PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland – Even the prospect of a two-shot penalty couldn’t stop Jon Rahm from a runaway victory in the $7 million Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
Rahm could have taken the penalty for incorrectly replacing his ball on the sixth green and would have still walked away from Portstewart with a record-breaking win. He was cleared of any wrong doing by European Tour chief referee Andy McFee.
A final round of 7-under 65 gave Rahm a 24-under 264 to break two Irish Open records. His total bettered the previous low 72-hole score shared by Colin Montgomerie (2001) and Ross Fisher (2010) by a shot. His 24 under betters Christy O’Connor Jr.’s 21 under in 1975.
Rahm pocketed a check for $1,166,660. Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and Matthew Southgate of England shared second place at 18 under. They earned $607,985 each.
There was a sense of déjà vu for Rahm. He won the Farmers Insurance Open in January, his first PGA Tour win, with a closing 65. Rahm’s Irish 65 was helped enormously when he holed his second shot at the fourth hole for an eagle.
“That makes two for two, shooting 65 in the final round,” Rahm said. “Obviously, it’s a very different tournament here for me. I’ve been saying I haven’t played my best golf, and today, for 15 holes, I played the best golf I can ever play on the golf course with the weather that we had. Obviously, the bonus of holing out on four was great, but man, this is a nice feeling.”
The 22-year-old Spaniard won his second tournament in only his 25th start as a professional. He only needed 12 starts to win his first PGA Tour event. It’s taken him just seven to win his first European Tour event. He joins compatriots Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros as winners of one of Europe’s oldest tournaments.
Rahm has a week off before he turns up for the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
“I know what I’m capable of,” he said. “I can imagine there will be some expectations. But that’s why I’m taking a week off, regroup and go to The Open like nothing happened, but knowing in my mind that I can perform at my best.”
Ramsay and fourth-place finishers David Drysdale and Ryan Fox received spots into the Open Championship as the three players in the top 10 not otherwise exempt into Royal Birkdale. Drysdale took his spot with a course-record 63 after birdieing his final seven holes.