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Jon Rahm, ASU men's golf repeat in Thunderbird Invitational

Rahm (-15) defeats teammate Max Rottluff by one stroke

Men's golf Jon Rahm interview
Junior Jon Rahm takes questions after winning the Thunderbird Invitational tournament on Saturday, April 4, 2015 at Karsten Golf Course in Tempe. (Ben Moffat/The State Press)

Juniors Jon Rahm and Max Rottluff have battled all season to be the top ASU men's golfer, and at the Thunderbird Invitational the teammates fought until the final hole for the tournament crown. 

Rahm two-putted on the 18th hole after just missing a birdie putt on 17 to win at 15-under-par overall, while Rottluff finished one stroke back and narrowly missed birdie putts on the last two holes.

"I couldn't keep my eyes off Max," Rahm said. "I was looking in front of me to see what he was doing. There was a couple moments where it was a hard time. After I made my birdie on 15, because I knew it was going to be important, he made a really good putt for par on 16 and that tee shot on 16 with the water and 5-iron is not easy." 

"It's the best 1-2 punch in the country and it's obviously great to have that in our back pocket," ASU coach Tim Mickelson said.

On the back nine holes on Saturday, Rahm bogeyed two of the first three holes and also couldn't convert a roughly 6-foot birdie putt. At that point Rahm trailed his teammate by one stroke, but then Rahm birdied back-to-back holes on Nos. 14-15 to lead by one. 

"After I missed the putt on 13, I started getting great shots again," Rahm said. "I got a little frustrated but it didn’t influence my game in the wrong way."

The par-5 14th hole was by far the easiest on the course, with golfers getting more birdies (136) than pars (78) on it. Rahm said his second shot on to the green was the clutch one, which allowed him to two-putt for birdie.

For Rahm, it's his sixth tournament title (tied for third in program history) and his second consecutive Thunderbird Invitational championship. He is only the second Sun Devil to win it multiple times (Phil Mickelson is the other).

"It feels great" Rahm said. "I've been playing good for a while and after I won in Oregon, I thought it was going to be really close...It's just an unbelievable feeling right now."

ASU (-25) also repeated in the invitational and finished 25 strokes ahead of second-place Iowa State. The Sun Devils have now won five of six invitationals in the spring semester. 

Final ASU scores:

1. Rahm -15 
2. Rottluff -14
T-6. Nicolo Galletti -1
T-8. Ki Taek Lee E (individual)
T-24. Ben Shur +4 (individual)
T-39. Mathias Schjoelberg +7 (individual)
T-43. Alberto Sanchez +8
T-47. Broc Johnson +9

Final team leaderboard:

1. ASU -25
2. Iowa State E
3. San Diego +5
4. Baylor +6
T-5. San Diego State +15
T-5. Iowa +15
7. UC Davis +17
8. Pepperdine +23
9. Arizona +26
10. Minnesota +28
11. Oregon State +29
12. Nevada +30
13. Washington State +33
14. Wyoming +46

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