Unexpected Obstacles

U.S. Open 2022: Jon Rahm has golf ball stolen on 18th hole, still manages to make birdie

June 16, 2022

Patrick Smith

BROOKLINE, Mass. — A year after holing a long birdie putt to wrap up his first major title, Jon Rahm provided more dramatics on his closing hole during the first round of the 2022 U.S. Open. But the circumstances couldn't have been more different—especially considering Rahm needed a different golf ball just to finish the hole.

Moments earlier, Rahm arrived at where his tee shot on the par-4 18th had settled in the left rough. There was just one problem: it wasn't there anymore. As if the USGA's setup of The Country Club isn't hard enough, apparently, players this week need to be on the lookout for a couple of golf ball bandits.

A marshal had placed a flag in the ground marking the Spaniard's ball, but a pair of kids decided it would make for a nice souvenir and took off with it. These rascals better watch out, though, because Rahm can ID them.

"Somebody—I'm pretty sure I know who it was. I recognized the two kids that were running the opposite way with a smile on their face," Rahm said laughing. "I am 100 percent sure I saw the two kids that stole it."

Rahm was in good spirits about it after, because the unusual occur didn't keep him from making a closing birdie. After a brief delay to drop a new ball and to take another drop because a grandstand was in his way, Rahm found the 18th green with his approach. Then he buried a 21-footer for birdie to finish the day in red numbers with an opening 69.

"I'm just really happy somebody spotted the ball first," Rahm said. "We knew exactly where it was. Off the tee I was comfortable. I was past all the trees. . . . After the free relief, I had 135 yards to the pin, in an area where the rough wasn't that thick. I don't think they expected anybody to hit it there or be around there, so I was able to drop it in an area that was a little downgrain, and I wasn't in jeopardy of carrying the bunker. That wasn't really a concern."

The defending U.S. Open champ had concerns on the hole before when he wasn't sure if his tee shot or provisional was in bounds, but he wound up being OK and making par. And he flashed a big fist pump after making the unusual birdie, however, for obvious reasons he said the situation wasn't comparable to his winning putt at Torrey Pines last year.

"It's just more of a thank-God-I-made-a-putt-type deal," Rahm said. "I feel like I played pretty good golf all day. I just saw a lot of them get close and not go in, and to hit two wayward drives in the last two holes and somehow end up with two birdie putts and making the last one -- it's more the fact of making putt to break par on the first round of the U.S. Open. It's quite a big deal."

Way to battle out there, Jon, but maybe bring an extra ball or two. You know, just in case those kids come back.