Jon Rahm’s winning margin at the Masters of four shots suggested he had everything his own way over the weekend.
But the gap between the Spaniard and his closest rivals, LIV Golf Series duo Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson, might have been even larger if it wasn’t for a contribution from a Super Bowl winning tight end.
Despite being the embodiment of consistency in Sunday’s final round to claim his first green jacket and second career major at Augusta National, Rahm’s eventual title charge couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start.
On the first hole of his opening round, Rahm had some uncharacteristic struggles as he four-putted for a double bogey on the first hole’s undulating green.
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Although he was able to recover over the course of the weekend and eventually claim his maiden Masters title, Rahm joked afterward that some text messages from Super Bowl winning tight end Zach Ertz jinxed his abilities on the opening hole.
“For those people who believe in jinxing other players, people or whatever it may be, Thursday morning when I was getting on my golf cart to get to this putting green. Ten minutes before my tee time, I saw a text from a good friend of mine,” Rahm, dressed in his newly acquired green jacket, explained to reporters.
“I’m going to name him because he is a Super Bowl winning champion – Zach Ertz – he sent the text: ‘That first green looking like a walk in the park,’ 10 minutes before I four-putted the start of the tournament.”
With a smile, Rahm continued: “So, thank you Zach, don’t ever do that again please.”
Ertz – who won Super Bowl LII with the Philadelphia Eagles and now plays for the Arizona Cardinals – acknowledged the texts and said he had no regrets.
“I apologize for absolutely nothing!” he tweeted. “You can expect these texts every major going forward my friend! Congratulations!”
Ertz’s former Cardinals teammate JJ Watt, who retired at the end of the 2022 season, tweeted out screenshots of messages sent to a group chat called “Birdies and Babies” which included Rahm, Ertz and Watt which seemed to corroborate Rahm’s story with the caption: “Can confirm. I think this means you deserve a green jacket (Ertz).”
Ertz text the group saying “Let’s have a day Jon!! Start fast!!” to which Watt replied: “Let’s go Jon!!! Pretend you’re playing with Zach and I. You’ll set the course record!”
He followed up with: “First hole green looks like a walk in the park.”
Watt also included a screenshot of a private text message exchange with Ertz. The tight end said: “4 putt to start the round… not ideal.” Watt replied: “Horrendous. I said pretend you’re playing WITH us not like your playing LIKE us,” which Ertz responded with a pair of laughing emojis.
Despite the opening hole double bogey, Rahm wasn’t hampered for long, grabbing birdies on the following two holes as he shot an impressive seven-under opening-round 65.
And he continued his steady rise up the leaderboard over the course of a disrupted four days, showing exemplary consistency to win the 2023 Masters.
CNN’s Jack Bantock contributed reporting.