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January 21, 2018

Jon Rahm

La Quinta, California

JACK RYAN: We would like to welcome our new champion, Jon Rahm to the interview room here at the CareerBuilder Challenge. With the win you move to No. 2 in the FedExCup and No. 2 in the official World Golf Ranking rankings. Have you had a chance to let those two numbers sink in for you?

JON RAHM: I believe No. 2 in the FedExCup, yeah, because luckily I was up there last year as well, not No. 2, but I was close. But to think of being No. 2 in the world, it's hard to believe. You dream of doing those things, you want to do them, you believe in yourself, but to get to where only Seve, Ollie and Sergio have gotten, coming out of Spain, and now me, at the age of 23 it's, to me it's beyond belief. It's a huge accomplishment not only for me but for Spain. Obviously there's so many people I wouldn't be able to do this without right now. We got TaylorMade with a new Twist Face technology. If anybody thought it was weird, at least for sure it works, because I had a lot of missed drives that went dead straight today, so I can't lie about that, it was really, really successful. Adidas, Isagenix, we got Rolex, and my newest sponsor, Mercedes, without all this people around me, without all those people in my professional world I wouldn't be able to accomplish it. Lagardere Sports, Steve Loy and Jeff Koski. My girlfriend, Kelley. There's so many people around me that helped me out to get to where I am and I couldn't be happier to have the people that I have around.

JACK RYAN: With the runner-up in your last start and the win here you're off to a great start in the FedExCup. As you look ahead this season you want to get to the FedExCup playoffs, you want to win the TOUR Championship, this is obviously a great start for you.

JON RAHM: Yeah, so far I've only lost against Superman this year. But it's such a long year, we have, what is it, 30 plus events left, Major Championships, World Golf Championships. I would love to stay in this position at least and all the way throughout the year, but things are going to move around and you got to play good golf, but I'm just happy to be where I am this early in the year. I got to experience that last year and I got that feeling of relaxation knowing that I was up there for a long time and same thing this year, to get it done this early, it's an incredible feeling.

JACK RYAN: With today's playoff, four holes, for the first three holes you were trading pars and you were able to break through for the birdie on the last hole. Walk us through the playoff and kind of what was going through your head as you guys were duelling it out.

JON RAHM: Well, I haven't been in a playoff in a really long time, so I kind of tried to stay to myself and not do anything crazy, try to play my golf and try to enjoy it as much as possible. On the first hole I hit probably one of the best -- actually each time I played 18 I hit probably one of the best 3-woods I'm going to hit all year -- but the first one was perfect, down the middle and I had very similar distance to what I had in the regular play. Hit a great shot to nine feet and pretty much the same putt. After Andrew missed it, I was really confident I was going to make that putt. I know the break, I know how it was, and I think that the nerves might have gotten the best of me and pulled it a little bit. Basically now in the next hole I hit the similar tee shot, I just go a little farther right, miss the putt. I just got lucky that Andrew missed the first two that he had and then again on 10. On 10 I had a very similar putt in the regular play that I made. I was just slightly in a different position and it reacted a little differently, that's why I missed it lefts. Once we got back to 18 I was really aware that it was going to be probably the last hole that we were going to play today and I did not want to come back the next day and play it. After a great tee shot, that was a 3-wood that went 280 plus yards. That just doesn't happen often. And after Andrew hit his shot I had a good angle, good lie in the rough, so I decided to take dead aim and hope for the best. Actually that ball flew about five yards longer than I thought. And I was really glad I had the opportunity to putt first, I wanted to putt first because I felt something in me, I saw the break, I knew it was outside the left edge, I just trusted myself, trusted my stroke and hit a perfect -- actually a little bit below perfect speed and caught the lip and went in. I'm sure glad Andrew didn't make the last putt, because I didn't want to come back tomorrow. But again you got to give props and congrats to Andrew. That was outstanding play to play the way he did. To birdie 18 out of the rough, having to birdie to tie and go in a playoff. And then on the playoff hitting right after me every single time and hit the fairway and the green right after me, it's really hard to do, it's not easy, the pressure was on him 80 percent of the time in that playoff. So props to him and congrats and I hope he wins soon this year.

JACK RYAN: Questions, please?

Q. If someone would have told you yesterday that today you wouldn't birdie a par-5 and still win, would you have believed them and also what does it say about you and your game that you were able to get the job done without doing that?
JON RAHM: I could believe you, but if you tell me that on three of those drives I would be in the dead center of the fairway and long, I would have not. I had a 5-iron into 8 -- well 11 it's a little longer -- and then a 4-iron into 16. I would have not believed it. Not only that, if you tell me that I was not going to have a putt closer than 10 feet for birdie, I probably wouldn't believe you either. But I'm really proud to kind of change things from yesterday, right? Yesterday I played par-5s really well, par-3s horribly. Today I played the par-3s outstanding. I had a birdie putt on most of them if not all of them and converted two of them. So you don't need to birdie par-5s, had I played the par-5s the what I way I did the whole week, maybe today would have been a different story, maybe there wouldn't have been a playoff. But I am proud of No. 12, arguably the hardest hole on the golf course, after missing a birdie chip that flew around the edge of the hole somehow, to hit that shot at that moment with that pin and have a tap-in birdie was probably to me the shot of the tournament. So I am proud of my game, I'm hitting the ball good, my ball striking is good, hopefully next week I can follow on Sunday and make a couple birdies on par-5s.

Q. You say you haven't been in a playoff in a while. Have you ever been in a four-hole playoff?
JON RAHM: I don't think so. I don't think I've ever been in a playoff in college. I have been actually, yeah, I have been in years, when I was back in Spain I was actually part of a 10-hole playoff and ended up losing. So things have changed a little bit since then.

Q. Was there no way you could play a fifth hole today?
JON RAHM: I could have, yeah, I definitely could have, but who knows, if I miss that, maybe he would have made it, right? Because he made that putt for birdie.

Q. From a darkness standpoint.
JON RAHM: I think maybe they would try to have us call it off. If it was up to me, the way I was playing, I would rather keep going, because I was feeling really well I knew I was not going to miss any single shot. But again, lucky we don't have to find out.

Q. In a playoff like that, going back and forth how distracting is that and then darkness starts to enter your mind and maybe coming back tomorrow. Is that distracting and how does that play into your thinking?
JON RAHM: To be honest we were playing so fast that it wasn't on my mind. Darkness was not, never on my mind. It was not until after I made it where I realized how dark it got quick. And I know in Palm Springs it gets dark. In a matter of 10, 20 minutes you can't see. So that's when I first realized it, but I really, it really didn't play a part of making me any more nervous or tense than what I was. I really didn't think about it during the playoff. I was just trying to stay focused on what I had to do at the moment.

Q. A year since Torrey, what's the biggest thing you've learned or way you've changed as a player in that year and was there any ways that it helped you today?
JON RAHM: If you're asking as a person, I think I'm improving a little bit when it comes to controlling my emotions. I still have my moments, but it would have been real easy today to get extremely frustrated with the putter -- especially all week -- it wasn't my best putting week by any means, but luckily I was hitting it really well so anything inside of 10 feet I was taking advantage of. But besides that I didn't make many putts. So it have been real easy to get frustrated and lose it. Like today on 12, for example, when I hit that chip that was really close, I just composed myself, kept going and hit, came back making two birdies. So I think that's where I've matured. 18 holes in golf are really long and it's going to go up-and-down, I was going to go maybe up in the lead and then lose it and go back and forth, so I was just patient and trying to hit good shots and I think I'm just a little more mature and in every aspect of the game, a little better than what I was last year.

Q. Is there a reason that you could think of why you've won a couple of times in California? Coincidence or what? The grass or the air or what?
JON RAHM: I love California. It's pretty simple. For obvious reasons I think a lot of golfers share the same thing. The main reason why I don't live in San Diego or in California is taxes, to be honest. I love Phoenix, but San Diego is probably my favorite spot in the world. I go there as much as I can. I went there before I came here, it always makes me play good. And it comes basically through since college. I have a really good record in California in college as well. I played here in Palm Springs three times, I think I finished runner-up and third in two of them. I played in San Diego three tournaments as an amateur, won two of them, finished fifth in the other one, and as a pro won one of them. So I just, I don't know, I get a good vibe in California. I like it. What can I say?

Q. You've just become a major force on PGA TOUR, obviously, how much do you think you'll be committed to the European Tour going forward?
JON RAHM: As much as I can. I've always said that I want to be part of a European Tour. Again, next year I'm going to have the same dilemma I have last year. The reason why I didn't go to Abu Dhabi and the desert TOUR is because I was defending champion at Torrey Pines. Now I won here this year, so same thing next year pretty much it will be. I think, it wouldn't be smart to go back and forth and tire myself out early on the year. But like I said, from summer on I'll try to play a lot more golf in Europe. I have a pretty good record there as well, I like going back to Europe, I like being close to home and I like changing the game of golf, right, going back to European style, which I always enjoy playing. So I do want to support European Tour as much as I can. I can't tell you when or what tournaments, because this changes things again, but I do want to go.

Q. Can you just give some details on the shot on 12, club, what were you trying to do, how it came off.
JON RAHM: Yeah, I believe I forgot how long it was, I think it was 180 -- I forgot the distance -- 82 -- I think it was 92, 192 meters to the pin and I was trying to hit like a little flighted 6-iron, trying to land it about 10 yards short and release back there. If you stand on the tee there's a red hazard stake and a microphone kind of towards the middle of the green. I was aiming there trying to draw it a little bit. And I could have not hit it -- the only way to hit it better is making it. It was a perfect contact, perfect ball flight. It started at the microphone and kept drawing with the green. Landed 16 paces short, which is about 13, 14 yards short of the pin, which I missed my spot by four yards with a 6-iron. And it landed on the spot and trickled towards the pin. Like I said, there's very few times in the game of golf that you visualize a perfect shot and you actually execute it. That was one of them.

Q. You bogeyed it yesterday and didn't hit a tee shot you were happy with. Any thoughts about that or is it a tee shot that you're normally comfortable with or how do you feel about it?
JON RAHM: Well I like to fade the ball, so to hit a right-to-left iron shot is not up my alley, it's not my comfort zone, but yesterday actually I hit a perfect swing I just misunderstood the wind and ended up in a bad spot, but it was one of the best swings I made all tournament. Today I just was able to read the wind properly and trust my stroke. And I just felt like it was time to get aggressive, I was hitting good shots, I missed a couple wedge shots early as well, like on No. 2 and 3. I had a gap wedge in and missed the green. So I decided to get aggressive and my mid iron play has been really strong this week. And to hit that shot, it changed the whole tournament. But there was no thoughts of yesterday. It's a different situation, different wind, different pin, it really wasn't on my mind.

JACK RYAN: All right, thank you, Jon. Congratulations on the victory.

JON RAHM: Thank you, guys.

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