Comfortable pairing for Rahm as he eyes first PGA Championship win
Jon Rahm won’t have to look far if he needs a boost of inspiration in the first two rounds of the PGA Championship.
Rahm, 25, is grouped with a couple special mentors.
He learned Tuesday morning that he will be playing with fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia, 40, and fellow Arizona State alum Phil Mickelson, 50, with the trio going off TPC Harding Park’s first tee on Thursday at 1:58 p.m. PT and off the 10th tee on Friday at 8:33 a.m. PT.
“It's an honor to play with one of the greatest Spanish players to ever play,” Rahm said. “Grew up watching him. He’s been there for me when I've needed it, and as well as Phil, right.”
Rahm got close to Mickelson through Phil’s brother, Tim, who is now Phil’s caddie. Tim coached Rahm at Arizona State and then managed Rahm when he turned professional.
“Even though me and Sergio are both Spanish countrymen, I spend a lot more time with Phil, with the relationship with him, his brother,” Rahm said.
Rahm ascended to No. 1 three weeks ago, after winning the Memorial, for his fourth PGA Tour title. He saw his brief reign atop the rankings end with Justin Thomas taking the No. 1 spot with a victory last weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
Rahm’s sights are set this week on winning his first major championship. Mickelson and Garcia both persevered into their 30s before winning their first major.
“I've spent a lot of time with both,” Rahm said. “They have both helped me out a lot, and it should be a really fun pairing. I'm excited. It's rare that you get a good one like this one, and they both mean a lot to me, so I'm happy to share the stage with them.”
Phil boasted about Rahm’s potential before Rahm hit his first tee shot as a pro. In fact, last month, with Rahm’s rise to No. 1, a story emerged about how Mickelson made a large wager with fellow pro Colt Knost, betting that Rahm would crack the top 10 in the world rankings in his first year as a pro. Knost gave Mickelson 2-to-1 odds.
Knost wouldn’t reveal the amount of the bet, but he acknowledged it was large.
“It hurt me more than it helped Phil,” Knost said. “I’m a huge Jon Rahm fan. It’s great. It just shows Phil is smarter than people give him credit for.”