It’s worth noting right off the bat that what Jon Rahm did Tuesday at Augusta National has been done before. At least a couple of other competitors practicing for the Masters have managed to skip a ball across the pond at the 16th hole and nestle it into the cup.
From pond to pin! Rahm skips to a hole-in-one on No. 16 at #themasters pic.twitter.com/JNNPWgW9OP— The Masters (@TheMasters) November 10, 2020
That’s one 4-iron, three hops off the water, a few more up the embankment and onto the green, and then a gorgeous, counterclockwise sweep into the cup. It wasn’t even the first practice-round hole-in-one this week for Rahm, who used a 5-iron at the fourth hole Monday to drain that ace.
“The craziest thing. The second hole-in-one of the week,” said Rahm, the world’s second-ranked player. “It could go two ways, right? Something special going on, or I’m just running out of luck already. So I don’t know. I knew it would be a special week given it’s my birthday today, so I’m hoping it’s the beginning of a lot of good things to come.”
Rahm turned 26 on Tuesday, and his enormous skill and some good fortune combined to give him quite the present. Now he’s hoping to earn a green jacket in what would be the Spaniard’s first win at a major.
Rahm has posted top-10 results in each of the past two Masters, including a fourth-place effort in 2018. He finished tied for third at the 2019 U.S. Open and tied for fourth at the 2018 PGA Championship. He has tasted victory in five PGA Tour events, including two this year, and in six more on the European Tour since 2017.
As with so many golfers, Rahm sees the Masters in a different light than other tournaments, and he is eager to continue his nation’s success at Augusta.
Spain’s Seve Ballesteros won the Masters twice (1980, 1983), as did José María Olazábal (1994, 1999), and Sergio Garcia broke through in 2017 for the first major win of his decorated career. Garcia, 40, is set to miss this year’s tournament after testing positive for the coronavirus.
“There’s such Spanish history of champions here, with three great champions and three idols of mine,” Rahm said before Tuesday’s practice round. “Five green jackets go out to Spain. Hopefully I can be the sixth.”
Rahm added that he was “feeling pretty confident” about his chances this week, and after seeing that shot at the 16th, who could blame him?
That said, Vijay Singh finished tied for 30th in the 2009 Masters and Martin Kaymer tied for 44th in 2012 after both drained their pond-skipping shots at the 16th.
It’s one of the Masters’ many, many traditions that, during their practice rounds, competitors are encouraged by crowds at that hole to “Skip it!” Usually, players hit a normal tee shot and then walk up to front of the pond, take another ball out and see it they can hit that one low but leave it high and dry.
It is unclear whether any other pro golfers apart from Rahm, Singh and Kaymer have managed to hit holes-in-one on the pond shots.
There may be no topping the hole-in-one off Louis Oosthuizen’s 7-iron at the 2016 Masters. The shot landed nicely on the 16th green and began tracking left toward the cup, but there was one big problem. A ball hit moments before by J.B. Holmes had itself wound up near the hole and was sitting in the way.
The South African’s ball glanced off Holmes’s and took a rightward turn before an almost magical course correction.
Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner who finished second at the 2012 Masters (you might remember his astonishing albatross at the par-5 second hole that year), is bringing a No. 19 world ranking into this year’s Masters. The 38-year-old notched a third-place performance at the most recent major, September’s U.S. Open.
Rahm is one of just four golfers to win a PGA event in each of the past four seasons, joining Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson. “Hopefully something special happens this weekend,” Rahm said Tuesday while making it clear that playing at Augusta always provides a sensation unlike any other.
“I always get the same feel as I did the first time when I go down Magnolia Lane,” he declared. “Each day — yesterday, today, tomorrow and every day this week — I’m still going to have those butterflies in my stomach, because it’s such an iconic place for golfers.”
The Masters: What to read
The Masters moved from April to November this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
• Who can win, who can but won’t and who to pick | Best bets and gambling advice
• At the Masters, Tiger Woods walks in two worlds
• Bryson DeChambeau has a scientist’s mind in a linebacker’s body
• Jon Rahm’s pond-skipping hole-in-one at Augusta has been done before but was still incredible
• Golf bet big on legalized sports gambling. It’s paying off.
• 2019 Masters: Tiger Woods gives golf another unforgettable moment — and begins a new chapter