“Once I got back in the groove,” Rahm said Tuesday at Augusta National, “I learned that when I’m playing good, I can take on the No. 1 player in the world.”
That boldness, the kind once displayed by Rahm’s golfing hero Seve Ballesteros, is bound to make a difference in the Masters, a tournament marked by great risks and great rewards.
“I’m going to tee it up believing that I can win,” said Rahm, who played a practice round Tuesday with Phil Mickelson. “I might do it. I might now but that’s how I do it. That’s what I did at Torrey Pines.”
Still looking for a good reason to believe in Rahm, whose college coach at Arizona State was Lefty’s brother Tim Mickelson? How about this?
Rahm accelerated his mastery of English by absorbing and repeating the lyrics of rap songs by Eminem and Kendrick Lamar.
“It was not necessarily to learn new words but to help with pronunciation and enunciation and to able to pronounce certain words and be able to talk faster, without pausing,” Rahm said. “It really helped me out to be able to keep up with some conversations.”
The kid’s a fast learner, and he doesn’t mind trying new things, like trying to be the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win the Masters on his first visit here.
Rahm tees off Thursday at 1:41 p.m. with Rory McIlroy and Hideto Tanihara, a 14-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour and a semifinalist at the recent WGC Match Play event.
If you’re wondering why a rookie rates such a feature pairing, Rahm has risen to No. 12 in the Official World Golf Rankings, just behind Sergio Garcia and ahead of Masters champions Willett, Mickelson and Bubba Watson.