All eyes on Stuttgart as Sharapova poised for return
LONDON Not much fazes Roberta Vinci after 16 years on Tour but the maelstrom swirling around her opening match in Stuttgart against Maria Sharapova will test even the Italian's vast experience.
Jon Rahm blamed a loud noise, reported as a slamming portable toilet door, for a poor chip shot at the final hole that cost him a chance of forcing extra holes in his final against Dustin Johnson at the WGC-Dell Match Play on Sunday.
Rahm was just starting his backswing for the 80-foot shot at Austin Country Club in Texas when a sudden noise reverberated across the green.
The 22-year-old Spaniard continued with his swing but hit the ball fat and he reacted in disgust when it stopped barely halfway to the hole.
“That’s absolutely why I missed it,” Rahm told Golf Channel, referring to the noise, which NBC television said was a portable toilet door banging.
“I lost focus with my head, chunked it and left it short. That’s absolutely what happened.”
Rahm never expected to hit his chip to tap-in distance, because he had to negotiate a ridge and a downhill slope but he expected to get it much closer than 30 feet.
“'Gimme' distance was impossible, but 10, 12, 15 feet for birdie is what I had in mind ... and for that to happen is just unfortunate.”
Rahm missed his long birdie putt, halving the hole with Johnson, who escaped with a 1-up victory in the World Golf Championships event.
Despite the disappointment, another strong week cemented long-hitting Rahm’s reputation as one of the game's rising talents and an intriguing prospect for his Masters debut in two weeks.
Since his maiden PGA Tour victory at Torrey Pines in southern California two months ago, he has finished 16th, fifth, third and second.
He is projected to jump from 26th to 14th when the world rankings are updated on Monday.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Ransom)
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