Congratulatory voice messages from Rafael Nadal, honorary membership at Augusta National and the ability to plan the Champions Dinner menu with a celebrity chef. These are just a few of the perks that come with winning the Masters, as Jon Rahm has discovered over the past 72 hours.
But one moment the Spaniard will always remember from his victory at the 87th Masters was a trip to Butler Cabin. Not the visit where he receives the green jacket on the television broadcast while doing an interview with Jim Nantz. A second, more meaningful visit.
“Between the [winner’s] press conference and then the dinner you have with [Augusta National] members, they took me to the top of Butler Cabin, where my whole family was there, and we had a drink and took a few pictures and relaxed,” Rahm said Wednesday at the RBC Heritage. “It was a very enjoyable 20 minutes in such a special cabin, just by ourselves for a little bit.”
Once Rahm left the quiet confines of Butler Cabin, it was back to sharing his second major championship title with the rest of the world. There was the dinner Sunday with Augusta National members. “I had no idea there was a dinner afterwards; I had heard it was just a cocktail,” Rahm said.
There were also well wishes from Spanish sporting heroes like Nadal, the tennis icon and 22-time Grand Slam winner. “I’ve seen him do unbelievable things, and I’ve texted him every time and left me a very nice voice message,” Rahm said.
And then the fans at this week’s RBC Heritage at famed Harbour Town Golf Links, which is now a $US20-million designated event.
“I’ve heard from a few players that were major champions that, once you win the Masters, things change. I didn’t realise to what extent because it’s [the reaction from people],” Rahm, an 11-time PGA Tour winner, said. “The excitement they feel once they see you and how badly they want a picture or an autograph is significantly higher than it was before. I’ve never had as many people watching me in the pro-am [Wednesday] apart from the Phoenix Open [where Rahm is celebrated as an Arizona State alum].”
That Rahm is even playing the RBC Heritage, the sixth designated event of the season, immediately after his Augusta victory is a surprise. No Masters champion has teed it up at Harbour Town since Jordan Spieth following his 2015 triumph.
“It did cross my mind,” Rahm said of withdrawing this week, like both Rory McIlroy and Jason Day did. “But I made a commitment earlier in the year, and I want to honor that. I was also talking to [my wife] Kelley, I put myself in the shoes of not only the spectators, but the kids as well. If I was one of the kids, I would want to see the recent Masters champion play, good or bad.”
Adding that “good or bad” line is perhaps tempering expectations for fans and media this week. But not for the man himself, a winner of four PGA Tour events this year.
“I still intend to hopefully do the jacket double and taking this one home,” Rahm said of the plaid jacket given to the RBC Heritage winner. “I can promise you that every time I tee it up in a tournament, it’s going to be to win.”
As Rahm wrapped up his talk with the media he was asked about another perk of winning the Masters—setting the Champions Dinner menu next year at Augusta.
“I think this is the part of [that] week I’ve given the most amount of thought already … Chef Jose Andres is a really good friend of mine, so I’ll be working with him,” Rahm said of the Spanish-American chef with restaurants across the U.S. “I think I have one of the appetizers down, which would be jambon [Spanish square pastries with ham inside], the dessert, which I won’t be disclosing, and the wine. Everything in between is still up in the air.”
What’s also up in the air is whom Rahm will share a locker with inside the Champions Locker Room at Augusta National. Rahm is the fourth Spaniard to win the Masters after multiple winners Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, as well as 2017 champion Sergio Garcia.
“Sergio shares a locker with ‘Ollie’, so that leaves Seve, and it would be an honour to share one with him,” Rahm said.