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Jon Rahm hopes TOC win starts ‘tear’ to begin ’23

January 8, 2023; Maui, Hawaii, USA; Jon Rahm celebrates after making his putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort - The Plantation Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Rahm already has a trip to the island paradise of Maui behind him in 2023, not to mention a tournament victory to go with the visit.

However, the idyllic start to the new year has failed to provide contentment for the former No. 1 player in the world.

What Rahm’s victory earlier this month in the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, Hawaii, has done is to light a fire for what could be one of the best seasons in an already accomplished career for the native of Spain.

“To start 2023 with a win, let’s just say it maximizes my opportunities to get as many wins as possible; it’s a great start,” Rahm said Wednesday. “I said it a few times too, I’ve seen a few players win that event and then go on a tear for a year. Like Cam Smith being the last one last year.

“So I’m hoping it’s one of those (years) that can start properly and get a couple wins and hopefully a major in there.”

If a hot start is what Rahm is chasing, he could not be in a better spot this week. He is set to begin The American Express in the California desert on Thursday, an event he won in 2018 when it was known as the CareerBuilder Challenge.

It was just the second win in Rahm’s career, and his only one in 2018, but it enabled him to continue his current streak of one tournament victory in each of the last seven calendar years, with his 2023 win already in the bank.

Last year’s visit to The American Express, played over three golf courses at La Quinta, Calif., was an interesting one for Rahm, when his comments between holes were captured on video and posted to Twitter.

Rahm, who finished tied for 14th place in 2022, bristled at the course’s traditional setup, with dormant Bermuda grass outside of the fairways instead of rough. With hitting greens in regulation less of a challenge, Rahm was caught saying the week was akin to a “putting contest.”

“Yeah, I’m thinking that last year’s comments might come bite me in the ass, although it was more venting off on the golf course,” said Rahm, currently ranked No. 4 in the world. “I think for me it’s obviously a great event and it’s got a lot of history with (Arnold Palmer’s) legacy here as well. I’ve loved it every time I’ve come here, despite what I said on the golf course last year. That’s just a player letting out some frustration.”

Rahm, whose only major victory was in the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, Calif., seems to be in a better mindset now. He has three of his eight tournament victories in California, including his first-ever win at the Farmers Insurance Open in 2017 at Torrey Pines.

Four of the next five events on the PGA Tour are in California and the U.S. Open is at Los Angeles Country Club later this year.

“I’m glad you have an event like this one to basically settle in,” Rahm said. “Hopefully get another win like I did a few years ago and get the year started properly. Besides being a great event with a lot of history, it’s a great way to test yourself and reaffirm what you’ve been doing.”

–Field Level Media