Mexico Open at Vidanta: Jon Rahm a winner again after ending drought at Vallarta

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Jon Rahm started the Mexico Open at Vidanta as a hot favourite to lift the trophy. Some scoffed at his short odds given that the 27-year-old hadn't posted a victory on the PGA Tour since capturing the US Open at Torrey Pines last June. But Rahm had the last laugh. The Spaniard took a share of the lead on day one after an excellent 7-under 64 in calm scoring conditions and moved two clear at halfway with a 66. He wobbled a little on Saturday but birdied the final two holes to keep that two-shot advantage ahead of the final round thanks to a 68. And on Sunday he held the chasing pack at bay, shooting a two-under 69 to finish at 17-under: one shot in front of Brandon Wu, Tony Finau and Kurt Kitayama.

Davis Riley took solo fifth as the final leaderboard at Vallarta showed Rahm as the only non-American in the top 15. The wire-to-wire victory gave Rahm a seventh PGA Tour title and moved him to No.6 in the FedEx Cup standings. It also solidified his position as World No.2.

Rahm reviews winning week

Speaking about his win which was secured with a two-putt from 23 feet on the par-5 closing hole, a relieved Rahm said: "Thursday, Friday I played amazing and I was in incredible control of my game. Seemed like really nothing could go wrong. "Yesterday I played really good tee to green, just couldn't make the putts. Today felt good but I just couldn't quite get started. I was making good swings early on and wasn't quite hitting it as close as I wanted to and didn't really have the best chances to make the putts. "Got going. I mean, played 6, 7 and 8 and 9 beautifully. That stretch, I made those birdies on 6 and 7, but 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 is where I think could be a key stretch. I feel like if you play those holes before getting to 12 in under par, you're gaining on the field.

"And I had my chances, I had my putts and I just didn't make them. I think that could have been where I could have extended my lead two or three shots instead of just staying one ahead. You know, it is what it is. "I was still trying to be aggressive on the par 5s and I couldn't get things done. But that birdie on 14 was key. That was one good putt that I saw go in and it was a very good visual. "Then making a par putt on 15 as well was massive because if I had given that stroke back after that tee shot, that would have been a big loss. "The only thing I keep going back to today is 17. I thought that putt was absolute centre of the hole and it just snapped left at the end. "It would have been a lot easier to play 18 with a two-shot lead, let me tell you, instead of being the stress that it was. "Still, I've had the enjoyable walk in the past and I think this is the first time I had to, you know, kind of buckle up and finish it in style and strong and I was able to do it. You know, I'll take it. My first wire-to-wire victory and even though it was hard at the end, I'll take it."

Rahm passes short game test

Jon Rahm at the 2022 Masters
Jon Rahm at the 2022 Masters

Rahm came into the week with doubts over his short game. Before teeing off in Mexico he ranked 196th in Sand Saves, 173rd in Strokes Gained: Around The Green and 132nd in SG: Putting. Speaking after his win, he said: "I got a little tired answering questions about stats and putting and short game and this and that." So was short-game improvement the key to victory here? Looking at the numbers, Rahm ranked 22nd for SG: Around The Green, 18th in SG: Putting and saved par twice in three attempts when bunkered. Given that his victory margin was just a single stroke, it's fair to say his solid work on and around the greens certainly made a crucial difference.

Fate of the favourites

Rahm was the hot favourite at around 4/1 to take victory but how did the other leading players in the betting fare? Tony Finau and Aaron Wise were both in the top five in the betting and justified that status by finishing tied second and tied sixth respectively. The big disappointment was local hero Abraham Ancer. The Mexican was ranked second to Rahm but never got going and finished in a tie for 42nd. Gary Woodland was another expected to shine but had to settle for tied 24th.

What's next?

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

The PGA Tour now heads to TPC Potomac at Avenel in Maryland for the Wells Fargo Championship.

Rory McIlroy is the defending champion although he won the title at Quail Hollow in North Carolina.

The Northern Irishman will be playing for the first time since he shot a sparkling 64 in round four of The Masters to finish runner-up to Scottie Scheffler.

The article Mexico Open at Vidanta: Jon Rahm a winner again after ending drought at Vallarta appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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