Cronkite Header

Cronkite News has moved to a new home at Use this site to search archives from 2011 to May 2015. You can search the new site for current stories.

ASU star Jon Rahm follows in Phil Mickelson’s footsteps at Phoenix Open

Email this story
Print this story

SCOTTSDALE – The Waste Management Phoenix Open is practically down the street from Arizona State University. For Sun Devil standout Jon Rahm, it’s the biggest stop yet on his ascent to the pros.

Rahm, a junior at ASU, was selected as one of five sponsor-exempt golfers invited to play in the tournament. The honor comes after a stellar year for Rahm, who broke Jack Nicklaus’ 72-hole individual record at the World Amateur Team Championship.

“In golf, experience is huge,” ASU golf coach Tim Mickelson said. “For him to be able to get the experience of playing against the best in the world while he’s still in college, (it) better prepares him for when he becomes a professional.”

It’s the amateur’s second time competing in a pro event; he played in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico during the 2014 PGA season. In that event, the Spanish native failed to make the cut. This time around, Rahm is setting the bar high.

“I compete to win,” Rahm said. “I won’t lower my standards just because it’s a PGA Tour event. I know I can do it. I’m playing really, really well.”

If the 20-year-old hits his goal and wins the Waste Management Phoenix Open, he would become the youngest champion since 1932.

Rahm, the No. 3 ranked amateur golfer in the world, continues a legacy of Sun Devils who have launched successful PGA Tour careers. Several are playing this weekend. Phil Mickelson is the most notable name of the group, with five majors under his belt and a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Mickelson had nothing but praise for the rising star.

“He’s a phenomenal player,” Mickelson said. “The guy is a tremendous talent. Hits the ball a long ways, great feel with the putter and he’s the guy that’s always wanting to know what he has to do down the stretch to win and he finds a way to do it so often.”

Rahm will also be bringing along friend and teammate Ben Shur. The fifth year senior serves as his caddie. Shur recently caddied for Rahm at the Spanish Amateur Championship last year.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to help him succeed in this tournament,” Shur said.

With record crowds expected and a rowdy atmosphere guaranteed, Rahm and his coach feel the environment will only enhance the Spaniard’s pro tournament experience.

“The crowd will be different,“ Tim Mickelson said. “It will certainly play a factor but I think it will be a positive thing. Jon loves the limelight. He loves the atmosphere.”

“I really hope I get a lot of supporters here,” Rahm said. “I cannot wait to tee off of 16 to see what the reaction is.”