Friday, August 5, 2016

Jon Rahm turning into more than prospect, but consistent threat to win

CROMWELL, CONN. — When Bryson DeChambeau turned pro after the Masters and finished tied for fourth place at Harbour Town in his first start, so many people figured the eccentric former U.S. Amateur champion would be the can’t-miss collegiate-turned-pro of the year.

That wasn’t the case.

While DeChambeau has enjoyed some decent follow-on results from that first week at the RBC Heritage, he is severe danger of not earning his PGA Tour win fresh out of school. He’ll need a T-3 this week at the Travelers Championship to avoid a certain trip to the Tour Finals. From there, he’ll need to play four events and try to earn enough money that could land him on the PGA Tour next season.

Jon Rahm doesn’t have such a problem.

In just four starts as a professional, Rahm has made all four cuts, finishing T-3 in his first start the Quicken Loans National and ending up tied for second at the RBC Canadian Open. He’s earned not only enough money to earn PGA Tour Special Temporary Membership, affording him unlimited sponsor exemptions to the end of the season, but he’s a lock to earn enough money to gain full PGA Tour membership for the 2016-17 season off the non-member money list.

However, Rahm, the 21-year-old Spaniard, is in early position at this week’s Travelers Championship to remove any doubt about his membership status. He shot an opening 5-under 65 to sit a shot off the Day 1 lead of Jerry Kelly and Andrew Loupe. A win here would give him a two-year PGA Tour exemption, and it would also land him in the FedEx Cup playoffs as a winner with a healthy chance to make it deep in the four-event series.

That makes Rahm, a product of Arizona State, particularly dangerous this week. He’s powerful on a golf course that’s short by PGA Tour standards, and one that’s susceptible to low rounds. A long player in Bubba Watson is a two-time winner and defending champion. The event has a history of identifying young players and transforming them into up-and-coming winners. Rahm fits the profile of a winner here.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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