$5 million payday: Jon Rahm joins Seve Ballesteros in European record books

Karim Sahib/AFP

$5 million payday: Jon Rahm joins Seve Ballesteros in European record books

Euro Tour

$5 million payday: Jon Rahm joins Seve Ballesteros in European record books

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Jon Rahm might not hole a more lucrative putt than the five-footer he made for birdie on the 18th green in the final round of the $8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. Each foot was worth exactly $1 million.

Five million dollars for five feet. The richest putt ever holed in European Tour history. Rahm earned the $3 million first-place check for winning his second DP World Tour Championship, Dubai title, and a further $2 million bonus for finishing the season as No. 1 on the Race to Dubai.

The Arizona State grad joins the late Seve Ballesteros in the European Tour record books. Rahm is the second Spaniard, and first since Ballesteros in 1991, to end a season as European No. 1.

“It’s really so hard to believe that some of the greatest champions in European golf and Spanish golf haven’t been able to accomplish what I have in just three years,” the 25-year-old Rahm said.

DP World Tour Championship, Dubai: Scores

“So many great players throughout the history of Spain that have had a chance and they didn’t get it done. It’s just hard to put that in perspective to know that since Seve, I’m the next one to get it done.

“It just doesn’t feel like it’s true. It’s hard to believe.”

Rahm’s birdie putt on the 72nd green gave him a closing 68 to help him finish 19 under, one shot ahead of England’s Tommy Fleetwood. France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera placed third on 17 under.

Rahm had a six-shot lead at one point in the final round, but arrived on the 16th tee feeling shaky after a three-putt bogey at 15, and knowing Fleetwood was making a charge.

“I heard Jack Nicklaus talk about it, about his win at the Open at Muirfield. He said he was on the 16th hole as well and told himself, ‘If you finish 3, 4, 4, which there is birdie, par, par, you win the tournament.’ I told myself on 16 before I hit the tee shot, ‘If you finish 4, 3, 3, you win the golf tournament, no matter what anybody else does.’ That’s kind of what I said to myself, too, and that’s what I did.”

Rahm arrived in Dubai third on the Race to Dubai behind first-place Bernd Wiesberger and Fleetwood. His fourth Rolex Series tournament win, and sixth European Tour victory enabled him to overtake both. Fleetwood kept his second-place ranking, while Wiesberger dropped to third.

Fleetwood put up a fight with a closing 65. He was looking for his second straight win after last week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge. He set a record then for picking up the biggest first-place check in golf history, one worth $2.5 million. Rahm took that record from him.

“There’s always going to be a little bit of disappointment but, for the most part, I got myself back in it, and I am very proud of the way I played on that back nine,” said Fleetwood, who came home in 31, 5-under. “You know, Jon’s time, Jon’s moment, he’s played unbelievable this year, and you know, fair play.”

Fleetwood earned $888,500 for his second-place finish, and a further $1.2 million for placing second on the Race to Dubai. It took his earnings to $4,588,000 for two weeks work.

Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez never managed to get their hands on the Harry Vardon Trophy awarded annually to Europe’s No. 1 player.

Ballesteros finished European No. 1 on six separate occasions. The question on everyone’s lips as the 2019 European season ended was just how many more times will Rahm finish on top of the European tree?

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