Less than a week after he was the lone amateur to make the cut at the U.S. Open, Jon Rahm has turned pro.
The former Arizona State phenom and reigning Pacific-12 champion will play at Congressional this week, competing in the Quicken Loans National for his first professional tournament on a sponsor’s exemption.
“Obviously last week was really special,” Rahm said Tuesday. “It wasn’t only my last amateur event but it was an iconic golf course like Oakmont, U.S. Open. . . . This week, I couldn’t be more excited. . . . My expectations were really high when I came here, and the golf course just exceeded them all. It’s a beautiful golf course.”
Despite the prospect of a paycheck should he make the cut, Rahm said he wants to maintain his approach entering this week’s event.
Money “really shouldn’t make a difference, but just going back to the basics of golf is making the least amount of strokes possible,” Rahm said. “If you make the least amount of strokes, you’re going to make the most amount of money. It’s never been about the money for me. Since I was a kid I had the dream to become a great player, and that’s the only thing I have in mind. It’s never been about the money.”
Jordan Niebrugge, a recent graduate of Oklahoma State University, also will be making his professional debut this week.
“Me and my family thought it was best for me to finish all four years and end up graduating from OSU, and I think that was a great decision,” Niebrugge said. “I got better over the last couple years and I’m proud to say that I ended up finishing out at OSU and it definitely made me into a better player.”
Rickie Fowler was one of many high-profile golfers who jumped on social media to defend Dustin Johnson during Sunday’s controversy at the U.S. Open. Johnson’s ball moved slightly on the fifth green, and though neither Johnson nor the official with his group thought he caused the movement, the USGA assessed him a one-stroke penalty after the round.
“It’s virtually impossible to make a hard enough swing next to the ball to make the ball oscillate or move,” Fowler said Tuesday. “And the fact that the ball moved backwards up the hill, the putter never touched the ball. . . . I can guarantee you he had no influence on that ball moving.”
Fowler said that if the same set of circumstances took place on the PGA Tour, the situation likely would have been handled differently.
“It’s something that would be handled on the spot, and I don’t see things being assessed after the round a whole lot,” Fowler said. “It might be something you’ll look at on video after the round, but it doesn’t happen very often.”