As this week’s Farmers Open golf tournament gets under way Wednesday, everybody’s talking about the Spanish great Jon Rahm, who is on a roll with wins the past two weeks in the year’s first two PGA tournaments.
He triumphed first in Hawaii and then last week at La Quinta in the desert, two hours east of Los Angeles. But Rahm is confident, saying Tuesday, “I’ve always had a lot of success here and I love coming to Torrey Pines.”
Rahm did win the Farmers here in 2017, though his greatest victory was at the last U.S. Open played here in 2021. Back then Rahm celebrated with his wife, Kelley, and baby son, Kepa, then 10 weeks old.
Rahm was known for a bad habit of losing his temper on the course. He did it so much that he said he was sick of answering the question.
But he also said that, for a long time, he told himself it helped him play better. Then when the baby came along, Rahm told himself he needed to behave better so he could be a “role model” for his son.
Aside from Rahm, there is definitely a hometown favorite, 29-year-old Xander Schauffele now ranked 6th worldwide. He’s a Scripps Ranch High School graduate with a social sciences degree from San Diego State University.
Schauffele has a naturally complicated San Diego family background, as his father is a French/German naturalized immigrant and his Mom is a Taiwanese naturalized immigrant who grew up in Japan.
When Schauffele first went to meet his then serious girlfriend’s father, he was asked what he was planning for a career? Golf, was the answer. But what’s the back-up? “No, I’m going to win on the professional golf circuit,” he said. And, indeed, he has lived up to the pln.
The defending champion, Luke List, says he first learned to play golf from his grandfather, who was obviously proud of Luke’s win last year. Asked if he was subsequently also getting deference from his friends and fellow golfers, List said yes, but “that only goes so far!”
He explained that after last year’s win, the List family flew home to Georgia but were assigned seats in coach-class, row 28, near the back of the plane from San Diego to Atlanta.
There is no shortage of top golfers in the field this week, including Justin Thomas, ranked number 9 worldwide. But at a news briefing on Tuesday Thomas told interviewers he was “really impressed by what it takes to achieve Jon Rahm’s incredible winning stretch” that has seen him win four of his last starts worldwide.
One take-away for local “serious amateur golfers” is that at Torrey Pines both the North and South courses tend to play toward the ocean, so knowledgeable players will aim away on each shot.
But all the golfers agree that the big challenge is the “rough” which officials have allowed to grow impossibly deep. This is noted by all the players, including Rahm who said he was nervous on every tee shot, afraid of the consequences if he missed the fairway.
The Farmers Open runs through Saturday, with the fourth and final round to be played then, to avoid televised conflicts with Sunday football. Weather is expected to produce “newly typical” good San Diego sunshine with plenty of tickets on sale.
Barry Jagoda, a La Jolla resident, was an award-winning journalist at NBC News and CBS News who later served in the White House as a media assistant for President Jimmy Carter. His new book about the Carter years is Journeys With Jimmy Carter and Other Adventures in Media.