Jon Rahm wins his second career major championship and first green jacket

Jon Rahm lifts the Masters Tournament Trophy during the Presentation ceremony at the 2023 Masters.| Logan Whitton/Augusta National

Rahm, the 28-year-old Spaniard who won the 2021 U.S. Open, came from two shots back of Brooks Koepka at the start of Sunday’s final round and finished at 12 under par for the tournament to win at Augusta National Golf Club. Rahm has now won four tournaments in 2023. Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson tied for second at 8 under.

Short Holes Play Big Role in Masters Outcome

By Jim McCabe / Sunday, April 09, 2023

On a masterful stage that has witnessed magical performances for nearly 90 years, there are 18 holes of pure brilliance, many of them long and daunting.

But here’s to four of the shorter stops along the way that had a huge impact on the 2023 Masters. From No. 3 Flowering Peach, which Alister MacKenzie considered to be near perfect in its design; to No. 4, a one-shotter where the green is an elusive target; to the par-3 sixth where Masters legend Billy Joe Patton made a hole-in-one in his epic fourth-round performance in 1954; to a piece of golf real estate of which even Jack Nicklaus once said, “Sometimes I get there and my hands just shake,” the iconic par-3 No. 12, Golden Bell.

When details of the 87th Masters are recounted, memories of Nos. 3, 4, 6 and 12 will make Rahm, the champion, smile, while Brooks Koepka, who lost his 54-hole lead, will bemoan miscues made and chances missed.Video Collection2Jon Rahm | 3rd Hole, Round 4, Stroke 2Jon Rahm | 3rd Hole, Round 4, Stroke 3

At the 350-yard third hole, the final-round flagstick was on the front right portion of the green so that tee balls by Rahm and Koepka left short but ticklish wedge shots of 43 and 29 yards, respectively.

Koepka led at 11-under, Rahm was two behind, but quickly that changed. Koepka missed his 14-footer for birdie, Rahm made his from 10 feet and “it was as if that broke the ice,” said Adam Hayes, the longtime caddie for the Spaniard.

They had trailed throughout most of the morning action, 12 holes to finish the third round, “but that was a great birdie at No. 3,” said Hayes, and yes, the momentum carried into the fourth.

There, Rahm found the green safely from 240 yards, but Koepka was bunkered with his tee shot. Deftly two-putting from 24 feet for par, Rahm picked up another stroke when Koepka missed a 9-foot putt for par. They were tied at 10-under and “there’s no doubt, Nos. 3 and 4 were huge,” said Hayes.

Masters Champion Jon Rahm’s Final Round | Every Single Shot | The Masters

Since early in Friday’s second round when he went out in 3-under 33 to seize control, Koepka had been setting the pace. Only now, he was tied, and it wasn’t the time to catch what he called “bad breaks.”

The tee shot on No. 4 appeared headed for the green but got knocked down in the wind and was left in a “bad spot” in the bunker. Even worse was the tee shot at the 180-yard, downhill par-3 sixth. Koepka watched Rahm hit a shot that came up short and figured since “I’m about a half-club longer with the irons,” he’d carry that same club, a 7-iron, the perfect distance.

His tee shot went long and where he would have loved an upslope, Koepka had a downslope. “The ball skidded,” he said of his pitch and led to a two-putt from 30 feet that led to a bogey and a third lost stroke in four holes.

“Kind of frustrating,” said Koepka, who watched as Rahm, whose tee shot had rolled back down the slope, pitched to 6 feet and saved par.

Now at 10-under and leading by one, Rahm was feeling the momentum. Koepka concedes he was feeling the heat and had trouble shaking the disappointment of losing strokes at Nos. 3, 4, and 6.

“I didn’t play good enough to win,” said Koepka, though it wasn’t until the events of No. 12 that he really suspected it wasn’t going to be his day. There, he watched Rahm “hit a 9-iron (onto the green) and I hit a wedge over the green.”

Again, it was a tricky lie and Koepka couldn’t pull it off. His chip landed short and stayed in the second cut, from where he rolled his putt 5 feet by and made what was his fourth bogey.

The 2023 Masters Final Round

Koepka, who had started the fourth round 11-under and leading by two, was now 7-under and trailing by three. Against a force as powerful as Rahm “who was playing great,” said Koepka, it pretty much was an insurmountable task.

He had overpowered a long and wet and demanding golf course for the better part of 54 holes. But the short stuff – Nos. 3, 4, 6 and 12, had been his undoing.

Likely, it wouldn’t make Koepka feel any better to know that he’s not the first competitor to be beaten at Augusta National’s short stops.

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