Arizona State wins behind Rahm's 21-under 192
Sometimes in golf you get lucky.
Arizona State sophomore Jon Rahm certainly felt that way about some of his shots at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational Friday through Sunday. But it wasn't all luck – Rahm and Arizona State ran away with victories after the second-year player shot a 21-under 192.
Oh, and he ended his tournament with a double bogey.
"I don't know how I can explain it. All I know is that before I was talking to my coaches and I was like, 'Yeah, I feel pretty good about this tournament,'" Rahm said. "It was my intention to shoot as low as I could, but I was planning on shooting close to 10 under. It was a pretty good surprise."
The Sun Devils took a 20-stroke win over Iowa at the par-71, 7,013-yard ASU Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz.
Rahm's luck kicked in on Saturday when he made two eagles on par 4s.
The first came at the 323-yard, par-4 second hole. Rahm hit a "huge driver" to the green, leaving a 45-foot putt for eagle. He said he "got lucky" and drained it.
"That gave me a lot of confidence for the tournament," Rahm said.
But Rahm wasn't done.
The sophomore was going for the long ball once again at the 350-yard, par-4 13th, but he pushed his drive right. Luckily, Rahm hit Phil Mickelson, Sr.'s cart, which was sitting on the cart path pin high. Mickelson's son, Tim, is the Arizona State head coach. The ball kicked back toward the hole and left Rahm with a 25-yard chip for eagle. He made it, of course.
All in all, Rahm made 20 birdies, two eagles, one bogey and a double bogey through three rounds of golf. The native of Spain entered the final hole with the chance to shoot a sub-190 total, something Tim Mickelson said he's never heard of in college golf.
Rahm was playing it safe, but hit a chunky shot and watched his ball plop in the water.
"I was pretty (mad) because for the first time in the round I was trying to be safe," Rahm said. "I realized 21 under is still great. I wasn't mad after about 10 yards of walking to the ball."
Rahm felt he held the advantage with his ability to hit the ball long and straight on a course that he said has narrow fairways. His performance led Arizona State to its first solo win under Mickelson, who is in his third year of coaching the team.
"It was really special for me to share my individual win with a team win," Rahm said. "I think this is going to be great for us, because we were waiting for this moment. It's going to be a really big push for our confidence."
Said Mickelson: "This is a guy that usually says he plays better on tough golf courses. If you look at his good rounds in the past, he shot 64 and 65 in back-to-back rounds at Pumpkin Ridge, which has hosted the U.S. Amateur. He shot 61 at nationals in the first round, which is always at a tough course. He thrives at tougher courses, and, for whatever reason, felt really comfortable this week. It seemed like every three holes he made birdie."
Rahm shattered the previous tournament record, beating it by seven strokes, and topped the Arizona State 54-hole record by five strokes.
Iowa (15 under), Arizona (5 under), Pepperdine (4 under) and Iowa State (1 under) rounded out the top five.
Sophomore Max Rottluff is the only other Sun Devil to finish in the top 10. He shot a 4-under 209 and finished T-8.
"(The win's) going to give them some more confidence than a regular win, because they won by 20 shots and if you asked everybody but Jon, they didn't feel great about their game," Mickelson said. "Not only were they able to win, but they were able to win without their A game."