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January 17, 2018

Jon Rahm

La Quinta, California

JACK RYAN: We would like to welcome Jon Rahm to the interview room here at the CareerBuilder Challenge. You're coming off a runner-up at Kapalua, and as you look ahead next week to your first title defense in the PGA TOUR, how are you feeling about your game right now?

JON RAHM: Oh, man, I'm really trying not to think about next week. I'm feeling good. Really, really feeling good. I feel like those five weeks off after Dubai not doing much was really good for my body. Trying to take things real easy, obviously, make sure I'm rested for the year. Feeling good, swing's feeling good, and obviously it's great to be back here. There's some quality golf courses, the golf courses I played in college as an amateur. So it's a special event for me, I've been coming for a long time and I do love Palm Springs, one of my sponsors is Big Horn, I think it's pretty obvious that I've spent some time here, so glad to be back and hopefully I can play a little better than did I last year.

JACK RYAN: You mentioned you like the area, do any of the three courses maybe fit your game better than the others?

JON RAHM: Well all three are outstanding courses and in amazing shape this time of year. This area, the courses are always in really, really good shape, so it's tough to pick one. But just because I'm familiar with it I would say the Nicklaus, just because I played it, I mean, this would be about my ninth round on this golf course, so I know it pretty good. But again, I feel like any other person, when you have a good day, any course is fit for you. It's about making good shots.

JACK RYAN: Last year you won for the first time, finished fifth in the FedExCup. What are you looking to accomplish this season at this stage in your career?

JON RAHM: Hopefully keep it going. I'm going to try to keep doing the same on those regular events and one thing I mentioned many times is that I want to play a little better in the Majors. I don't know why last year things didn't happen in the Major Championships, maybe it was the few weeks a year that I played bad, but hopefully I'll play good on those weeks and maybe see if I can get in contention in one of them. Besides that, try to keep things going, try to keep playing good and hopefully do a better year than I did last year.

JACK RYAN: Open it up for questions, please.

Q. Last year when you came here you were the player that everybody expected to do great things and then you went out and delivered them. How do you, do you feel different as a player from a year ago to today?
JON RAHM: When I cam here last year this I think was my fourth event as a PGA TOUR member. So everything was still kind of new to me, I did feel like a rookie, trying to learn as it went. Right now after a year and after what I've done I just feel a lot more comfortable. I feel like I have what I didn't have then, which is a developed routine of what to do each week. This time last year I was still coming practicing a lot after the round, practicing a lot before the round, putting a lot, so it's something I don't do any more, like right now I come in the morning, warm-up, play my holes and then work on what I need to work on on the golf course and then that's about it. I believe the practice and working on your swing and working your technique and working on things should be done before the tournament, so that's what I've done, I do it before the tournament. You come here you just learn the golf course and that's it.

Q. The one thing that you've learned is just the routine of week-to-week play?
JON RAHM: Yeah, I keep saying it, it's just pacing yourself. In my case I have to play both tours -- well actually I want to play both tours -- you need to pace yourself because when things are getting done on the PGA TOUR, I'm going over to Europe and you have to deal with jet lag as well, being able to not overwork yourself is important. It would be really easy for me to go back out there and start hitting balls and hitting more putts and go home when it's dark, but I don't think that's smart. I would play well maybe the next three or four weeks, but I would then be burned out and I would be really tired towards the Masters and the first WGC. So just keep pacing yourself and having a routine set where you know what you're going to do, you get done, and you get off the golf course, that helps out a lot.

Q. The high school kid playing on the sponsor exemption, Charlie Reiter, said he had recently played with you at Big Horn. What do you remember about him or that round?
JON RAHM: With him? If you guys don't know anything about him, first of all, he's a great guy, great kid. I think he's committed to USC, so I know he's a good student as well. So we had a good time and we played golf -- he hits it far and when I mean far, I mean really far, like he can easily get it past me. And when we played last time together I played really good. He can get it out there and he is from here, so hopefully we might see some good things from him. When they told me he was playing, I thought he was invited to the actual tournament, not playing as -- I know he's playing with Maverick McNealy, so, but he is, he's good, he is really good. He'll have a, hopefully have a couple good rounds here. What can I say? We did play Big Horn and Big Horn, that's enough room to hit balls there like as far as he can. He remind me of Brandon Hagy, they're both similar build, not the biggest guys, they're just fit and have a lot of power, he can get it out there.

Q. Can you talk about your expectations last season coming into this tournament and what beforehand you would have considered a success and what, kind of how different those expectations and how you might gauge your success here are different?
JON RAHM: My expectations are quite similar. I compete to win. So that's what I have in my mind when I go to any tournament and that's what I did back then. That's probably why I was able to succeed so early in my career. Even when I showed up at Congressional in my first pro start, I teed up the first day of the first hole convinced that I could win the golf tournament and that's how I go. If I have something else in my mind, I feel like I can't play my best golf, so I like to do it, I compete to win. It's one thing to expect of yourself, maybe I didn't expect to play the whole year the way I did, maybe I didn't expect to accomplish things as early as I did, which is true, but when I tee it up on the first tee, I expect really high things of myself and I compete to win.

Q. I know you played several practice rounds with Phil Mickelson, but when were you out there today with him what kinds of things did you notice and what do you take away from him?
JON RAHM: Well, he's an extremely good player, I think we all know that. As shaky as his driving might be, he's an outstanding playing with anything else. It's just fun to play with him. You learn things from him and I have a good time when I play practice rounds with him because we joke around together a lot. And for me it's fun to hear, now that he's with Tim, and we are all really close, it, to me, is really fun to hear how they talk to each other, because Tim being my coach at ASU, I don't need much. Okay, it's like 120, this shot, right. And you have Phil, it's like, oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking and I'm like, I'm lost. I'm like, God, if I do that thought process, I could not hit the golf shot. And it's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail oriented. He gets there and I'm like, oh, it's a foot right. And he goes, okay, he reads the green, like, oh, it's 1.8 degrees of slope here and this and that. And I'm there listening and I'm like, man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. For me to listen to all that is really fun. And then you hear me and Adam talk, 180, a little breeze into, okay, hard six. Okay, hard six. And it's just opposite extremes completely. It's just fun to hear it, to hear what he does. But I tried to learn as much as I can from that guy, I always like to try to pick his brain a little bit, again, great guy to be out there with.

Q. I noticed some of that going back and forth between Tim and Phil, but you mentioned how detailed he is, is there anybody kind of in your generation, these younger 20 something year olds that have that much focus and attention to those details or does it come over time like Phil's been playing for so long?
JON RAHM: No, there's one guy I think we all know is pretty detailed oriented and that's Bryson. He actually needs to be, he's got his own system and he needs to be very detail oriented. In my case I never played like that, too, so I don't think there's many guys out there that are like that, that meticulous. I know Justin Rose is very much like that. Bryson and Phil are very much like that, but I don't think there's that many that are that exact like he is on every single shot that they have. There's some people that might use the slopes on the greens for to for Aimpoint and the degrees and all that, but I don't think anybody is as exact as he may be. He also practices a lot and is very precise in what he does. So like him there's not many.

Q. Do you feel like you're the fan favorite when you're out there? When you were at Hawaii, do you feel like you're the guy?
JON RAHM: Well I would certainly hope so. But I'm also realistic about it. I know I've gotten to a high rank in the world real quick and since I've only been a pro for a year, I feel like it has to be not many people that follow my game yet, I feel like longevity gives you a lot of fans out there. But I like to feel like I'm a favorite, hopefully it's nice to feel like that, otherwise it would be pretty sad to tee it up knowing that nobody's supporting you. The one thing I know for sure is like if even if this not many supporters out here in one week I know I have a whole country in Spain hoping the best for me, so at least I have that in the back of my mind. But at the end, you need to support yourself, you need to believe in yourself.

Q. Do you feel a little bit more here because it's kind of a little bit of a home course or home area for you?
JON RAHM: Definitely the southwest United States is good for me, I have spent a lot of time here, so I do get a lot of support here, I do get a lot of support in San Diego, and I do get outstanding support in Phoenix. There's other places where I get a lot of support, too, Colonial was great week for me, I got good history there and I got a lot of good support. So I could go thinking every tournament I've played in, but I've been blessed to have a lot of fans out there and hopefully keep it going and hopefully I can keep delivering for them.

Q. You talked about playing two tours, a lot of the European players don't play as much on the West Coast, they play Abu Dhabi or Dubai and yet you're here this week, you're in San Diego next week. Is it just the southwest is a comfortable place for you to be?
JON RAHM: Well, yeah, I mean I've been living in this area for five years and most of the college tournaments we played was around here, so exactly, we played here -- we played the Norman course as well -- I'm just familiar with this type of golf course. This is very similar to Phoenix. Very similar golf. And that's basically what I've been playing for the last few years. I do love California, all those golf courses play very similar to what I do back home, which is soft, humid, sea level, cold type of weather. So that's why I love Pebble, I do love Torrey, and I'm sure I will love Riviera as well. It's just a stretch of golf tournaments that's good for me. They're probably be a year in the future where I do go to Dubai and maybe not play those, but not yet, this is, in my case, this is way too much fun to give up.

JACK RYAN: All right, thank you, Jon. Best of luck this week.

JON RAHM: Thank you guys.

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