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July 18, 2017

Jon Rahm

Southport, England

MIKE WOODCOCK: Good afternoon. Delighted to welcome Jon Rahm, a two-time winner this year into the interview room.

Jon, you come into The Open on the back of a great win in Ireland. Must give you a lot of confidence going into this week at the Open.

JON RAHM: Yeah, in Ireland, I mean I had not played my best golf on links golf course yet. Obviously if it's not my best, it was really close to my best that week. To shoot the score that I did, especially final round, it does give me a little bit of confidence. I can read the greens. I interpreted the wind properly. I'm hitting it properly to have my ball perform in the wind. So obviously I take a lot of positives from that week that I'm going to be able to apply this week.

Q. What does it mean psychologically to have won on a links golf course two weeks before The Open?
JON RAHM: Well, the two courses are a little bit different. It's always within links golf there are a little bit different styles. But nonetheless, it gives me a lot of confidence just because of what I just said, right? I've had problems before in the past with spinning the ball too much, not being able to control the distances, not being able to control my trajectory properly, but in Ireland my iron play was superb. I haven't hit the ball that good in a long time. And on top of that I was able to roll the ball in a good line and read the breaks properly. So that obviously gives a lot of confidence into a week like this.

Q. I'd like to know your opinion about Rafa's victory on Sunday, it's the second in a row for Spanish golf. Can I get your opinion on Rafa's game and on this great moment of Spanish golf?
JON RAHM: What can I say but we are extremely excited. Rafa and I are good friends. I got to know him pretty good starting with the World Cup in Australia. And his game doesn't have many weaknesses, especially on links golf. He can keep the steady swing, steady tempo. Extremely good ball-striker, backed up with a really good short game. His touch around the green and the putter is really amazing. And he grew up in the Canary Islands, which is a pretty windy place, he's plenty experienced in the wind and he can perform well. The proof of it is Scotland. He's played really good golf in the last few years and has gotten close, and he got it done in a great fashion; 8-under par in the final round, that 3-wood on 18 was unbelievable was unbelievable, and it was a great win.

And we have to go back in history to see when two Spanish players won two in a row. Really special moments, especially Sergio having won the Masters, all three of us in the top four in the face to Dubai, high in the World Rankings. From what I can remember, it has been a long time since a Spanish golfer has had such a high, and in my opinion, it's great I'm part of it, and I'm such good friends with the two others out there. Hopefully the other guys can feed off of that and we can keep playing good golf.

Q. How comfortable are you with being viewed as one of the favourites this week? And secondly, just talk us through your second shot in 17 in the practice round today.
JON RAHM: (Laughing) Well, first of all, you know, to me, it still takes a little bit of adjusting period. This is my fourth major that I've ever played. And each one's been a very different feeling, right? At Oakmont I was an amateur, finished top 20. At the Open last year at Troon I was a pro for the first time, but my game wasn't there yet. And this year, at the Masters I started great and I was already up in the rankings. And after a win in Ireland and being top 10 in the world, it certainly is a different experience, which I'm enjoying a lot.

It feels great to actually have the people support and helping me. I like to put that in a positive place. I know why there's some confidence in me from people who think I'm going to play good this week. And I like to think if they have the faith in me, I should have faith in myself that I'm going to do it properly. So I try to feed positively off of that.

And there was some element of luck. I was trying to hit the slow fade, kind of land on top of the bunker and go somewhere on the green. The ball just went a little straighter than I thought. The wind took it to the left, and I believe it landed on the rough. I can't tell where it landed exactly. It bounced off of the left bank and rolled up to three feet. So similar to what Padraig did in '08, he had the same situation, but landed in a similar spot. And yeah, was able to make a eagle on 17. Hopefully I can repeat it this week.

Q. What did you take away from the U.S. Open experience, just sort of the magnifying glass that you found yourself under when you weren't playing like you wanted to.
JON RAHM: Well, there was a lot of things that went into that week. I've said before, one of my goals for the year, actually even before the year, it wasn't a goal in my mind, but being top 10 in the world. But I achieved it so fast that I kind of feel like, oh, wow. I kind of relaxed a little bit because I achieved a high goal in my mind so early in my career. And I think I played bad at Memorial because of that. And then when I got to the U.S. Open, I tried to control too much. I tried to do too much. I tried to take care of too many things at the same time. And this game when you try to control a lot of things, most of the time the course controls you, and that happened. I really couldn't actually take control of really my golf swing. I wasn't sure where the ball was going to go. Even if I fight hard, I ended up missing the cut.

From that experience you can always choose to not change anything and stay in the same path and probably fall on the same point again. Or, like I did, I talked to my team and made some work with my mental coach and feel like I came back stronger, learned from myself. Learned what I have to do now to manage my own mental strength and hopefully play good in future majors.

Q. Inevitable comparisons have been made that Jon Rahm is the new Seve. Just wonder what you recall of Seve and how comfortably that sits on your shoulders?
JON RAHM: Well, I wasn't fortunate to be able to watch Seve much. My family didn't get into golf pretty much up to the close 2000s and by then, you know, he was already on the downslope of his career. He had some physical problems. I wish we would have, though. I've seen every video on YouTube that you can of Seve. I've seen his video here in '76, his one winning in '79 about a million times, how he plays the back nine without hitting the fairway, and makes 4-under par, it's absolutely unbelievable.

To whoever compares me to him, I'm never going to be Seve. Seve was so unique, so special, to be honest, if we ever see someone like him again it is going to be someone very, very special. Because what he did was special for Spanish golf and Spanish community it was so special. He opened so many doors. And he is somewhat the reason why I play golf, because of that Ryder Cup in 1997. I'm pretty sure he had some influence in getting the Ryder Cup there, and being the captain and how he brought the game of golf to Spain and the Spanish community, and directly because of that my dad and some friends tried golf and that's how I started playing.

So if I can make -- if by my own, let's say, career, I can make just one kid who's future was not related to golf, play golf, I'll be extremely happy. And I'm probably one of thousands. So when I'm compared to him it's really beautiful to hear those words. To be honest, if I'm somewhat compared to him, to see the hopes people have in me, it's amazing. I try to take it as a positive and embrace it. He's a great idol of mine and I try to emulate a lot of things he used to, and a lot of that is the inspirational power he had, the way he brought masses together and people together. If I could do a quarter of whatever he did, I'd probably be satisfied with my career.

Q. Do you see yourself very much as your own man?
JON RAHM: Well, I'm different to him. I try to be the best Jon Rahm I can be. Seve was Seve, and I try to make a name for myself.

Q. (No microphone.)
JON RAHM: No, I've been asked that before. But that comes out of the moment, you can't practice it.

Q. Is there more an emphasis this week on keeping the ball in play off the tee than what you encountered a couple of weeks ago at Portstewart?
JON RAHM: Yeah, yeah. I would say so just because at Portstewart there were so many people. To have almost a hundred thousand people watching us on the course that was rather tight. Luckily for us the rough was usually facing towards the green. If you missed the fairway, you could get a good lie.

Here it's a little bit of a gap and it's overall a little harder of a golf course. You need to keep it in play. And as history shows, it's not the kind of golf course where you are going to shoot very low and end up winning by a lot. Last champion here, Padraig Harrington won with 3-over par. We know how tough a test it is, and it starts at the tee. If you can keep it in the fairway, you have a good chance.

Q. To follow up on the Seve question, first of all, who did you follow as a kid that got you kind of interested in golf that you would watch and see what they? Did. Secondly, is there any part of your game that you'd like to emulate of Seve's?
JON RAHM: Well, I grew up in the Tiger and Phil era, right? So they're both great references of mine. Every player now growing up my age tried to copy somewhat of what Tiger did because of how dominant he was in the game of golf. I'm not sure anybody is going to come close to that, but we all try to.

Also as a Spaniard, obviously Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio were huge references of mine. Luckily I have been able to play with both of them and learn from both of them. Olazabal has given me tips over the years. And I still learn from Sergio every time I play with him. His ball-striking is beyond belief, so anytime I play with him, I try to ask a few questions and I learn.

From Seve, besides the driving, you can probably pick any part of his game. But obviously he was a short-game magician. If any of us could have his short game nowadays, you'd be absolutely amazing.

Q. (Inaudible) Referring to Sergio, Is there any particular advice he has given you that make you think you can do that quicker?
JON RAHM: I haven't asked him anything about that. I'm trying to take his time, enjoy the Masters win, and he enjoys to enjoy it as much as he can. I haven't asked him any questions about that week. He deserves to enjoy it. But he kind of had showed up on the scene, came in, won the Irish Open and face to face against Tiger a couple of times.

Luckily for me, I don't have to face Tiger Woods in the prime of his career. But there are a lot of other players that can play high quality golf. And I'm still 22 and whatever it takes, if it takes 85 tries to win a major, I'll still be happy with that.

Q. Physically and mentally how different is the tournament on the links course played to regular tournaments?
JON RAHM: Well, you know, mentally, I wouldn't say physically it's that tough, because there's not many slopes to deal with. But mentally it can get really tiring just because of the weather. You can have weather changes real quick. The wind changes real quick. And the fact that you have to think your way around the golf course a lot. You have so many options that that constant thinking takes a toll on you, especially if the weather and the wind changes. If you have a day like today and the afternoon you get unlucky, you get a bad break, and the wind picks up or the rain comes or a storm. It's just things that happen in links golf you need to be ready for. And that's always going to take some energy out of you, because you have to deal with the umbrella, trying to stay dry, thinking about the shot. You can miss some shots or you're going to have to process those. There's just a lot of energy spent on thinking about the golf course and the game. And that's probably why we love it. There's so many options, so many things that can happen that it makes it many so much more fun.

Q. (No microphone.)
JON RAHM: The people that do it, I mean, you have some time to rest, and a lot of people nowadays, most of the players are in extremely good shape. So physically that's not a problem. But we do it for the mental test. You get used to hitting those shots. You get used to thinking that way. When you come to The Open week it's similar, to keep going what you've been doing.

Q. Would you mind giving an answer in Spanish.

Q. Can you tell us what were the lessons learned from last year's Open that will help you perform this time around?
JON RAHM: (Speaking in Spanish.)

Q. When you went to across to America, you said you had listened to rap music. What rap quote would you take that would sum up what you're trying to do?
JON RAHM: A quote? There's a lot of lyrics in my mind. Well, you know, I listen to a lot of Eminem, and he has a lot of songs that can very inspirational. To pick one, it's a little hard. Especially with the language that is spoken in those songs, I don't really want to say anything bad on TV or anything. But song-wise, there's two of them that I like to listen before every round and that would be Not Afraid and 'Til I Collapse. Both of them by Eminem.

Q. Why?
JON RAHM: They're very motivational. Most of them are not giving up and fighting your way through. And in my case it gets me to the mental state that I need to be to play golf.

Q. When do you listen to that, would be that be on the range, before you go on the range, before the first tee?
JON RAHM: I go putt first, for the first ten minutes I have it on just because I kind of relaxes me, I get a little bit in the zone, I don't think too much of the golf game. And then I hit some putts and get the ball rolling. Then I do it ten, 15 minutes before I go to the tee box, when I'm putting, I'll do it then. Same reason, to get in the zone and not get too many technical thoughts.

Q. Can you elaborate on your work with the mental coach, when did that relationship start and what have you kind of gotten out of it?
JON RAHM: Many things. He's helped me mature a lot. We started, I believe it was summer of 2014, right before the U.S. Am. Actually just before, in that year I won the Spanish Am, which for me is a huge deal. And that was my junior year in college. The start of my junior year. So that is when I really took off in my career in college. And he just showed me many things. But we mainly worked in my life outside golf. The better my life and my relationship, my relationships were outside the golf game the better I was going to be able to perform in golf.

So we worked a lot on my relationships with my teachers, having a good relationship with them, good communications, being able to just not think on the golf course. That was the main reason, the main thing. And I really can't remember everything we did, obviously. But my teammates, my parents, girlfriend, anybody who really has an impact on my life, just working on those communications. And then when it comes to the golf game, for a long time and lately there's a lot of things that have been going on, but working a lot on mindfulness, which is being aware of the moment. And mainly trying to focus on right now. Started a couple of new exercises last Sunday, the last time I played a Sunday in the Irish Open, and it worked extremely well. I surprised myself. It shows that whatever we're doing is working, so hopefully I can keep it up.

Q. The incidence on the 6th green at the Irish Open continued to generate a lot of comments after your win. I just wonder do you have any further thoughts or comments?
JON RAHM: Surprised it took that long for it to come up, obviously. There's no comment. In the moment it was just unintentionally done. I was trying to move my marker for Daniel Im to putt, and I put it back as close as I thought it was when I finished. I didn't have a chance to see the footage, right? I went straight to scoring and I met with Andy, and Andy told me what happened, they had reviewed it and they said, they told me, we made the ruling, there's not going to be a penalty stroke. Once they said that, I thought it was over. I stopped thinking about it, and I focused on what I had done and what I had to do. I didn't really think much about it.

But I think the base of everything for them and the decision that the European Tour rules official made was that it was unessential. I knowingly marked it on the side of the ball, moved it. To my judgment, I put it back exactly where it was. And if I moved it or anything, it was completely unintentional. So that's all I had. That's everything I had to tell them. And that's everything I have to say right now. That's really all I can say, there was nothing more to it.

Q. Can you describe your relationship with Tim Mickelson? And also, did you earn any money off that birdie, birdie, eagle round this afternoon?
JON RAHM: No, we were not playing for any money. We really just had a fun day going, and trying focus on the score, and the fact that I played that well does help a lot.

And what can I say about Tim? He started out as my college coach, and as our relationship developed and the more he helped me, the more comfortable I got with talking to him and telling him my problems. And he kind of ended up being almost as a father figure to me in the States, which is very nice, because my parents were all the way in Spain. And I don't know what else to say. When it came to the choice to have someone guide me through the pro career, I don't know when exactly I asked him, but I thought it would be really nice to have the same person that was my college coach, and I saw the nice job he did with everybody, especially me. So I asked him and luckily he said yes, and since then it's been very similar.

We're great friends. Whenever I have a problem or anything I need he's always there for me, 24/7. He does an incredible job. And then if anything personal comes up, he's always been really helpful. And the fact that he's doing (inaudible) we have a lot of people in the business that can help out whenever he's not there for me. So it's amazing to have the help that I have.

Q. Way back a long, long time ago, 13 months ago, when you got to Congressional, I wonder what details you remember about what you were thinking, what you were like and that 64 at the start?
JON RAHM: I remember everything about that day. What I was thinking, to be honest, was I was trying to play the best golf I could, because that's all the start that I had for the year and get my Tour card. I did not want to go to Q-School or Web.com finals. And I knew I had the game to do it. And then, you know, Congressional is not an easy course, but after playing Oakmont it seemed like it. It was such a tough test that the rough at Congressional seemed easier. Everything seemed easier. I went in confident and luckily I had a superb ball-striking day. Tee to green it was one of the best, if not the best week I ever had, and backed it with a putter shooting 64, I wasn't aware of how good a score that was. I think I had a 2-shot lead starting the day the next day. It was absolutely amazing. I could not have felt any better.

As I said, I was looking forward to something like that. And having a great start to my career as a pro. Had I not shot that 64, maybe I wouldn't be standing where I am right now. But starting that way gave me a lot of confidence and kept me going, and thanks for it coming out the way it did.

MIKE WOODCOCK: Thanks for joining us. Good luck this week.

JON RAHM: Thank you.

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