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Jon Rahm enters playoffs well rested, but worried about rust

Jul 18, 2021; Sandwich, England, GBR; Jon Rahm plays his shot from the ninth tee during the final round of the Open Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 18, 2021; Sandwich, England, GBR; Jon Rahm plays his shot from the ninth tee during the final round of the Open Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Jon Rahm teed it up on United States soil, he won his first major title at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

That was two months ago.

The top-ranked Spaniard finished seventh at the Scottish Open and tied for third at The Open Championship. Then came his second positive COVID-19 test, knocking Rahm out of the Olympics and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

Rahm arrived in Jersey City, N.J., for this week’s The Northern Trust well rested but also concerned about his forced monthlong hiatus from competition entering the FedEx Cup playoffs.

“I’m probably going to be a little bit more rested than most people, but at the same time, I haven’t played competitively in four weeks,” he said Tuesday. “So there might be a slight bit of rust, but I’m pretty sure that’s going to go quickly just because of how happy and how excited I am to be back and be competing.”

Rahm has four consecutive top-10s in events he has completed and had a commanding lead after 54 holes of the Memorial when he was forced to withdraw due to his first positive COVID-19 test. Overall, he has 12 top-10s in his past 16 worldwide starts not including the Memorial.

Despite the layoff, Rahm is the +800 favorite at DraftKings ahead of The Northern Trust. The next-shortest odds belong to Jordan Spieth at +1200.

Whether it’s the break between events or the short odds, Rahm has been lightly backed at the sportsbook with just one percent of the total bets and three percent of the outright winner money placed on Rahm as of Tuesday afternoon.

Rahm continues his quest for his first FedEx Cup title on Thursday. He’s also firmly in the running for player of the year honors.

The last time he returned from a positive COVID-19 test, Rahm won a major. He’s convinced he did not have the virus this time around and is disappointed at having to miss the Olympics and enter the playoffs coming off an extended break.

“It sucked because I wanted to represent Spain,” he said. “It was more devastating in that sense. I was more in the mindset of playing for them more than me.

“Still makes me a little sad, I’m not going to lie. I’m going to have to wait three more years hopefully to qualify for the Olympics, but I was really ready for this one.”

The silver lining? Rahm is fresh heading into a grueling three-week stretch of playoff events.

“As unfortunate as it was, it gave me some time to rest,” he said. “So I think, maybe not this week but looking into the next few weeks, probably physically, mentally, I’ve been more rested than everybody else.

“So that could be my advantage.”

Rahm enters the playoffs fifth in the standings and is a big fan of Liberty National, where he finished third the last time it played host to The Northern Trust in 2019.

“The next two weeks, obviously the goal is to win, but the main goal is to get to the last event, to get to East Lake to the Tour Championship in as high rank as possible,” he said. “So got to keep the good play going, and like I said, I’ll take it week to week hopefully.

“I want to hopefully win those events as well, but the important one is the last one. So it’s a bit of kind of like a qualifying few rounds where you’re just trying to get ready and get positioned for the Tour Championship.”

–Field Level Media