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Jon Rahm became the first number 1 in Spain in 30 years after being clear during Memorial Tournament

Jon Rahm started following Seve Ballesteros’ path to the top and became Spain’s first No. 1 in over 30 years after becoming clear at Memorial Tournament

  • Jon Rahm is about to replace Rory McIlroy as the New World No. 1
  • The Spaniard established an impressive lead over the Memorial Tournament
  • Golf legend Jack Niklaus said Rahm reminded him of how he used to play

If you could think of a scenario to become world number 1 champion for the first time, it’s hard to imagine how you could do better than the screenplay that Jon Rahm has at your fingertips at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio.

On the track where the Ryder Cup partnership of Seve Ballesteros and Jose-Maria Olazabal blew the Americans away for the first time in the 1987 Ryder Cup, he was poised to become the first Spaniard to summit since Seve over 30 years ago reached.

Against the strongest field he saw in a regular PGA Tour event, he established an impressive lead.

Jon Rahm becomes the new number 1 after another great show at Memorial Tournament

Jon Rahm becomes the new number 1 after another great show at Memorial Tournament

In a tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus, Rahm’s performance spun the Golden Bear and gave the most beautiful compliment you can imagine.

“This course is so heavy right now, and I just love the way Jon plays,” said Nicklaus, who revealed that he and wife Barbara had fully recovered after contracting Covid-19 in March. “He reminds me how I used to play.”

Seriously, does it get any better than that? Perhaps Rahm could have asked for better weather, as gusts and passing storms disrupted the procedure.

Starting the back nine bogey, double bogey would certainly not be in the script either.

When his closest competitor, American Ryan Palmer, pelted the 12th, a seemingly invincible eight-shot advantage had suddenly turned into four shots.

“Game on,” Palmer said, heading for the 13th. It is never easy to complete the last climb, but Rahm was still three ahead with four holes to play.

Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick shot a stunning 68 to get into the top three and complete a remarkable first round 75 recovery.

The Spaniard received high praise from golf legend Jack Niklaus for his performance

The Spaniard received high praise from golf legend Jack Niklaus for his performance

The Spaniard received high praise from golf legend Jack Niklaus for his performance

As for Rory McIlroy, his world No. 1 reign ended with a wail and a 77 with a triple bogey eight in fifth.

Like so many of the other big names, talk about a bonfire of the vanities. All those weeks since the reboot, when egos were massaged with easy layouts, there has been a spectacular ending.

Nicklaus adapted his masterpiece and asked questions that some of the biggest names couldn’t answer. Brooks Koepka shot 80 and left his game and mind confused with the defense of his USPGA championship just over two weeks away.

Funnily enough, there were no quotes from Koepka after his round. You can always trust Phil Mickelson to come up with something stupid on those days, and when the guy with the best short game of all time starts hitting putts from 78 yards short of the green, that certainly comes into play.

Rory McIlroy's reign as number 1 ended with a whimper when he hit a round of 77 on Sunday

Rory McIlroy's reign as number 1 ended with a whimper when he hit a round of 77 on Sunday

Rory McIlroy’s reign as number 1 ended with a whimper when he hit a round of 77 on Sunday

Phil came up with a statement that was typically too smart for his own good. It has always been his weakness, summed up wonderfully by Eddie Pepperell on Twitter. “Collin Morikawa (playing with Phil) is just getting a glimpse into his future after 30 years on tour, with millions on the couch and a complete fruitcake,” he wrote.

What a week to make your comeback after five months out. Tiger Woods showed a little bit of everything, with two good rounds of 71 on Thursday and Saturday, as well as a few 76s.

“There were many positives because I felt my swing was good, but I struggled with the greens,” said Woods, who had no complaints about set-up.

“It is not an exaggeration. Good shots are rewarded and bad shots are severely punished. ‘

That’s exactly how it turned out – and why Rahm was on the verge of history.

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