Jon Rahm draws parallel to Tiger Woods as he looks to keep hot streak alive at Arnold Palmer Invitational
Making comparisons to Tiger Woods is a stupid idea; however, drawing parallels with arguably the greatest player of all time is another story entirely. Drawing a parallel is precisely the approach that world No. 1 John Rahm is taking ahead of the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational, aiming for his fourth victory in 2023 and sixth in his last 10 world starts this week at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge.
Ram’s current run really evokes a feeling that only Woods can appreciate. With his victory at the 2023 Genesis Invitational, he became the fastest player to win three titles in a calendar year since Johnny Miller in 1975. Claims that it is “inevitable” have been scattered all over the internet. Nicknames such as “Buoy” were voiced. Despite this greatness and his usual presence on the front page of the leaderboard, the Spaniard has yet to piece together the entire puzzle over all four days of competition.
“The thing is, you don’t have to go all out to win,” Ram said. “I actually had a similar conversation with Tiger. I asked him, out of 82 PGA Tour wins, I didn’t make the rest, how many times do you think you had the best result in all four days? And he said, “At best, three. Right? Many of those Sundays he played his best, but all week he played very little.”
The scary thing is that Ram is right.
In the 38-player Tournament of Champions, Ram finished 33rd in hits and reps. At the American Express, he lost over two hits in two measured rounds at the Stadium Course at PGA West. At the Genesis Invitational, Ram struggled on the green and handled the ball poorly compared to his standards. However, the victories continue.
So the question arises: what does it look like for Ram to work on all cylinders, and has this happened before?
“I enjoyed a really good game of golf. The only time I can say that I shot my best was when I failed to finish the tournament,” Ram said, referring to the 2021 Memorial Tournament. “So I would like to see what it was like. It all depends on who you are talking to and at what level. we do not give ourselves such, quite such an assessment for all four days. I think a lot of us probably know, which is probably why Tiger has said maybe just a few times in his career.”
Before he was forced to withdraw after the third round of the 2021 Memorial due to testing positive for COVID-19, Ram had a six-stroke lead. He averaged +5.12 tee-to-green shots, +1.37 tee shots, +3.05 approach shots, +0.70 shots around the green, and +1.88 shots from putting. per round.
He scored seven hits on the field in a day.
These cases are few; they don’t make a career if it’s on a run-of-the-mill stop on the PGA Tour, but they do make a week. The greats can win their B game, maybe even the C game, as Woods did all too often en route to his 82 PGA Tour wins, and as Ram sometimes does now.
At best, perfection happened in just three tournaments. For the greatest right now, just once every three days. However, it is this desire that makes them who they are. The desire to reach new heights, the desire to go where no golfer has gone before, the search for the unattainable. This mindset has served Woods well, and it helps Ram.
“Well, the 2000 US Open, the 2000 Open, and I think you can pick any other win in 2000,” Ram said of the three Woods tournaments mentioned. “Those two, I sort of mentioned, and he said he agreed with those two. I don’t know what else…
“No, [it wasn’t the 1997 Masters] because on that front nine he threw 4 overs… He only won by 12. Imagine that.”