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March 24, 2017

Jon Rahm

Austin, Texas

CANDACE REINHEIMER: Jon, you have an impressive 3-0 record this week, including a 6 & 4 victory over fellow Spaniard, Sergio Garcia. Can you talk us through your round today.

JON RAHM: Yeah, I mean, at first there was a reason why I was a little hesitant, the weather was not looking great. So we didn't know if we were going to have to stop or not, and I think that kind of affected my game a little bit. I was a little shaky off the tee on the first two holes.

Luckily, I had a great par on 1, had a birdie chance on 2, ended up making a birdie on 3 and got the round started right. Once I made that birdie, got a lot of confidence on my swing and played really, really good golf from then on. Honestly almost perfect.

Q. How much have you watched Sergio play over the years? And secondly, did you relish the chance to get to play him in this or would you rather play other guys and not have to face him?
JON RAHM: Well, I'd rather not play a fellow Spaniard. Obviously, representing Spain, we want as many Spaniards to make it as far as possible. But worse came to worse, and luckily whoever won today was going to make it through. Out of that, at least we are happy that was going to happen.

Several reasons why you're looking forward to play a countryman. We're friends and we know it was going to be a great battle. We knew we were going to have fun. And just the emotion, sentiment of being friends and being out here in the World Golf Championship, it really is something that wanted us to beat each other a little more, made it a little more special.

Yeah, I watched him play growing up, as much as I could. My first memories of watching golf is in '04, '05, and it really is -- Sergio's career was really good. Obviously I've seen what he's done before that, I've seen all the videos possible on the Internet and I've been following his career forever. He's a great role model of mine. And it was really, let's say, emotional win for me just because I've seen him -- he's been such a great idol and role model for me to follow.

Q. What has winning so early done for your comfort level and for your confidence level?
JON RAHM: Well, winning is winning, right? I think the biggest difference is that the last two days I finished quite late. And tomorrow having an early tee time, finishing early is going to allow me to rest more and be physically and mentally a little more rested for tomorrow.

Q. What about on Tour?
JON RAHM: Oh, I thought you meant today.

Q. What did it do to your comfort level and confidence level?
JON RAHM: It truly is a huge confidence boost. The main thing is not winning, it's the way I won where I won. Torrey Pines, it was a dream of mine to play there. It's not a place where rookies usually win for the first time. And to win the way I did it, it's something that has showed me that I really -- one of those moments that showed me my true potential. You can always fantasize and think about it, but when you show yourself what you can do, it's really inspiring to yourself and motivational. It motivates me to keep practicing hard and playing good golf. Because I want to keep doing what I did.

Q. Did Sergio sort of wish you well going forward after the match? You said you sort of thought about him and watched him when you were young and watched the earlier videos. Did you ever see yourself hitting a shot and running up the hill, pretending to be like him?
JON RAHM: Of course. He congratulated me and wished me the best of luck. I know that he's bitter that he lost, but being a friend of him, he wanted to go as far as possible. And, yeah, I believe the course, there's a couple of holes that set up perfectly to do that kind of thing, hitting it up in the trees and start running after it. I've done it a few times. Not the same stage or pressure, but I've done it before.

Q. Can you trace a little bit for us your career, how you ended up at Arizona State and how many tournaments you won there?
JON RAHM: He can tell you that story better than I can.

It really was an unconventional -- I was an unconventional recruit. I had one offer to University of San Francisco. And even if I was -- my senior year of high school I was top 50 in World Rankings. The main reason why, my family, I didn't know that we had a contact at universities. We didn't know that coaches like Tim couldn't talk to us, physically or via email or anything else. So I lost a lot of chances probably like that before.

But it was so late on the year, a couple of months before school started where he got an empty spot on the roster and Ricardo Relique, a guy who works for the Spanish Golf Federation here in the States, who went to USD, contacted him and let him know that I was available. I wanted to go to the States and actually University of San Francisco wanted me to wait one more year, because they confused my age. And he sent me a message -- and what was it, about 20 minutes, two minutes? Whatever it took, I said, let's do it. I mean, I did not put up a fight or ask for anything, I was just happy I was going to such a good school.

And I knew a couple of the Spaniards had played there and done really, really well. So I gave it a run.

Q. (Inaudible)?
JON RAHM: No, there was no time. When I showed up my first day, it was Sunday and the school year had already started. Technically I was late. And with my English and not knowing at ASU, how big it was, I was quite lost for a while.

Q. (Inaudible.)

Q. Your coach is Phil Mickelson's brother. Knowing Phil using a lot of styles of physics, math, to understand his golf, is it the same with your Tim?
JON RAHM: With me?

Q. With your coach?
JON RAHM: Oh, no, no, I'm not like that whatsoever. I'm probably the complete opposite. I'm a feel player. So it's whatever I feel at the moment. I don't really -- I'm not that mathematical. Because if I start thinking so much, so mechanically or so technical, I can't hit the ball. It's more what I feel.

And Tim, when he was my coach, he just guided me to be the best player I could be. He didn't try to change anything or go towards that. Each one of us has different ways to see golf. And obviously Phil likes to think about what he's doing. And in my case, I like to feel it more than think about it.

Q. Given the success you've already had, outside expectations have sort of ramped up and people look at Augusta and this and that. Do you embrace what other people expect of you or do you try to ignore it?
JON RAHM: I try to embrace it. I work a lot on positivity. I found out early if I have positive thoughts I'm going to play a lot better and that it really is something to be thankful for. When people have the expectations or the vision that I'm going to play so good, I like to take that as a positive, because if other people believe in me the way they do, why shouldn't I believe in myself the same way?

Q. Can you take us through that 9th hole? That was sort of match play at its best, wasn't it?
JON RAHM: It was, yeah. He hit a great drive. He hit a perfect tee shot. And I thought mine was good. I hit it a little high on the face. And they told me it hit the lip and went back in the bunker. Once in that position, I knew I had to hit a good shot. He had just a wedge shot, so if I didn't hit it close, he was going to hit it really, really close. So I had to put pressure on him. Luckily, it was the perfect 9-iron distance. I hit a 9-iron on 7 and it just flew way past the pin. It's just things that happen in golf. I thought to myself, the gods of golf are going to help me on this one. And aimed to the right to the green, tried to hit a draw, the wind pushed it left, I'd be 12 feet, 15 feet straight up the hill. And that's where I put a little pressure on Sergio. He had to hit it closer than me to reapply the pressure to me. Unluckily for him he missed that shot and left himself with a tough bunker shot. When I had to hit that shot, I did it and winning that hole was a huge thing for me.

Q. You guys had a little bit of a walk after that hole. Did he say anything to you after that?
JON RAHM: He told me great shot. Obviously he too happy with the way he ended up playing that hole, so he didn't say much.

Q. How does your aggressive mindset as a golfer pair up with match play as a format?
JON RAHM: I think it's great. Match play, especially on this course, is really -- the risk-reward, it's amazing how much you can get rewarded here with the right place.

But I think I've been pretty aggressive the first two days, and today I've been a little more conservative. On No. 5 I didn't hit a driver, I hit an iron to leave myself a wedge distance, trying to play the odds a little bit more. But I think it sets up perfect for me. I feel like all of us Spaniards really play good at match play because of our aggressive mindset. It kind of relates to you a little bit that if you miss it, it's only going to be 1-down or at the end of the day you're only going to have a chance to hit a good shot and reapply the pressure on your opponent. I think that's why that mindset really works well.

Q. What would you say your career goals are at this point? Do you think you're ready at 22 to win a major?
JON RAHM: Career goals, I'd rather keep that within my team. As I've said many times when I compete in a golf tournament is to win. I might win, I might not, but I'm going to have the mindset. And I do believe in my capabilities and I have extreme confidence in my game. So I don't know if I will, but hopefully I'll be able to win a major some day.

CANDACE REINHEIMER: Thank you, Jon. Good luck tomorrow.

JON RAHM: Thank you.

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