Jon Rahm on his Player of the Year snub: 'Finishing runner-up doesn't feel too good,' says it will 'absolutely' fuel his fire

© Provided by Golfweek

NAPA, Calif. – Count Jon Rahm among those who thought Jon Rahm should’ve won the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year Award.

“Finishing runner-up doesn’t feel too good,” said Rahm, who was among the finalists for the Jack Nicklaus Trophy, which was awarded to Patrick Cantlay on Tuesday. (The PGA Tour doesn’t publish the results of the voting so it’s unclear if Rahm actually finished as runner-up among the five candidates.) “I felt like I played good enough to be able to earn that title, but unfortunate situations like the one at Memorial cost me, right? Had I been able to play, maybe win it, I think it would have tipped the balance towards myself. Maybe even play in the Olympics, have a good showing and maybe even earn a medal could have tipped the balance as well.

“It’s tough, you know, but I can say when you’ve won four times in a year, you’re FedEx Cup champion, it’s a very deserving honor, so I’m pretty sure I know Patrick deserves it, but I’ll get my chance.”

Rahm, the World No. 1, recorded 15 top-10 finishes and claimed the U.S. Open in June at Torrey Pines, had the better statistical year and record in the majors, and led Cantlay by six strokes at the Memorial when he had to withdraw after the third round because he tested positive for COVID-19. Cantlay went on to win that title, the FedEx Cup and notched four overall wins. The Player of the Year award is voted on by members of the Tour and Rahm made it quite clear that the snub would provide fuel to his fire.

“Absolutely, yeah,” he said. “I played really good this past season. I mean, I played amazing golf. To think it could have been better does nothing but motivate me. I know I can get better. I do pride myself on consistency, so seeing all those top-10s, it’s a job well done, but hopefully next year I can add a couple more W’s to the stats.”

He failed to activate “Rahmbo mode” on Thursday at Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course, carding just two birdies – both on par 5s – that were canceled out by two bogeys, including a 3-putt at No. 7, for an even-par round of 72 at the Fortinet Championship. That left the 26-year-old Spaniard trailing first-round leader Chez Reavie, who birdied four of the last five holes to shoot 65, by seven strokes at the kickoff event to the Tour’s 2021-22 season.

“I played a little bit better than I thought I was going to, to be honest,” Rahm said.

That’s because Rahm, who tested positive for COVID-19 not once but twice, suffered from a stomach ailment that kept him out of the pro-am on Wednesday and to cancel his pre-tournament press conference. He said he didn’t have a fever and had heard that a stomach bug was going around. He hadn’t eaten a solid meal since Tuesday morning, and lacked his usual mental focus. His body also felt stiff after being in bed for most of Wednesday.

“Stomach just wasn’t agreeing with me. It’s not like I couldn’t have played the pro-am, but I would have had too many unnecessary stops, let’s just say it that way,” he said. “I think a lot of people out there have played with worse. Tiger Woods won a U.S. Open with a broken knee, so I’m OK.”

With the Ryder Cup on the horizon next week, Rahm considered withdrawing from the tournament, but ultimately decided that it would behoove him to get some competitive rounds under his belt.

“I’m going to get better in due time whether I play here or not,” he said. “A good meal tonight and a good night’s sleep and I should be OK.”

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