Sam Torrance: Irish Open officials were right to spare Jon Rahm a penalty

Sam Torrance
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Dubai Duty Free Irish Open - Day Four
Rahm escaped without penalty after incorrectly replacing his ball (Source: Getty)

A year ago a good friend of mine was buying a new driver in America.

The salesman told him how the club had been tested by a promising Spanish player who was bound for the top; that in two years’ time this player would be in the top 10 and within five years he would be No1.

That promising Spanish player was Jon Rahm, whose six-shot victory at the Irish Open on Sunday means he has now won on both the European Tour and PGA Tour in his first full season on the circuit.

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Even sooner than the driver salesman predicted, the 22-year-old is now world No8.

In the intervening months we’ve heard a lot about Rahm from the US, where he went to college and plays most of his golf.

He wasn’t bad last week at the French Open, finishing tied for 10th on his European Tour debut, but at Portstewart he showed exactly what all the fuss is about.

Rahm got a few kind breaks. He hit some poor shots early in his final round, but a magnificent eagle at the fourth hole set him on his way to the title.

Controversially, he also avoided a penalty when he replaced his ball in a slightly incorrect position. It’s a decision that I feel sets a huge precedent, but I think it was the right one.

I felt sorry for Lexi Thompson when she was penalised for this earlier in the year and it’s good to see that, as a result of that incident, the rules have been adapted to allow for common sense to prevail.


Rahm is like a bull. He’s not as chiselled as some of the younger golfers on tour now but you’d certainly never call him fat. He is very powerful and can kill courses.

His swing is not dissimilar to his compatriot Sergio Garcia, who is renowned as one of the best for technique.

He is also a charmer; you can see it in the way he greets people on the course.

He has a few creases to iron out – for instance, he could be better at shouting fore. He has also been criticised for throwing his clubs around in a temper, but I think it’s just impatience because he knows how good he is.

I’m not condoning it, but it’s only natural in someone that good but still young. Once he sees himself behaving like that on TV he’ll probably regret it and sort it out.

Rahm is certainly a contender for the Open next week. He has now won on a links course – one that is very similar to Royal Birkdale – and that is a big plus if you want become Open champion. He is driving so superbly and is a very special player. I give him a big chance.

He’ll be joined there by Scots David Drysdale and Richie Ramsay, who both clinched their places with great performances in Ireland over the last few days, so congratulations to them.

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City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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