Steve Palmer's US Open Top European predictions & free golf tips
Jon Rahm can handle the mental examination of wicked Winged Foot
Free golf tips, predictions and top European best bet for the US Open at Winged Foot Golf Club.
Where to watch
Sky Sports Golf, 12.30pm Thursday
Jon Rahm to be top European
2pts each-way 3-1 general
US Open top European
Jon Rahm was a hothead at the start of his career and considered too volatile for Major examinations at difficult venues such as Winged Foot, but there have been signs of maturity from the Spaniard this season which suggest he has become a different player.
Only last year - when he blew a fantastic Sunday winning chance in the Players Championship at Sawgrass with some poor decision-making and angry responses to setbacks - Rahm seemed untrustworthy at the most demanding venues. But this season, there has been a change, and he seems by far the most likely European contender for US Open glory.
The 3-1 about Rahm ending the week as top European is worth considering. This could be an America-dominated Major - the home contingent is extremely strong - but Rahm also seems ready to apply himself properly to the Winged Foot assignment.
Victory in the Memorial at Muirfield Village in July showed that the new Rahm can handle tough tracks - Jack Nicklaus had his course set up as a thorough test but the champion romped to comfortable success - then a BMW Championship triumph followed last month.
Olympia Fields, the BMW venue, was the most difficult course of the season so far, so it is a significant feather in Rahm's cap that he has been the one to handle the most brutal tests the best.
The transformation was further underlined by the one-shot penalty he received in round three of the BMW for picking up his ball without marking it - a brain freeze after which the old Rahm would probably have crumbled. Instead, the 25-year-old gathered himself and went on to beat Dustin Johnson in a playoff in a remarkable display of fortitude.
Perhaps marriage has had a positive effect on Rahm - he tied the knot just before Christmas - but for whatever reason his temperament and attitude is greatly improved. It may be enough for him to win his first Major on Sunday, but punters can be more confident that he will be the leading European.
Rahm has got the magic touch around the greens needed to have hope of successful scrambling around the nasty Winged Foot greens.
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