Golf does not stop spinning.
Off the field, in that eternal fight between the American circuit and the Saudi League whose last battle has been the announcement of the PGA Tour to remodel the 2024 calendar with eight
tournaments , which will be played by only between 70 and 78 players, without cuts and with a fattened check to stand up to LIV Golf's petrodollars.
, with three different number ones in the month of February alone: Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm.
The fight is so tight that every week the crown is put into play with the trio of aces sharpening their claws.
This Sunday the duel was lived in Bay Hill, in the Arnold Palmer Invitational held in Orlando.
And Jon Rahm kept one more week (46 in total in his career) first place in the world rankings despite finishing the tournament with +1 in 39th position, his worst result since he was 55th at the Scottish Open last July .
The Basque was allowed to maintain that privileged place by the victory of the American Kurt Kitayama, who at the age of 30 sang his first bingo at the PGA and entered a checkbook of 3.6 million dollars.
With -9, he beat McIlroy and Harris English by one stroke, and Jordan Spieth by two,
Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, and Tyrrell Hatton.
The fight was of many carats in the last day of a championship of many emotions and without deciding until the last hole.
Kurt Kitayama, with the Arnold Palmer Invitational trophy. RICHARD HEATHCOTE (AFP)
For the first time in many weeks, Rahm was not in contention for the win on a Sunday.
The Basque had won five of the last nine tournaments he had played, and finished fourth, eighth, seventh and third in the other four.
In a stretch of 42 days he had celebrated three successes this year on the American circuit, the best historical streak since Johnny Miller in 1975. A cyclone that seemed unstoppable.
Even more so when the tournament started on Thursday with an amazing card of -7 (Kitayama won this Sunday with -9).
Rahm left his letter of introduction with three
in a row on the first three holes of the week and closed that first round with
in the last three.
The world of golf was once again gaping at a golfer who claimed to feel invincible when he was at his best.
Between eyebrows, he will not only add another notch, but join the Arnold Palmer tournament to those that he exhibits in the appointments of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Nobody seemed to be able to stop a thrown Rahm and yet on Friday it sank after a very complicated and windy day.
With +4, three
and a double
in the last five years, Barrika's fell to the realm of mortals for the first time this course.
There were 11 strokes from one day to the next, and his worst round since last May.
Strangely, very strangely, he repeated that +4 result on Saturday, with seven straight
on the par fours, six
on seven holes in the mid-round stretch.
Very rarely do you remember two bad rounds in a row by Jon Rahm, a golfer with a great capacity to react when the results are not good and with mental strength and ambition that are his great assets among the world elite.
What for the rest is normal, a couple of laps over par, a bad week, a ranking far from the head, number one in the world is the exception.
Such is the level of excellence that a player has reached who is the first to demand the maximum one week after another.
Rahm closed the round this Sunday with the par of the course to finish with +1 a tournament passed through water (up to six balls, two on Friday, two on Saturday and two on Sunday, ended up sunk in the lakes of the course).
For him, it's time to reset.
Maintained the world number one, this week arrives The Players, the fifth great.
And it already smells like Augusta Masters.
Not done yet 💪@JonRahmPGA sinks a 40-foot eagle putt @APInv.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 5, 2023
Final classification of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
You can follow EL PAÍS Deportes on
, or sign up here to receive
our weekly newsletter