Golf: Jon Rahm serves notice of potential by reaching WGC Dell Match Play semi-finals

James Corrigan
Jon Rahm is a man on a mission  - Getty Images North America

The thing about Jon Rahm is that not only is he the next big thing in golf, but he knows he is the next big thing in golf. Yet even this supremely confident young man has found his display here, in reaching the WGC Dell Match Play semi-finals, highly notable.

It is sometimes easy to forget that the 22-year-old Spaniard has been a professional for less than 10 months and this was another of those days. After hammering Charles Howell III 6&4 in the morning, Rahm drove the nail deep inside Soren Kjeldsen, inflicting a 7&5 shellacking on the unfortunate Dane.

In all he played 27 holes on a Saturday that was “moving day” in that his two rivals were moved quickly out of his way. And if one factors in that he won his last group match on Friday, against countryman Sergio Garcia, 6&4, it means he has played 41 holes to beat three players. For these 41 holes, he is 17-under with no dropped shots. “The golf I've played the last three matches really has been very impressive even to myself,” Rahm said.

If Rahm can win on Sunday he will enter the world’s top 10, although he is already guaranteed a top-20 position. It is an achievement made all the more staggering by the fact this is only his 16th event as a pro. Staggering to everyone but Rahm, that is.

“If someone had told me this in January, yes, I might have believed it,” Rahm said. “And knowing me, I might have also thought, ‘I hope it's better than that. But I do try to stay humble, and honestly I would have taken this. I am guaranteed to come top four in the first two World Golf Championship events I’ve played.”

There was good news for Ross Fisher on Friday

In truth, Rahm looked and sounded rather disgusted only to finish in a tie for third at the WGC Mexico Championship three weeks ago and expect a similar reaction should he not prevail today. However, it will be far from straightfoward.

First he must account for Bill Haas, the American who ended Phil Mickelson’s marvellous run with a 2&1 success, and then Dustin Johnson could stand in his path in the afternoon final. The world No 1 was his usual laidback and peerless self in beating Alex Noren 3&2.

Johnson faces the surprise package of the event, Hideto Taniwara. The Japanese spelt doom for the English challenge, first dispatching Paul Casey 2&1 and then seeing off Ross Fisher 4&2.

There was a huge consolation prize for Fisher, however. By virtue of his display here at Austin Country Club and indeed of his tie for third in Mexico, the 36-year-old from Ascot has clawed his way back into the world’s top 50 and thus has earned himself one of the remaining berths at the Masters. His return ticket to Augusta, after a five-year absence was confirmed when he beat Bubba Watson 4&3.

 “I’m disappointed to have lost but the Masters was the goal at the start of the week,” he said. “It will be a dream come true to have Harry and Eve [his two children] caddie for me in the Par Three Tournament. They were still too young the last time I played, but now they are seven and five - the perfect ages.”

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