The Spaniard held his nerve when others crumbled during a thrilling back nine at the DP World Tour Championship, clinching his third win of a superb rookie season just one week removed from his 23rd birthday.
Tommy Fleetwood, 26, finished eight shots behind Rahm’s 19-under par but profited from overnight leader Justin Rose’s meltdown to be anointed Race to Dubai winner as the European Tour’s best performer this year.
Though the signs are positive for Europe ahead of next September’s Ryder Cup there is no shortage of young talent across the pond either, as Brooks Koepka (25), Jordan Spieth (24) and Justin Thomas (24) won three of the four majors this season.
There is little threat of a confident Rahm being overwhelmed as a member of the youth movement.
“I think it’s happening more and more, you see what happened last year on the PGA Tour with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas who are 24 and between both of them they won 11 times which is something amazing,” said Rahm.
“I think it’s like the rise of the youngsters, it’s been a really fun year. We feed each other, seeing other people win we think ‘why can’t we?’
“In my case, I got it done in a year and I’m a really confident person so when I’m in this position I believe I can win.”
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 19, 2017
Of the frontrunners only Rahm posted a bogey-free round of five-under par at Earth course on Sunday. A birdie on the 16th separated him from a chasing pack including South Africans Dylan Frittelli and Dean Burmester, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and early finisher Shane Lowry.
The round spoke of the steely resolve that has helped him come so far since turning professional 18 months ago – and keep his bank manager happy with a further 1.2m euros.
But with Rahm set up life, he measures his currency in victories and is eager to be first past the finish post in next year’s Race to Dubai.
“I’m a really ambitious person, this is my first year though I know it’s going to be hard to top,” added the world No4, who already divides his time between the PGA and European tours.
“Hopefully I can keep playing like this and kick on again this year, maybe I can come out again and have a chance of winning the Race to Dubai.
“It’s tough to have played good all year and actually have no mathematical chance to win, so hopefully I can play better tournaments during the year and have a chance.
“To get it done the last week – I don’t know if it shows anybody else or not, but it does prove to myself that I belong to be here on the European Tour and on the PGA Tour.
“Hopefully it reinforces my position to be considered for the Ryder Cup next year.”
His compatriot Sergio Garcia made a stunning charge of his own on day four – stringing together four birdies in a row to start the round – but a bogey on the 18th snuffed out his chances.
The Masters champion, who alongside Fleetwood and Rose was the only other contender still in the Race to Dubai hunt at Jumeirah Golf Estates last week, insists he does not regret skipping the previous three tournaments.
“(My wife) Angela and I, we needed to do some things related to the baby, some check-ups and stuff that I wanted to be a part of,” said Garcia, whose round of 63 earned him a tie for fourth.
“I don’t regret it at all. “I don’t like to play too many tournaments in a row – we did what we thought was best.”
What an Amazing ending to Awesome year! Thank you to everyone who has been a part of it. Family, Friends, Fans, team, Sponsors, etc. Vamos! @adidasGolf @TaylorMadeGolf @isagenix @BighornGolfClub and ROLEX. pic.twitter.com/G41KxuDKgn
— Jon Rahm Rodriguez (@JonRahmpga) November 19, 2017
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