Spanish powerhouse Jon Rahm has gone to top of the Race to Dubai rankings, overtaking Shane Lowry, after storming his way to a five-shot winning margin in his successful defence of the Spanish Open in Madrid.
Rahm, 24 was in a class all his own posting a final round 66 for a 22-under par tally on the Club de Campo course, where Padraig Harrington captured a first European Tour title 23-years earlier.
In winning a second straight Spanish Open Rahm also became the first Spaniard since Marcelino Morcillo in 1948 and 1949 to win back-to-back Spanish Open titles and the victory is Rahm’s ninth pro career success and his second this season after winning a second Dubai Duty Free Irish Open title in three years.
The US-based Rahm has spoken often of all Spanish golfers walking a path created for them by the late, great Seve Ballesteros and Rahm has now reached five European Tour victories in 10 fewer events than his hero at the venue where Ballesteros claimed his 50th and final European Tour victory 24 years ago in 1995.
In fact, it took Seve 49 starts to capture five European Tour titles and Rahm has done that in 39 starts, with his success this week thanks in no small measure to Saturday’s stunning third round 63 that included an inward half of 28 in his eight-under par 63.
Rahm took a five-shot lead into the final day and extended that to eight shots courtesy of a fourth hole eagle ‘3’ and then birdies at seven, nine, ten and another at fourteen.
Compatriot Rafa Cabrera-Bello, with renowned Dublin caddy Colin Byrne on the bag, cut that lead to just five shots when he eagled the par-4 16th and Rahm then bogeyed the 17th ahead of Cabrera-Bello also shooting 66 to finish runner-up at 17-under par.
There was no denying Rahm who returns to the States having now contested 12 European Tour counting events this year to be 83-under par for his 45 rounds of competition.
“I was not happy three-putting 17 as I wanted to complete today bogey-free but still the important thing I was able to successfully defend the title, and in front of a home crowd,” he said.
“It may not have been the strongest field this week but it is always really hard for to keep everything under control and to play the way I did over the weekend for them was great fun.
“I can’t wait now to come back next year and do it three times.”
If he is successful in 2020, Rahm would be only the second Spaniard in 103-years to accomplish the feat while he would also match Ballesteros who won three Spanish Open titles.
Rahm arrived in the Spanish capital trailing 97 Race to Dubai points behind Shane Lowry, who has spent this past week in ‘daddy mode’ while his wife, Wendy was away for the week and the win in Madrid has seen Rahm now move 358 points clear of Lowry.
Lowry has been atop of the rankings since July and capturing the Open Championship but has now been bumped back to second. However, Lowry can rectify that at this week’s $US 7m Italian Open in Rome with Rahm not playing and the pair not teeing-up in the same European Tour event until the October 31st starting WGC- HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Joining Lowry in Rome will be Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, winner of the event in 2004.
RACE TO DUBAI RANKINGS – Irish
2nd Shane Lowry (Down one)
27th Rory McIlroy (Unchanged)
111th Paul Dunne (Down 5)
149th Graeme McDowell (Unchanged)
145th Padraig Harrington (Down one)
161st Gavin Moynihan (Down two)