world golf rankings courtesy of his fifth win in nine worldwide starts at the Genesis last month. Rahm’s felt for some time that his golf was worthy of the recognition but that’s not to say he hasn’t been impressed with the incredible standard set by his two main rivals for the number one throne.
“I mean, they’re both great competitors, great, great competitors,” Rahm said. “Rory, it’s hard to say anything about Rory that hasn’t been said already. When he’s firing on all cylinders, it’s a thing of beauty. The way he hits the ball and his ball flight off the tee, especially, is quite unique.
“Scottie, I would say he has a great ability to post a really good score. There’s a lot of times where I’ve played with him and maybe it doesn’t look the prettiest, but you end up the round and, oh, 67. It’s pretty remarkable.
“Obviously both great players, both great champions, both of them work really, really hard at their game. That’s what I would say about each one. I know we mention Rory’s driving all the time, but it really is something to admire when you see it in person.”
There’s no reason to think that the game of musical chairs atop the world golf rankings will end any time soon with Rahm’s spot already under threat at Bay Hill this week for the latest $20m elevated event on the PGA Tour.
For his part, Rahm has relished the tussle for top spot, a place that gives him great satisfaction despite the scrutiny the rankings have received in recent weeks on account of the omission of LIV golfers.
“I mean, it’s been great,” said Rahm. “There’s a lot of satisfaction that comes to it when you get to be No 1 when the other players have been playing great golf as well. Scottie (Scheffler) had a great year last year, Rory (McIlroy) had a great year last year, and then towards the end of the year, I kind of picked up. And even with Scottie winning at Phoenix, I was able to get to No 1 right after.
“So there’s a lot of satisfaction that comes to it. I mean, if you’re going to do it in any way, you want to get to No 1 by winning. I think one of those times that I got to it was after, I think it was JT (Justin Thomas) had a bad finish, and I finished 10th in a tournament and you get back to No 1. That doesn’t feel nearly as well. But when we’ve been playing the way we’ve been playing, it’s a lot of fun.”