Jon Rahm or Jordan Smith: Did the European Tour make the right call?

In this article Neil Tappin looks at the coronation of Rookie Of The Year. Jon Rahm or Jordan Smith: Did the European Tour make the right call?

Jon Rahm or Jordan Smith: Did the European Tour make the right call?

When the European Tour announced their Rookie Of The Year award prior to the season-ending Dubai World Championship, it sparked some heated debated. Jon Rahm took the accolade and his 2017 achievements speak for themselves. His four top 10 finishes included a second in the WGC Dell Matchplay and victory at the Irish open – one of the European Tour’s new flagship events. His success on the course this season has earned him an impressive 2.8 million euros.

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Given this list of achievements, what’s the problem? Jon Rahm only played in 12 official European Tour events. Once the majors and WGC events are removed, the number of regular event starts he made in 2017 goes down to five. Rahm’s minimal commitment to the Tour in 2017, has raised a few eyebrows since his coronation as Rookie Of The Year.

The other main contender is Jordan Smith. By contrast to Rahm, Smith has played a whopping 29 regular European Tour events. He also broke through to win his maiden title, the European Open and finished inside the top ten a further four times. Perhaps, even more impressively, he made 23 cuts. Despite this list of achievements, Smith has won less money – a disappointing 1.2 million euros. It’s all relative!

Jordan Smith: What's In The Bag?

So should Jordan Smith have been Rookie of the Year? Well, some of his counterparts on the European Tour certainly think so. Here's what Richard Bland and Eddie Pepperell said on Twitter:

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Sergio Garcia using Callaway equipment in Dubai

This is a tough call. Jon Rahm is a special talent and his ability to rise to the very top of the rankings in just a handful of European Tour starts reveals a calibre of player who will surely be one of the world’s best for many years to come. However, his success which has largely come from having qualified for the WGCs and majors at the start of the season has been built on his US Tour achievements. He played in 17 regular PGA Tour events in the 2017 season – 12 more than on the European Tour.

Jordan Smith’s achievements, while not earning him as much money are equally impressive. Given his higher level of support for the Tour, you can certainly see why some players feel he’s been hard done by.

Neil Tappin
Digital Editor

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."

Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X