LA QUINTA, Calif. – When it comes to mathematics, science and minute details, Jon Rahm prefers not to get too advanced on the golf course. Much unlike his mentor Phil Mickelson.
Rahm, 23, has played countless rounds with the 47-year-old Mickelson, whose brother and caddie, Tim, coached Rahm at Arizona State and managed him until this season. He learns a lot, too – but only what he wants to.
“It’s really fun to hear how they (Phil and Tim) talk to each other, because Tim being my coach at ASU, I don’t need much – “Okay, it’s like 120 (yards), this shot, right?’” Rahm said. “And you have Phil, it’s like, ‘Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like 1 mph wind sideways, it’s going to affect it 1 yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They’re thinking (that) and I’m like, ‘I’m lost.’
“I’m like, ‘God, if I do that thought process, I could not hit the golf shot.’”
Rahm continued: “It’s funny, he gets to the green and then it’s the same thing. He’s very detail-oriented. He gets there and I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s a foot right.’ And he goes, okay, he reads the green, like, ‘Oh, it’s 1.8 degrees of slope here and this and that. And I’m there listening and I’m like, ‘Man, I hope we’re never paired together for anything because I can’t think like this.’ I would not be able to play golf like that. For me to listen to all that is really fun. And then you hear me and Adam talk, ‘180, a little breeze into, okay, hard six.’ … And it’s just opposite extremes completely.”
One thing that Rahm is learning from Mickelson is how to pace himself. Like Mickelson, Rahm will be making just his third start of the PGA Tour season this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Rahm, who intends to meet playing requirements on both the PGA and European tours this season as he chases a European Ryder Cup spot, is young. But he wants to make sure he feels like it come September, which is why he took five weeks off between his win in Dubai in November and his runner-up finish to Dustin Johnson at Kapalua earlier this month.
“You need to pace yourself because when things are getting done on the PGA Tour, I’m going over to Europe and you have to deal with jet lag as well, (and) being able to not overwork yourself is important,” Rahm said. “It would be really easy for me to go back out there and start hitting balls and hitting more putts and go home when it’s dark, but I don’t think that’s smart. I would play well maybe the next three or four weeks, but I would then be burned out and I would be really tired toward the Masters and the first WGC.”
Rahm, already a winner on Tour and the current World No. 3, has little to prove – except for in those major championships. His best finish in the majors in 2017 was a T-27 at the Masters. He also missed the cut at the U.S. Open.
“I don’t know why last year things didn’t happen in the major championships,” Rahm said. “Maybe it was the few weeks a year that I played bad? But hopefully I’ll play good on those weeks and maybe see if I can get in contention in one of them.”
He’ll be energized for them, at least. In golf, that could be called potential energy – or for those like Mickelson, PE = mgh.