‘For Jorge, where it all began’. That is the dedication that Jon Rahm stamped in 2021, shortly after winning the USOpen –his first ‘Major’–, in a photograph in which the world number one appears embracing what was his first teacher at the golf school from Martiartu, Jorge Losada. Barrika’s genius has always been grateful to those who guided his first steps in a sport that has exalted him. “Without them I would not be where I am” he has assured him on more than one occasion.
Now that he has achieved the green jacket of Augusta, his second ‘Grande’, and that he has returned to the world top with a card of minus 12, leading the second classified by four shots, ELCORREO has had access to the first card that Rahm completed as a To a child. He went to the Martiartu Golf School trophy, where he received classes. He was 8 years old and the test was played in the stableford modality – the players fight for points on each hole.
Under normal conditions, once the files were computerized, the logical thing would have been for that card to end up in the trash, but Losada decided to keep all the papers and a couple of years ago, while cleaning, he came across “this gem.” Rahm, as you can see in the photo above, signs the card just plain Jon. “He was very excited when I sent it to him through his brother,” says the former teacher of the Biscayan champion. The match in question took place on October 19, 2002, about a month before his ninth birthday, and Rahm was already looking like a champion.
In fact, it won the category of less than ten years “clearly.” The setting was the pitch and putt –short holes– of Martiartu –three par threes– and Barrika’s had a 24 handicap –advantage in shots that a player receives, compared to par on the course, based on their level–. The little golfers, as can be seen on the card, had to complete three rounds of the mini-course –nine holes in total– and the current world number one reaped a final score of 33, which “is brutal”.
On hole one, the longest –108 meters– and complicated, he obtained the highest marks. The first time he did it in five shots and subtracting the three that corresponded to him from the handicap he got a birdie. He added, therefore, three points to his box. The maverick character of him became clear in the two subsequent rounds. In the second pass, Rahm completed the hole in three strokes, thus achieving, after applying the handicap, an albatross – three strokes less than par. That gave him the maximum score, five. The third time he bogeyed and collected four points.
On the second hole, 62 meters long, he also had two fours and a two, which was his lowest record that day. “Jon was a boy who, at eight years old, was already the size of one of ten, to which was added his outstanding technical quality,” recalls Losada. So much so that when he left the Martiartu Golf School to head to Larrabea (Álava) at the age of ten –he stayed there until he was 14– he already had a thirteen handicap. “The normal thing for children is to start at 54,” explains his teacher at the time about Rahm’s evolution from an early age.
And that was not an easy little one. «Every two by three I would come out crying. He had abilities that the rest did not have, but he forced him to do the ordered things to improve defects such as the way he held the stick, and he did not take it well. When he had tantrums, his mother would take him out on the slope next to the training ground and make him go up and down until she relaxed, “recalls Losada. Genius and figure of a number one.