Spanish sensation Jon Rahm has been awarded the European Tour’s Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award after a remarkable breakthrough season that included a record-breaking victory at the Irish Open in July.
The current world No.5 – who lies fourth in the Race to Dubai – received the award from European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley ahead of this week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, where the Spaniard will be looking for a strong finish to an already impressive campaign.
Rahm sealed the accolade in South Africa after none of his closest competitors – South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli, Englishman Jordan Smith, Hideto Tanihara of Japan and New Zealand’s Ryan Fox – could finish strongly enough in the Nedbank Golf Challenge to give themselves a chance of overhauling Rahm in the Race to Dubai standings in the final week of the season.
It has been a meteoric rise to the top of the world game for the 23 year old, who turned professional in June last year after a glittering amateur career where he represented Arizona State University, winning 11 titles and reaching world amateur No.1 along the way.
His transition to the paid ranks was a seamless one and he earned his maiden professional title at the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open in January, holing a 60-foot eagle putt on the final hole to clinch the title.
Rahm then joined the European Tour and almost immediately emulated three of his Spanish golfing heroes – Seve Ballesteros, José María Olazábal and Sergio Garcia – with a stunning win in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, storming to a breathtaking six-stroke victory at Portstewart Golf Club with his 24-under-par total being the lowest in the tournament’s history.
Rahm becomes the first Spaniard to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award since Pablo Larrazábal in 2008, and the fifth in total, with Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño (2005), Garcia (1999) and Olazábal (1986) also having claimed the honour.
Rahm said: “It’s a very satisfying feeling to win this award. If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that I would be sitting here – fourth in the Race to Dubai, playing the way I’ve done in the Rolex Series, becoming Rookie of the Year – when I wasn’t even a member at the beginning of the year – it’s a really special feeling. It’s just a huge honour to be in this position at this time of the year. It’s something I’m really proud of.”