Jon Rahm had already made progress on curbing his fiery nature since his disappointing finish to his third round at the PGA Championship last month, making careless mistakes that left him too far back to mount a serious threat to Phil Mickelson’s title charge.
Although the Spaniard’s refreshed composure had the desired effect on his all-round form at Muirfield Village a fortnight ago, when he was three-quarters of the way to a dominant victory before being told he would have to withdraw from the tournament after testing positive for Covid-19.
However, Rahm had revealed that supportive calls from Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington and six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo had helped him cope with the crushing disappointment, and redemption was swift as he produced a spectacular finish to pip Louis Oosthuizen to the US Open title at Torrey Pines.
“I feel like coming in here without having practiced much relaxed me a little bit,” said Rahm, who revealed last weekend that he had been cleared to play after giving two negative tests for coronavirus. “I thought, in case I play bad, I have an excuse, I have a bailout clause. Hey, I had Covid!
“But I feel like it relaxed me a little bit, and ever since the Sunday at the PGA, I felt a bit of a shift on the golf course mentally. I still had that grit, but it was almost like each miss bothered me less. I couldn’t tell you why.
“I believe it’s because I really set out myself to be an example for my son that he would be proud of, and I’ve done some stuff in the past on the golf course that I’m not proud of, and I wish I could eliminate it.
“But I’ve accepted it. I’m not saying it’s going to be smooth sailing until the end, but I feel like that Sunday of the PGA changed things a little bit. My mental game was really good, and it was the same thing at Memorial. Mentally, I was really, really well, and that’s what allowed me to play such good golf.
“It followed into this week. In the past, I’ve been frustrated in the US Open. I’ve made a lot of birdies and a ton of bogeys and double-bogeys, and I was able to kind of switch it up this week and actually made more birdies than bogeys and get it done.”