Rahm: Learned to adjust swing due to clubfoot

  • Senior golf writer for ESPN.com
  • Covered golf for more than 20 years
  • Earned Evans Scholarship to attend Indiana University

SANDWICH, England — Jon Rahm is coming off a victory in the U.S. Open and is playing some of the best golf of anyone in the world.

So it seems odd that the newly crowned major champion from Spain who has been a top-10 player in the world for several years would ever be questioned about his short backswing.

But Rahm says it happens all the time. So he decided to explain why Tuesday at Royal St. George’s, where The Open begins Thursday.

He was born with a clubbed right foot.

“I have certain unique parts and certain physical limitations that let me swing the way I swing,” Rahm said. “And I don’t deviate from that.”

Rahm, 26, said when he was born, his right foot was turned at a 90-degree angle to the left. Bones in the angle were broken soon after birth and he was casted up to the knee, a procedure that occurred time and again over weeks early in his life.

“So from the knee down my leg didn’t grow at the same rate,” Rahm said. “So I have very limited ankle mobility in my right leg. It’s a centimeter and a half shorter, as well. So what I mean by limitations is I didn’t take a full swing because my right ankle doesn’t have the mobility or stability to take it.

“So I learned at a very young age that I’m going to be more efficient at creating power and be consistent from a short swing. If I take a full to parallel, yeah, it might create more speed, but I have no stability. My ankle just can’t take it.”

Rahm went on to say that he has little mobility in his wrists except in the position that often means a bowed or cupped position. There are some in golf who try to teach players not to do this; Rahm said it won’t work for him any other way.

“I’m hypermobile this way,” said Rahm, as he demonstrated. “I bow my wrist and that’s how I hit it. It’s little things that I think a lot of people can learn. Let your body dictate how you can swing. Simple as that. That’s why [coach] Dave [Phillips] has been such a great addition to me when I started with the Spanish Golf Federation, because they can teach me how my body moves and what I can or cannot do, what I’m going to be more efficient at doing. The main thing is my right foot. It’s just that ankle does not move much.”

Rahm, who was elevated to No. 1 in the world when he won the U.S. Open, dropped to second this week behind Dustin Johnson after finishing seventh last week at the Scottish Open.

He begins play Thursday at 4:58 a.m. ET with defending Open champion Shane Lowry and Louis Oosthuizen.

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