As a young child, he played football and Basque pelota, and practised Kung Fu. That was before, at the age ten, he picked up a golf club for the first time. He eventually became the world’s number one amateur golfer. By the end of 2017, aged 22, he was vying for position as the world’s number one professional golfer. The name of this Bizkaia-born giant and self-avowed Athletic Bilbao football fan is Jon Rham. He is currently the most famous Basque on the planet.
He could have been a Basque pelota player, in any of its different expressions. Or he could have got into competitive rowing or any of the traditional Basque sports. Or, with a physique like his, he would have made a formidable rugby player. At 1.88 m tall, and weighing 100 kg, Jon Rham is a 22-year-old powerhouse. Despite all of this, he chose to harness his strength into controlling a 46g 43mm-diameter golf ball.
A native of the small coastal town of Barrika (Bizkaia), Rham is currently the biggest sensation in the golf world. He is also, undoubtedly the most well-known Basque and Bizkaia native anywhere. While his drives invite gasps of admiration, when playing short shots, this impulsive, intuitive, technical player is well able to coax the ball into the hole.
Midway through 2017, he became the fifth youngest player ever to become one of the world’s top ten golfers, by the end of the year he had moved up and was rubbing shoulders with the golfing elite. He is currently in the running for any of the major prizes this season. He has already won first prize at the Career Builder Challenge and second at the SONY Open. His advertising contracts with international brands Adidas, Bighorn, Rolex, Isagenix and Taylor Made are a testament to his status as an emerging talent in world of golf.
He had been number one in the world’s amateur rankings for 60 weeks by the time he turned professional. His numerous wins at important championships earned him a full scholarship at the University of Arizona where he joined, and shone as a member of the Sun Devils golf team.
The ancestor who moved from central Europe to settle in Bizkaia two centuries ago could never have imagined that the surname Rham would one day be spoken by golf fans all over the world, from Hawaii, to Scotland, Ireland, Dubai, USA, Spain and South Africa.