“What else, what else … not one in favor,” Jon Rahm said to himself as he walked through hole 6 of the third round of the Acciona Open in Spain, in his first and only double bogey. The world number one did not seem comfortable with too many misses from the tee. If in the first two rounds the 26-year-old had made two bogeys, one per day, on Saturday’s 12th hole he had already had another three plus the double bogey.
Rahm never gives up and despite the fact that things at the Villa de Madrid Country Club were not going as he intended, he continued to fight tirelessly. The “silence please” and the “stop please” that the hard-working ‘marshall’ repeat thousands of times to contain the noise of the hundreds of fans chasing the game of the winner of the US Open 2021 were answered by deafening shouts and thunderous applause as the Barrika Lion made a sensational birdie putt on the 9th hole that was added to another on the 7th, which came very close to being an eagle.
The impressive level of the tournament meant that the second place from which Jon started after the equator, with -12, was adding digits as if it were a Count Draco account in Sesame Street. There were six holes left to play for Rahm and his +3 was the only result with a positive symbol on the day in the top 40 of the standings, Except for the leaders of the opening days, Besseling and McGowan. Nobody gave up and the phenomenal Basque player lost positions … although the distance from the leaders was not yet insurmountable for a talent like him.
The problem is that Rahm’s bad day did not reverse. A sensational putt off the green on 13th … it only served to save par after another outing into the trees. The body language of the Biscayan was not good. Stiff gesture, jaw tension, continuous first-person conversations, disapproving movements, rude looks or slight attempts to bend rods accompanied him during the almost five hours of play.
The birdie in par 5 of the 14 (where the two previous days had signed eagle) relaxed and oxygenated him a bit. there were four key holes ahead to keep options on the final day. Par at 15, par at 16, par at 17 and birdie at 18 to make 72 strokes (+1) when his worst lap in a Spanish Open was -4. He will start the last day with -11, six strokes behind the leader. Mission almost impossible even for the best player in the world.
The most privileged place in the general classification was taken by Rafa Cabrera Bello. The canary embroidered his game, with a prodigious mastery of the putt, to sign 64 strokes (-7) and place himself at the top of the classification with -17. They also stood out and showed credentials for the final victory Adri Arnaus (-15), the French Guerrier (-15) and Levy (-12) or the English Senior (-14) and Bland (-12) who made the opposite count to Rahm and they featured spectacular cards of 67 or less strokes.
The performance was also very remarkable, again from the amateur David Puig (19 years old) who signed a -2 for a total of -9 that places him among the top 25. Other Spaniards who stood out, in addition to those already mentioned, were Adrián Otaegui who thanks to his xx blows placed with -10, the same score with which Santiago Tarrío and Pablo Larrazábal arrive on the last day.