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October 11, 2017

Jon Rahm

Parco Reale di Monza, Italy

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Great pleasure to welcome you back to Italy and The European Tour. Great to have you here at The Italian Open. Give us your thoughts on being here.

JON RAHM: Well, first of all, thank you. General thoughts, well, I want to say, first thing to say is probably congratulate The European Tour, because with a very limited time, I think they have put together a very, very nice event, very successful. It's very well organised, given the time that they had given, really; a brand new driving range which is absolutely outstanding. Really proud of what they have done and basically on a countdown since -- I know it was a couple months ago, and that's tough to accomplish. I think we are all very happy with that.

The course is fantastic. It's always great to come back to Europe and play all those traditional golf courses that I don't play in the States that often, courses that are 60, 70, 80, a hundred years old. Hasn't been altered much and it's beautiful to play, and it's really, really fun and I really enjoy it, so hopefully I can play some good golf.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Quick thoughts on the Rolex Series events. Obviously you won The Irish Open. Nice to knock another one off? Nice to win another one?

JON RAHM: Hopefully I can win another one. Well, I think I already expressed this in France and Ireland, how important I think those tournaments are for The European Tour. I think it's great, Rolex is getting this involved in it for The European Tour.

In the States, we already have the FedExCup Playoffs and some other events that are key throughout the year, and I think Europe, besides Crans Montana and Wentworth, it was missing something like that, right. So now you have tournaments like in Turkey and South Africa, Ireland and France and Italy and Dubai are given a lot of importance.

So you have six or seven events that are very, very important through the year, and I think it's great, not only for players who are out here every year, but for people like me who are playing bother tours to have some parts of the year to focus on; I think it's really important.

It's always great to see The European Tour grow. I think it's the beginning of something great and hopefully it can become something greater.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Quick word on your playing partners? 1, 2, 3 in The Race to Dubai, nice draw. Is that a big goal for the end of the season?

JON RAHM: I wouldn't be here if it wasn't a big goal for me. I would be here; it became a goal of mine after Ireland. Before that, I wasn't really anywhere in the Race to Dubai. I was up there after México, but after winning Ireland, I really became conscious of the fact that I could win it.

It became a goal of mine, especially once I learned that nobody since Seve in Spain has won it. Olazábal hasn't been able to win it, and Sergio. So hopefully now that we have three Spaniards in the top four, we get the Englishman out of there. (Laughter).

My playing partners: Sergio and I get along great. It's a true honour to be playing with him. Masters Champion this year, it's even more of an honour to play with someone like Sergio and learn from him.

And then Tommy, who is closer to my age, and is just a great guy. I remember the last time I spoke to him, he was close to becoming a father. I don't know if he's a father already or not but if he is, congratulations for that. He's been playing some great golf and on top of that, he's won, what, twice this year, Abu Dhabi and France. He's leading The Race to Dubai, and he's playing some outstanding golf worldwide.

You know, he's very, very deserved to be in the No. 1 spot right now, and I'll be looking forward to play with him. Played with him in France, a great guy. A lot of good golf that he played that week and it was impressive and hopefully we have a couple good days.

Q. Saw you in the chipping area with Jose Maria Olazábal yesterday. What was it you were working on with him, and how good is it for you to have someone as inspirational as Ollie around?
JON RAHM: I think Ollie has been a teacher for everybody on The European Tour. We're working on some shots from about 20 to 30 yards. I asked TaylorMade to get some stats done for me and to let me know what I could improve on for next year, and from ten to 30 yards on the PGA TOUR has not been up to the rest of my game.

I was just asking him what he does. I hit a couple shots and he gave me a couple tips and also told me a couple things Seve used to do. I have a few things to work on. I have to see if it works for me or not, but so far based on yesterday, it really does.

Q. The European Tour has decided that the next Austrian Open in June will be a different one. During the tournament, each player will have 40 seconds to play each shot. Do you know this?
JON RAHM: No, I had no idea.

Q. What do you think about this? So if you go out of the 40 seconds, you will be penalised one shot.
JON RAHM: I think it's great. I could have done it in 20 seconds. I mean, to be honest, I don't like waiting on the golf course. I know eventually every once in a while everybody is going to take a little longer because you're indecisive and you might have a wind.

But as a general norm, I don't like waiting. My caddie and I are pretty fast. You get a number, you hit it; there's nothing else around.

And my belief, probably, most of this is probably for the time spent on the greens, is my guess. From my experience, that's where players spend most of their time. But I mean, I think pace of play has become a concern in golf, especially major championships.

It's just something that it takes -- we know it's an important week and people take a lot of time. I'm just glad The European Tour is trying to do something about it. It's good to hear about that and hopefully spreads out to more events. I mean, I know there's going to be some people complaining, and others who are not going to be complaining, but I think it's a good start. At least they are trying to do something about it.

Q. Do you think there should be any guidelines?
JON RAHM: There has to be some guidelines. You can't be strict, oh, 40.5 seconds penalised, it can't be something like that. It all depends on the circumstance. But if you're in the middle of the fairway with no wind whatsoever and you take more than 40 seconds, yeah, you might actually need to be penalised.

If it's blowing 30 that week or you're in the trees or you're leading by one in the final round, there's always the exemptions where you can maybe take a little longer. But maybe you have a 3-footer for par or birdie or whatever it is, shouldn't be taking more than 40 seconds at all. You know, if you have a 60-footer, it might take a while to walk back and forth, so maybe you have to think on the possibilities.

But you know, if it's just a regular shot with nothing added, with no nothing special about it, yeah, I think it's a great idea.

Q. You've played quite a few events on The European Tour. How settled do you feel on The European Tour in this environment, and how does it compare to what you expected it to be like?
JON RAHM: I've played two events in Europe. It's not like I'm not settled yet (laughing). Well, I didn't know what to expect. All I had was the year on the PGA TOUR. It just a little different. The whole vibe is a little different. I think it's a little friendly than what the PGA TOUR can be. It's probably just a little friendlier, and it's probably just because I hang out with all the Spanish players and we are all friendly with each other.

But as a general, the vibe you get, everybody is joking with each other a little more than I see on the PGA TOUR. I don't know why. Maybe Europeans are just happier, I don't know. It's something I've noticed the whole vibe; it's a little more relaxed than it can be on the PGA TOUR.

Q. As you know, The Ryder Cup is arriving in Italy in 2022. In your opinion, how is it possible to have an improvement of the Italian golf with The Ryder Cup?
JON RAHM: How it's possible? Before The Ryder Cup?

Q. Do you think it can be useful for The Ryder Cup?
JON RAHM: Oh, definitely. The Ryder Cup in Spain is the main reason why I play golf nowadays. There will be a lot of people that will learn about golf and maybe get the idea about golf and maybe play golf because of it.

Thanks to the '97 Ryder Cup, my dad started playing golf. Nobody in my family ever played golf before and because of that I play golf nowadays. I do believe it can make a huge impact on Italian golf. Nothing special needed to be done. It's probably the best 24 players of the year playing, competing against each other.

It's such an important event that just to go watch it, even if you don't know anything about golf, it's really fun. Nothing special about doing The Ryder Cup needs to be done. It will help Italian golf a lot.

Q. From Facebook: What's your favourite snack out on the course?
JON RAHM: It changes. I'm going to say, I have a lot of either peanuts, cashews or almonds on the golf course, either one of those.

Q. Is it strange to now be the top-ranked European player in the world?
JON RAHM: I think, yeah, it's a little odd to be honest to be ahead in the rankings of Rory McIlroy, it feels a little weird.

But there's always circumstances to that, right. I mean, Rory has had a couple great years because of the way the points go. As soon as you have a little bit of a letdown in a couple months, you're going to go down in the rankings. I have nothing like that -- just a pile of points that can go up.

It is a little weird but that's the reason why, maybe if I'm still in the same spot in a couple years, well maybe I'll feel a little different.

Q. And who is the best player you've played with, and why?
JON RAHM: It's a tough one. I mean, there's two that come to mind. Again, Rory McIlroy. It's just really impressive to watch the guy play all throughout. Everything is powerful and really, really special. There's something special to the way he hits the ball and there's something special to the way he does things.

Sergio is up there, too. Sergio's ball-striking is beyond belief.

I've played a lot with Rickie Fowler and to watch that guy from a hundred yards in is really, really special. The guy makes every putt and he's really good with the wedges.

In different measures, both Rickie and Rory, probably also due to the fact of their size. They are not big guys but they hit it really far and they are really impressive. That's probably the part that impresses me the most.

Q. So you've had four Top-10s in your last four starts, but for someone with such high standards, is that still frustrating in a way?
JON RAHM: It's not frustrating, no, but yeah, I do have high standards. So I keep looking for what went wrong. Like in Chicago, I could have done better to hopefully won one of those events. I am conscious of finishing in the top events in all of the FedExCup. It's not too shabby. Not a bad thing whatsoever.

But I am, I did think about those weeks and see what could have gone better to maybe finish a little higher or have won one of those. We are professional athletes and it's what we do. If we didn't strive for the best, we wouldn't be in those situations.

Q. How many times will you hit the driver on this course? And you have a wonderful season, you've played so-so in the majors. Have you an opinion about this and why this happened?
JON RAHM: Well, thanks for reminding me of that (laughter). The majors, I really don't know. If I knew, I would be able to tell you or probably wouldn't have played bad in those.

I believe I heard Justin Thomas talk about this after the U.S. Open. Much like him, I think my expectations or the pressure on myself was a little high during those weeks just because it's a major. I think the willingness -- or how much I want to win a major some day, I think I just want them too much, and it's gotten the best of me in those weeks and I haven't been able to play my best golf in those two days.

I think I played good in Augusta. I just ran out of energy the last two days and I wasn't able to finish it and that's the reason why. It's my first year playing majors, so I really can't tell you. Hopefully I learn something from it and next year I play better.

And how many times I'll hit driver, I really don't know. I don't know. I don't know yet. To be honest I'll probably hit driver as much as I can. I can't tell you how many times. Last time they asked me this question I said six at Colonial and I ended up hitting 12 every day, so I can't tell you.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Jon, thank you very much for joining us and all the best this week.

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