No Green Jacket but Rahm still has reason to smile

Golf - The Masters - Augusta National Golf Club - Augusta, Georgia, U.S. - April 11, 2021 Spain's Jon Rahm acknowledges the crowd after holing his birdie putt on the 15th green during the final round REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Jon Rahm had double reason to smile on Sunday carding a final round six-under 66 to claim a top five Masters finish and a picture of his new born son.

It may not have been the Green Jacket waiting for Rahm as he walked off the 18th green but a 66 or 96 it did not matter said the world number three, who was still basking in the glow of his new born son last weekend.

“I finish the round and I get a picture from (his wife) Kelley, and no matter what I do, if I shoot 80 or 65, it’s the same feeling,” said Rahm, the fiery Spaniard exuding a new calm. “You kind of forget, and I’m a parent again.”

Having arrived at Augusta National with little practice and little sleep Rahm could not quite get his game in top gear carding three consecutive rounds of even par 72 that left him a massive 11 shots back of front running Hideki Matsuyama at the start of Sunday play.

Rahm had given himself little chance of getting his hands on a Green Jacket but after a birdie at the 12th glanced up at the scoreboard and his thinking changed.

“It was all fun and games up until I made that birdie on 12 and I looked up and I’m like, I’m not that far away,” recalled Rahm, who now has four consecutive top 10 Masters finishes. “When I made that birdie on 12, Hideki had just started and I believe he was one-over after one, and I’m like, I’m five shots back.

“If I finish — you’re thinking maybe birdie 13 and 15 and you add one more there, eight-under, he’s at 10, he doesn’t have the best front nine, all of a sudden I’m in the mix.

“That’s kind of what I was thinking.”

Rahm, however, was only able to add one more birdie after the 12th and Matsuyama refused to buckle under the mounting pressure claiming a one shot victory over Will Zalatoris.

“It’s golf. What am I going to do?,” said Rahm. “I showed up here Thursday mid-morning, haven’t hit a shot in six days, very little sleep.

“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to play as good as I did early on.”

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