Ten inches — it was a putt that should have been nothing for the world’s current top golfer, Jon Rahm. But something just went wrong. He didn’t take a full stance, strolling up to the ball on the green to tap it in. The ball traveled about three inches before coming to a stop, turning what would have been a par-3 into a bogey for the hole as Rahm had to take a second crack at it.
The misstep occurred on the seventh hole in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Rory McIlroy has a solid lead at the moment, though Rahm and several other golfers are still in contention as the tournament continues over the next two days.
Rahm has been sitting atop the world golf rankings for 40 weeks after finishing first at the 2021 U.S. Open and in the top eight of the other three 2021 majors. The shot he was taking has a make-percentage of over 99.9 percent, according to the PGA. It’s the shortest miss on tour this season. But hey, it happens sometimes — mostly to the rest of us, but sometimes to the best of us.
And he’s not the first poor soul this kind of thing has ever happened to as at the 1985 Ryder Cup, Craig Stadler missed a 14-inch putt that would have won the match, and Europe went on to take the trophy. Stewart Cink missed a tap-in at the 2001 U.S. Open (much higher stakes than the Arnold Palmer Invitational), and Hale Irwin actually completely whiffed the ball on a tap-in putt during the 1983 Open Championship.
In 2021, golfer Justin Warren missed a one-footer in a qualifier that, had he made the putt, would have given him his first ever PGA Tour start. McIlroy had a really helpful piece of advice afterwards — “Don’t miss one-footers, I guess.” Maybe he’ll pass that nugget of wisdom onto Rahm this week, as well.
Rahm has only one major win under his belt at 27 years old, but fellow pro Pat Perez told Golf Digest that Rahm doesn’t plan on retiring until he’s beaten Jack Niklaus’ 18 major wins, which even Tiger Woods has found himself unable to do as he approaches 50. Perez also believes that Rahm will not face the injuries that Tiger has suffered because of his golf swing.
He’ll have his next shot in a month when the 2022 Masters kicks off at Augusta.