Irish Open champion Jon Rahm has been honoured with the European Tour’s prestigious ‘Rookie of the Year’ award.
The sometimes fiesty Spaniard was a clear choice for the award following his emphatic Portstewart success and his award follows in the footsteps of compatriot Sergio Garcia who, after winning the 1999 Irish Open, was also voted ‘Rookie of the Year’.
The US-based Rahm becomes the first Spaniard to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award since Pablo Larrazábal in 2008, and the fifth in total, with Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño (2005), Garcia (1999) and Jose Maria Olazábal (1986) also having claimed the honour.
Rahm burst onto the world stage earlier this year holing a long eagle putt at the final hole to capture the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open.
He then joined the European Tour a short time later to finish third in the WGC – Mexico Championship and then after an early final day collapse he fought back tenaciously to finish runner-up to Dustin Johnson in the WGC – Dell Technology Match-Play in Texas.
In May, Rahm brilliantly emulated three of his Spanish golfing heroes – Seve Ballesteros, Olazábal and Garcia – with his stunning success in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open winning at Portstewart with a tournament record-setting four-round total.
Rahm tees-up this week fourth on the Race to Dubai, ranked No. 5 in the world and lying sixth on the 2018 Ryder Cup standings.
“It’s a very, very satisfying feeling to win this award,” he said.
“If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that I would be sitting here – fourth in the Race to Dubai, playing the way I’ve done in the Rolex Series, becoming Rookie of the Year – when I wasn’t even a member at the beginning of the year – it’s a really special feeling.
“I haven’t checked all the names of the people that won this, but I did see Sam Torrance, and I’m guessing there are a lot of other great names too. It’s just a huge honour to be sitting here in this position at this time of the year. I’m really happy and I’m really blessed that I have this opportunity and that I am able to accomplish this award. It’s something I’m really proud of.”
Rahm ended the 2016/17 PGA Tour year with results of third, fourth, fifth and then seventh in the Tour Championship.
Only one Irishman has collected the ‘Rookie of the Year’ title at that was Peter Lawrie in 2003.
Just two Irish in Paul Dunne and Shane Lowry are competing in Dubai and with three in Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Seamus Power competing in the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic in Georgia.