Jon Rahm pulls away to claim first Masters title

Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Network

Spain’s Jon Rahm offered a sense of history — and then he went out and became part of it.

Rahm shot a 3-under-par 69 in the final round to earn his first Masters championship on a long Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.

Rahm’s victory came on the 40-year anniversary of Spanish great Seve Ballesteros’ second Masters championship. April 9 also was Ballesteros’ birthday.

Ballesteros captained the 1997 European team to a Ryder Cup victory in Sotogrande, Spain, something that had a huge influence on Rahm, his family and their interest in golf.

“History of the game is a big part of why I play and one of the reasons why I play, and Seve being one of them,” Rahm said of Ballesteros, who died in 2011 at age 54. “If it wasn’t for that Ryder Cup in ’97, we don’t know where I would be.”

Rahm, the 2021 U.S. Open winner, collected his second major championship by finishing at 12-under 276 for a four-stroke victory.

Brooks Koepka, who had been in the lead in some fashion since Thursday, tumbled in the final round with a 75 and ended up sharing the runner-up spot with Phil Mickelson (fourth-round 65).

In what must have felt like a pack of previous Masters winners chasing him, Rahm remained steady. He was the only golfer to register three rounds in the 60s during the tournament.

Rahm, who returned to No. 1 in the world rankings, moved to the front of the tournament for the first time when Koepka bogeyed No. 6, his second bogey in a three-hole stretch. Rahm’s birdie on No. 8 made it a two-shot edge.

Mickelson had the best score of the final round — 10 strokes better than his third-round score.

Mickelson, who had the lowest single-round score in Masters history by a golfer age 50 or older, was finished when Rahm still had to navigate the backside.

“To come out today and play the way I did and hit the shots when I needed, it’s so much fun,” Mickelson said. “I’m grateful to be a part of this tournament and to be here competing and then to play well, it means a lot.”

Rahm’s birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 put him in ideal position. His approach from the light rough on the 14th set up what became his final birdie. A defining sequence also came on the previous hole after he had a bogey on the hole earlier in the day.

“It’s not really one moment,” Rahm said. “If I had to say one, I’d say hitting that draw perfectly on 13 was the start of it.”

Former Masters champions Scottie Scheffler (2022), Jordan Spieth (2015), Patrick Reed (2018) and Mickelson (2004, 2006, 2010) all moved within four shots of the lead Sunday afternoon.

Spieth (66), Reed (68) and Russell Henley (70) wound up sharing fourth place at 7 under.

Spieth shook off a third-round 76 and two bogeys on the front side of the final round to reach 6 under for the tournament with three holes left. A birdie on No. 17 was negated by a bogey on the last hole.

Cameron Young (68) and Norway’s Viktor Hovland (74), a tri-leader after Thursday’s first round, tied for seventh at 6 under.

Koepka fell four shots behind Rahm before a birdie on No. 13. That stopped Koepka’s streak of 22 straight holes without a birdie. He gave it right back with a bogey on the next hole.

“I just kind of played average and I didn’t get any good breaks,” Koepka said. “I didn’t feel like I played too bad. Tried to give it a run there at the end, but it just wasn’t good enough.”

Koepka completed the weather-delayed third round with a 73 on Sunday morning to move to 11 under. That was two shots ahead of Rahm, who also had 73 in the third round.

Koepka, aiming for his first Masters title and fifth major championship, had 12 holes to finish in the third round before embarking on the final round. Despite the outcome, it was a good position to be in.

“I love it,” he said. “Just some days you have it, some days you don’t, and today wasn’t one of those.”

Rahm’s 73 in the third round left him 9 under in second place going to the afternoon. Playing 30 holes during the day didn’t bother him.

“When you’re in the position we’re in, adrenaline kicks in and it doesn’t really matter,” Rahm said.

Sahith Theegala (67) had his only sub-70 score in the last round and took ninth at 5 under, a spot ahead of Scheffler (70) and three others.

Patrick Cantlay had 68 for the best third-round score. His 75 in the final round caused him to fall from fourth place to a tie for 14th at 3 under.

Reigning U.S. Amateur champion Sam Bennett, a college golfer for Texas A&M, had 74 in the last round to share 16th place at 2 under.

“It was incredible,” Bennett said of his first Masters. “Getting to see it on Sunday coming down the back nine … was by far the coolest experience of my life.”

Golfers began from the first and 10th tees for the fourth round.

Earlier Sunday, Tiger Woods withdrew from competition. He cited an ailing right foot in a Twitter post announcing the decision. Woods had 10 holes to complete in the third round and then would have had 18 more in the fourth round. He was at 9 over for the tournament.

–Field Level Media

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