After Players controversy, Jon Rahm vows never to lose his fire

Jon Rahm swing

Jon Rahm has no intention of losing his fiery personality, although he does admit he needs to learn to control it better.

The Spaniard was responding to questions about a testy exchange with his caddie during the final round of last week’s Players Championship, an incident which seemed to make him lose his concentration as his challenge faltered on the back nine.

Rahm, who started the final round in the lead, was captured on camera arguing with his caddie over whether to attempt a nearly impossible shot from a fairway bunker on the par-5 11th hole. He wanted to try and go for the green, while his caddie was doing his best to try and talk him out of it.

The caddie lost the argument, and Rahm’s attempt found the water, leading to a bogey that effectively brought his challege to an end, as Rory McIlroy went on to claim the victory.

While Rahm might have blamed himself for attempting the shot, he seemed more upset with his caddie in the immediate aftermath, accusing him of making him lose his confidence with the help of a well-placed F-bomb or two.

And in the holes immediately afterwards, it was clear Rahm had lost his concentration as he seemed on the verge of a meltdown – although he just about managed to hold it together, unlike at the 2017 US Open when he kicked and tossed his clubs and threw a rake in anger.

Rahm admits he is trying hard to curb his enthusiasm, as it were, though he does not want to change his essential fiery nature. It’s a delicate balancing act, and even though he has spoken in the past of being a new man in this respect, it’s clear the old one still surfaces from time to time.

Rahm is quick to point out that he is a passionate man, however, and that’s never going to change entirely, and nor would he want it to.

“No, I’ll never lose that, that is deep in my core, that’s never going away, I can tell you that much,” he told reporters at the Valspar Championship on Wednesday.

“I’m still as competitive and things still hurt me, they still piss me off, they still get me mad, and that’s what I hope people can see is how much I’ve come along on that final round to not act like Jon would have acted before.

“It’s been a long way from the U.S. Open at 2017. And that final round [at the Players] was a very disappointing final round, but it helps. I mean, I don’t know what they showed on the broadcast, but when I missed my putt on 12 for birdie and I left it short, I got mad. I got mad, walked to the next tee, stayed mad but still under control. Hit a great shot, made birdie, tied for the lead.

“It’s still a work in progress where you’re saying I don’t want to lose that, I want to keep that fire, that fire’s never going to be away, but I need to be able to use it to my advantage and still try to control and manage my other emotions and reactions better. It’s that simple.”

Rahm points out that many players have been able to figure out this balancing act, and he wants to learn to do the same.

“Some players are really good at it. Seve [Ballesteros] was extremely good at it, Tiger [Woods] is really good at it. Everybody feels the same anger that I do, everybody has that emotion, it’s just how you process it and how you show it,” he said.

“I’m still going to show emotion because I can’t be a robot. You’re going to look at my face and be able to tell if I’m happy or not, if I’m pissed off or tense, that’s just how it is, and I don’t want to lose that because that’s just how I am.

“But still be able to control what happens. And that’s the reason why I was in the lead at the Players.

“Obviously Rory finished the way he did and I finished poorly, but I still held on for a long time. Maybe a couple months ago I would have just disappeared on the first four holes. I don’t think [the old Jon Rahm] would have been able to pull back like I did and still have a chance.”