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Jon Rahm reveals clubfoot as reason for short backswing

Jun 20, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; Jon Rahm celebrates with the trophy after winning he U.S. Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 20, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; Jon Rahm celebrates with the trophy after winning he U.S. Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Rahm, who arrived at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England, as the favorite to win this week’s Open Championship, revealed during a press conference that he overcame being born with a clubbed foot on his journey to golfing greatness.

The Spaniard who won last month’s U.S. Open was responding to a question about how he works on the mechanics of his swing, which features a notably shorter backswing than most of his PGA Tour peers.

“I have the swing I have, and I’ve gotten more mobile and stronger in some parts of my swing so that might slightly change it,” Rahm said. “But I have certain unique parts and certain unique, let’s say, physical limitations that let me swing the way I swing, and I don’t deviate from that.”

A follow-up question about what those limitations were produced Rahm’s disclosure.

The Mayo Clinic defines clubfoot as a range of fairly common congenital foot abnormalities where the tendons are shorter than usual.

Rahm, 26, said that when he was born, his right foot was turned 90 degrees inside from the usual resting foot position.

“So when I was born, they basically relocated, pretty much broke every bone in the ankle… within 20 minutes of being born from the knee down,” Rahm said. “So I have very limited ankle mobility in my right leg. It’s a centimeter and a half shorter.”

For a time, he recalled, his foot had to be re-casted every week at a local hospital.

“What I mean by limitations is I didn’t take a full swing because my right ankle doesn’t have the mobility or stability to take it,” he said. “I learned at a very young age that I’m going to be more efficient at creating power and be consistent from a short swing.”

The obstacle didn’t prevent Rahm from growing into one of the strongest players in the game. He has spent some time at the No. 1 ranking in the world this season, including right after his first major victory at the U.S. Open, but this week Dustin Johnson eked back in front of him for the top spot.

Rahm’s best finish in four Open starts is a T11 in 2019. But he’s placed in the top 10 of all three majors so far this season: He finished in a tie for fifth at the Masters and tied for eighth at the PGA Championship before his U.S. Open breakthrough.

Rahm was grouped with defending Open champion Shane Lowry of Ireland and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen for the first two rounds, beginning Thursday at 9:58 a.m. local time (4:58 a.m. ET).

–Field Level Media