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June 29, 2016

Jon Rahm

Reno, Nevada

THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Jon Rahm to the media center. Coming off a great week last week. What did you take away from last week and what was that week like being in contention there?

JON RAHM: It's a really positive week for me. It was great to start the way I did, totally not expecting it even though I was constantly on the golf course.

It was great to follow it with a great under-par round. And the fight that I had the third day after not being able to hit a single fairway and being in contention last week, it was really positive for me. I learned a lot about myself that week and sure learned a lot that I'm going to continue to work on to get better.

Q. Talk to me about qualifying for the Open. I would think that was pretty special as well.
JON RAHM: It was really special, because to be able to play as a pro in this tournament, I gave up that amateur exemption I had. And my first chance to make it it's just unbelievable. And as a European, it doesn't get better than the British Open. It's a great feeling to know I'm playing at Royal Troon, one of the historic courses over there in the UK. I couldn't be more excited.

Q. There are very few that have done what you're trying to do, which is come straight from college and earn a PGA TOUR card this year. What are the goals kind of for this year and what's the schedule look like the rest of the year?
JON RAHM: Well, I have invites for -- I had one for the Barbasol, unfortunately they gave me the invite, I said thank you very much for that, I'm not going to be able to play because I'm playing in the British Open. But I'm extremely thankful they gave the opportunity. I have the RBC Open and John Deere and Travelers.

And there's really not many goals. Honestly, I did have some coming into the summer, but I matured my last few months in college and I learned that I just need to get the experience and have as much fun as I can doing what I'm doing right now. If I start putting goals in my head I'm not going to perform at my highest level. I put that in practice last week. It paid off. I'm going to try to keep it that way.

Q. What are your thoughts about the golf course here and what are your expectations for this week?
JON RAHM: It's unbelievable. It's a really, really a pretty golf course. Obviously it's kind of hard to get used to the altitude because the ball flies wherever here. It goes really far and the wind, I've learned that it changes like crazy every five minutes. There's time when you have a downhill tee shot, you get to the second shot, it's against the wind.

And I played with a couple of players that have told me that already: To be very patient and hopefully try to take advantage of my length off the tee. Not many expectations because it's been a long time since the last time I played Stableford. So probably maybe take advantage of my aggressive play, be a little more aggressive. The greens are very firm today. If they run faster, it's not going to be easy to score low here.

Q. What was the last time you did Stableford, played Stableford?
JON RAHM: Back in Spain before I came to the States. Pretty much my golf club, everything is Stableford. Handicapped Stableford tournaments, unless you're a high ranked amateur.

We do a different format, though. For each par it's two points; birdie, three; eagle, four -- like that. And then bogeys, one and double bogey, zero. You always get points. But I mean same idea, same concept. But different point system.

Q. The timing of you turning pro, is that the way you had planned, or did it come sooner than you expected as far as to give up your amateur standing?
JON RAHM: No, it pretty much came up when I was planning pretty much with my family. Obviously it was a great bonus to get the number one, the McCormack Medal and get the invites. Had I not gotten the invites I would have tried to qualify for the Open and if not I would have turned pro at the same time. So it really hasn't changed much.

Q. Talk about your length off the tee. There's been some talk here about you don't take the club back as far as a lot of guys how are you able to generate so much power?
JON RAHM: Well, I'm 6'4", 230. I'm pretty sure that helps. But I really don't know what to tell you. When I was younger I did have like actually had an overswing. Hit this big hook. And my actual teacher told me you don't need that. You hit it long enough, just keep it straight.

And I feel like I've got more and more confident lately. And I'm making more aggressive swings. I'm still hitting it straight, which is -- it's just building up confidence. I really don't know where my power comes from. I couldn't tell you. But there's great players like J.B. Holmes takes it short and hits it a mile.

Q. Talk about growing up. Did you play any other sports or always golf from the outset?
JON RAHM: Golf is the last one I picked up. I was a goalie in soccer until I was about 14. I did canoeing. The Olympic canoeing style. I did what is known here in the states as jai alai. Instead of having the hockey stick, it's a wooden paddle. I did do Kung Fu for a while and a bunch of other different sports, whatever I picked up.

I started dropping everything and just staying with golf. There's something about this game that we all love for some reason.

Q. At what age did you give everything up for golf?
JON RAHM: Say 15 is when I started focusing more on golf.

Q. What are your thoughts on the field here, J.J. Henry, he has two titles here? You're going up against some players that have some experience here.
JON RAHM: Well, obviously even if some of the highest ranked players in the world are playing Akron this week, the depth of the field is still amazing.

And I can't forget that even if the best players are not playing here, people -- a lot of other great players who are playing here are probably going to take advantage of a week like this.

Obviously having experience in tournaments like this helps. Having experience playing in elevation and wind helps, which it might play against me. People not as young as me and there are people with a caddie who is not as experienced like mine.

Obviously just like any other week, we're going to have to play our best to win. It's no different. I feel like if anybody on the PGA TOUR has a good week they can win the tournament.

Q. What did you do differently to prepare for the altitude?
JON RAHM: Just trying to get -- on the first day of the practice round, what I did is tried to not use the range finder to work with the distance as we get used to knowing my yardages here.

What I did was mostly go to like the front edge of the green and be able to calculate how far short and how far long it went and try to get used to that. But it really depends what kind of ball you try to hit. If you hit a high shot downhill flies way longer. And the most difficult thing here is knowing where the wind is going to come from. If there's some wind and you misjudge it, it's a big difference.

Q. Were you surprised when you noticed how much the altitude does play a role in it?
JON RAHM: Big time. When I was hitting balls, even with the wedges like 70 yards, I was hitting it, feeling like the ball stayed in the air for extra seconds. Not to mention when I hit my first 8-iron, feels like I hit a 6-iron. It's confusing. And it's hard to trust when you have -- like I remember on 16, 230 downwind, having an 8-iron in my hand, it's just really hard to trust. So obviously we're going to have to make a decision and trust it.

Q. Your caddie was talking on the range about a putting drill you started at Waste Management. Can you describe that putting drill and how it works for you?
JON RAHM: Oh, it's a putting drill, putting drill he knows. It's a speed drill. Actually that week in Phoenix, before, my speed was all kind of messed up. I couldn't get it. You started -- so you put two tees behind the hole, at two feet and four feet -- sorry, five feet. You put on the other side, you put two, four -- sorry. Two, three, five, and then you go eight, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50.

From two, three and four, you hit five putts. Every time you miss a putt, if you leave it between the two feet tees, it's plus-1. If you leave it between the five feet tees, it's plus-3. If you go over that it's plus-5.

It's trying to have the least amount of points positive. If you make it, it's no points. So far I think the record is 12, which I think we did it that week in Phoenix.

It's kind of hard when you play on the 13th downhill, you hit eight, eight, have to make adjustments, go five, five, five, then go three from 8 feet, three from 15 feet, three from 20.

So it's really good to measure your distance. I did it at the Congressional last week and my speed control was great. I did it today again this week. I do it pretty much every time I go.

And it really helps me out to get used to the distance. We try to do it downhill and uphill to be able to measure it both. It's kind of complicated. But once you get the hang of it, it's fun and it actually puts some pressure on you when you're putting.

Q. Do you do it during tournament rounds or just in practice rounds?
JON RAHM: Just practice rounds. If I feel the speed of the greens changes a lot and I need to do it, I'll do it. Otherwise I feel like the work should be done before. And unless something is really, really off, like when we were playing Oakmont and the speed of the greens changed every other day, you might have to do it again. If not, just before the tournament.


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