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August 10, 2016

Jon Rahm

Silvis, Illinois

AMANDA HERRINGTON: We'd like to welcome Jon Rahm to the interview room here at the John Deere Classic. Pretty impressive stuff since you made your professional debut at the Quicken Loans National, finishing top 3 two of those times to earn special temporary membership. Now you come in this week, your first start at John Deere, a place that is known for having some really great chances for young players to get that first win. Go ahead and talk about how you're feeling going into the week.

JON RAHM: Well, it's always a great feeling to get invited to a tournament like this. I knew it was special, but after going to the Big Dig yesterday and watching the course and how everything is handled here, it's a great event. I'm surprised it doesn't have a better field. Well, obviously this year because of the Olympics and the schedule, but I'm surprised it's not one of the strongest fields.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: In addition to the Big Dig, how has your reception been so far in the Quad Cities area?

JON RAHM: It's been great. We came straight here from the Travelers and played a Monday pro-am, and everybody has been nothing but the nicest they could be. It's been great so far. No complaints whatsoever.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Your name is in the conversation each week on TOUR now. Talk about how your goals have aligned and changed since leaving college, turning professional, and then being in contention.

JON RAHM: Well, I mean, my goals have never really changed. When I turned professional, my goal was to -- having those six starts, get my PGA TOUR card. I just achieved my goal way faster than I thought I was going to do it, and getting in extra things like playing the British Open, I mean, obviously extremely glad and like happy the way I've played and I haven't missed a cut, even with my "A" game I was able to put a great tournament in Canada, which I'm extremely proud of, gave myself a chance to get into a playoff. Same thing last weekend at the Travelers. I'm just looking forward to seeing if this is the week to see if I can put four days of good golf together.

Q. You lead a who's-who list this week of up-and-comers. If you were handicapping this field, this could be the week of a young gun really making his mark.
JON RAHM: I mean, it could be. There's a lot of us here. It's me, you have Wise, Danielson, Jordan Niebrugge, Robby Shelton. All of them real quality players who have beaten me many times before in college. I mean, there's a lot of good young players, but there's obviously a lot of other great players. Steve Stricker has a pretty good record here, Zach Johnson. Obviously any week, anybody could win, but they did give the opportunity to some young players to maybe get our first win here.

Q. Talk about the layout and what you've seen so far.
JON RAHM: On the course? You need to shoot low, and just from past tournaments, it did. When I played on Monday, I teed off on 9, which is probably one of the hardest holes on the course, and it did not seem like it was that easy of a golf course. I did not see 20-under pars, 22-under pars, even 26 sometimes. I did not see such a low score. But there is a lot of short irons into a lot of the par-4s if you can put the ball in play, and if you see the patterns where Zach, Steve, Jordan, they're all great putters and great short game. Pretty much that's what you've got to do besides obviously put it in play.

Q. Seems like you've enjoyed your short time here so far. What in particular has made this such a welcoming place for you?
JON RAHM: Well, the players have made it great for me. Ever since the U.S. Open before I turned pro, they were asking me when I was going to turn pro, and everyone has been nothing but extremely nice and telling me that I have a bright future ahead of me. Obviously that gives me a lot of confidence when I have people like Jordan Spieth at the U.S. Open telling me, good luck next week, you're going to be able to play good, you're going to do great.

I mean, it's really a great feeling that even before I played my pro debut they had such high expectations for me, even probably higher than I had for myself, which is great. And then the better I played, everybody just congratulated me so nicely.

When I played the U.S. Open, like Rory McIlroy stepped out of his way to come to me, congratulate me. Nick Faldo, I mean, there's just -- just brings a smile to my face every time I think about it, even if at the British I didn't play as good as I hoped, but just being there was a good thing. Having that what I've done so far, the way I've played, when you play good, everything seems easier.

Q. Does that motivate you even more when that feedback comes in?
JON RAHM: Oh, yeah, yeah, extremely. When you have the best players in the world acknowledging your game, obviously motivates me even more to keep playing that good and hopefully beat them some day.

Q. Jordan came in here a couple years ago with a special exemption. Do you think as a young professional you can capitalize on that opportunity?
JON RAHM: I mean, it could be -- the course does suit my eye. I do like it a lot. I usually love tree-lined courses, but a course like this actually lets me hit driver fairly often besides a couple holes like 5 and 6, but long par-5s where I can take advantage of my length. Complicated greens with a lot of slope, which I actually really like. It reminds me of my home course.

Then again, a lot of things need to happen for someone to get the first win, right? Jordan played great and holed out that great bunker shot on 18. Hopefully if I do it maybe with a little less suspense than that, but it could be, could not be. I still need to play great golf and get a little bit of luck to win a PGA TOUR event.

Q. Are there parts of your game that you're working on or have you achieved perfection?
JON RAHM: I don't think you ever achieve perfection in this game. The closest to perfection we've had is Tiger, and we all know he was looking for it every single day, but no, not nearly close. I'm not a perfectionist. I'm more of a feel player. Just whatever I feel like, whatever I feel that day is what I do. I do think my driving has improved since I've been on the PGA TOUR because fairways are a little narrower than they were in college. Certainly my short game for some reason is a lot better, and I find myself chipping in more often than I've had the last four years, which is extremely surprising for me.

But I have been working on my distance control. I feel like that was my biggest -- it was setting me back a little bit, the most, and I worked on it and worked -- the Travelers was probably one of the best ball-striking days I've had this year so far. I couldn't keep it going the next three days, but I'll certainly keep working on that distance control.

Q. Did you use some of the equipment at the Big Dig?
JON RAHM: Just one. What's the name? The digger, like the -- that's the only one I used. I was trying to go for the big one, but my caddie was using it, so I had to go for the smaller one. I mean, it certainly is fun. I remember when I first got in, the guy started telling me all the directions, and within two seconds of him being gone I forgot all of it. I had no idea -- the only thing I knew, I remembered was to go left to right. The rest I was just trying to remember how it went. It was kind of confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it -- obviously we didn't do it nearly as close as they did, and that show they do at the end. But it's still simply very fun.

Q. Anything about the conditions of the course itself that stand out to you?
JON RAHM: It's in great shape. I mean, it's in almost perfect shape. I mean, I'm guessing it's -- if the weather keeps being this good, it's going to get a little firmer than what it is right now, which might make it a little harder to hit some fairways, but a little bit easier on the greens with all the slope they have. If they're too soft it's pretty easy to spin it off or have the ball go away from the hole. But I mean, it's nearly perfect, and if the weather is like this, it's probably going to get even more perfect.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: We'd like to thank Jon for joining us today, and good luck this week.

JON RAHM: Thank you.

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