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Walker Buehler meets Jon Rahm — on the mound, not the golf course

By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Walker Buehler is scheduled to throw to hitters Wednesday for the first time since he had a second Tommy John surgery last year.

At least the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher has some experience throwing to someone standing in the box — Masters champion Jon Rahm, of all people.

Both were nervous, even without Rahm holding a bat.

“The first time I was about 6 feet from the plate because I was freaked out,” Rahm said Tuesday at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. “Then I got as close as you can get. It seemed like the confidence I would have for making a 2-foot putt, he had for making sure he hit his spots.”

For Buehler, his concern last Friday was more his footwear. He was wearing tennis shoes for what normally is a turf mound at the Titleist Performance Institute in Oceanside, California. But with renovation at TPI, he was throwing off dirt.

“All I could think was I could smoke this guy in the hand,” Buehler said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “If I slip … because when you slip, you miss high on the arm side.”

All was well. Rahm is gearing up for his bid to become only the third player to go from the No. 1 seed to FedEx Cup champion and its $18 million bonus. Buehler still eyes an optimistic Sept. 1 return to the Dodgers. No one got hurt.

It was pure chance a two-time All-Star and two-time major champion would get together.

Rahm has been going to TPI since he was at Arizona State with his coach, Dave Phillips, and co-founder Greg Rose. He was feeling good with his body and his game and figured it would be a good time for 3D data testing to measure how his swing functions.

Buehler was in the bay next to him.

“Half of the Dodgers training squad came in,” Rahm said. “I said, ‘I’ve got to see this one guy live throw a pitch.’ I couldn’t believe when I saw the actual plate how small it is. I was like, ‘There’s no way you hit this all the time on command.’ He threw two lasers at the same spot. He said it was 85 mph. It didn’t seem like he was trying very hard.”

Buehler was equally impressed. He has about an 8 handicap index and pays attention to golf and knew the Masters and U.S. Open champion, though he had never met Rahm.

“For him to be the first guy who stood in there,” Buehler said with a laugh.

He retweeted the video from TPI and then said he sent this text to Dodgers fan Max Homa, the No. 4 seed in the PGA Tour’s postseason: “Should I have hit him for you?”

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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