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Jon Rahm 'really, really, really' enjoyed being Dad while away from golf

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Changing diapers and 3 a.m. feedings are necessary evils for most men not named Jon Rahm

No, Rahm rather enjoyed his parenting duties over the last couple of months. You’ll better understand his enthusiasm when you realize that being a full-time dad was a break from being a full-time golfer.

For 16 months, Rahm was more entrenched in the sport than at anytime in his professional or amateur career. He played in 36 tournaments including seven majors – one of which he won and four others in which he top-10’d – two full playoff runs and three exclusive DP World Tour events.

There was also the Ryder Cup and a change in equipment.

“It all started for me when we restarted after COVID. It was from June of 2020, right, it was a lot of golf to be played, I ended up getting two wins, played really good golf in majors, finished the Masters in November. And then right away, when everybody has time off, I basically flip, change manufacturers and work harder than I've ever worked,” Rahm said Tuesday at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Full-field tee times from the Sentry Tournament of Champions

“I did not want changing clubs to really be an excuse, so I did a lot of work with that, played great during the year and then from Memorial on happens what happens, right? I get my moments with COVID, became a dad, won a U.S. Open, played amazing golf and then played a great Ryder Cup."

That’s a tidy way of summarizing what was an exhaustive, emotional year-plus of golf and life. After the Ryder Cup, Rahm played the season-opener on the PGA Tour, the Fortinet Championship, and missed the cut.  He then played two events in Spain and went T-16, MC. After that, he was done.

“I needed a break. Not only for me but also for my family. We all endured it together and I just wanted the time to be a dad and be a husband and just be there for my wife and my son,” he said.

In all, Rahm won three times during that 16-month stretch, including the 2021 U.S. Open. Last year alone, he had 15 top-10s on Tour.

“I'm going to say 16 with an asterisk,” Rahm noted. “I'm pretty sure I would have finished top 10 that week, you know. So, let's say 16."

No. 16 would have been at the Memorial, where he held a six-shot lead through 54 holes in his title defense but had to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19. Another positive test knocked him out of the Olympics.

And, through it all, Rahm and wife Kelley had their first child, son Kepa, born April 3, 2021. So, when the clubs were finally shelved for a little while, Rahm was excited to turn on Dad Mode.

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“As soon as I got back home, I told [Kelley], you know, I want to be more involved, obviously I want to help out and for those two months I really, really, really enjoyed having to wake up a couple times a night and take care of my son. Be able to be there in the morning, give him a bath in the morning, feed him, give him a bath at night, just enjoy the simple things of parenthood and knowing that basically once he starts going to school, I'm pretty much going to miss 50 percent of his life. I really wanted to cherish those moments,” Rahm said.

“I know I'm not going to regret any time I decide to spend more time with my family and that was what that decision was based on and I couldn't be happier that I made that decision.”

Rahm said, aside from working out, he took off two weeks completely. He then slowly worked his way back into a competitive mindset. Along the way, he watched a little golf as well.

Jon Rahm 'needed a break' after 'stressful' 2021 season

Jon Rahm 'needed a break' after 'stressful' 2021 season

“Of course I watched. I'm a golf nut. Unless it's commercials, I'm watching golf, that's just for sure,” Rahm said.

“It was really, really cool to see Tiger Woods [at the PNC Championship] like we did a couple years ago when they played that event – or last year, sorry. Just how cool it is to have that father-son experience. Not only the fact that Tiger came back from the car crash and is able to hit golf shots again and it looks like he will be playing on Tour again, obviously not full-time but he will be out here, which is wonderful for all of us.

“Just to see that connection between father and son and how they were playing golf, right? Just to see how much of Tiger is in Charlie, it's so cool to see. It's just inspiring for other fathers out there; hopefully I can be there in the future and be playing with Kepa and contending for that event.”

For now, Rahm is focused on gearing his game for the Plantation Course at Kapalua. That means adjusting to the wind and the slower, grainier greens. It might also take him a little while to dial in his swing, but as he notes, that all falls on him.

“There's a checklist on my swing that I can always go back to if I'm not hitting it well. I don't need my instructor there all the time because he's going to tell me one of those three things pretty much in just a different way. So having the checklist I think is really important. Maybe setup, maybe a feel, maybe a look, something on your swing that you like to have. There's got to be something you need to have that, when you're not hitting it well, you can fall back on to have a consistent, at least a ball flight or a shot that you can at least predict the outcome of more or less,” Rahm said.

“Golf is not a hitting contest; it's posting the best score you can post. Doesn't matter how it looks, it's just competing and getting the lowest round out there.”