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January 31, 2018

Jon Rahm

Scottsdale, Arizona

EMILY TILLO: We would like to welcome Jon Rahm to the interview room here at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Two weeks removed from his second PGA TOUR victory which put him in the No. 2 place in the World Ranking and No. 2 in the FedExCup. So you're back at a place that's near and dear to your heart as an ASU grad. Just talk about what you're looking forward to this week and your expectations overall.

JON RAHM: Not only an ASU grad, but I live a couple miles from here, it's home, it's what I call home base, it's home, it's great to be playing the only one home tournament we get a year in golf. It's always amazing to come back. The atmosphere is incredible, the fans are amazing and after the past year they have been more welcoming than ever, which it's always great to have the positive atmosphere going around. Expectations? There's none right now. I compete to win, so it's not that I expect to win, I just want to win. So I'll do my best for that and hopefully it happens again. If not, I hope to finish as high as possible.

EMILY TILLO: So much of your career has just moved so quickly since graduating. So just talk about adjusting to TOUR life and just being out on the road week in, week out.

JON RAHM: Yeah, that's still things I'm learning about. Just knowing when to peak, the schedule, when to be rested and when not to be rested. I'm changing certain things this year to be a little more rested towards the Majors. I said many times, last year at Augusta on the back nine on Sunday I just collapsed. I was extremely tired, dehydrated, my body couldn't just keep going anymore, hence the triple bogey on 18. Kind of similar situation at the U.S. Open. Very similar situation at the PGA. I was just not, I didn't know how to deal with things because after the first few months it went from just being a bottom player to becoming top-10 in the world. So I had to change my schedule because of that. Hopefully I learned from my mistakes. But life has changed quite a bit in my case and it was quick. Because I played a U.S. Open as an amateur and the next day I was pro, teeing it up at Congressional in my practice round. So I don't think there was an adjustment period. Usually people have weeks, months, I just had to go out and play. Luckily for me I performed outstanding and I got my PGA TOUR card early and started my career. Still the traveling is something you need to get used to. I went from college from 13 events a year and those events are three-day events to playing 28 events worldwide and those events are a whole week. So when I'm playing five times more than I used to play, you need to pick and choose when to rest and learn. I said many times how Mondays will be a traveling day, I won't play golf. Tuesday -- the more and more tournaments I go by, the less and less time I spend at the golf course. I won CareerBuilder without playing two of the golf courses. I played nine holes Nicklaus Course and that's it. Last week Torrey Pines I played the North Course nine holes that's it. This week only nine holes in the pro-am. So as long as you know the golf courses, right now mentality, I think we all have a similar one, to make sure we're rested so you can have a good level of golf all year long.

EMILY TILLO: Questions?

Q. You had a funny quote earlier this season you said the only person I lost to is Superman and you were referring to Dustin. If you were to get that No. 1 ranking, would you be Superman?
JON RAHM: I would be the person who defeated Superman. Obviously I said that as a joke because he won a tournament by eight shots. I mean that's just -- and he almost holed out a driver from 430 yards. Those are things that don't happen often. It doesn't mean that he's unbeatable, because this is golf, nobody's unbeatable. You're going to get beat at some point. But definitely we all know he's a force to be reckoned with. He's a great player and in great form and in great physical form. But, yeah, I mean it wouldn't make me Superman, because like I said, he is, but I would be the guy who defeated Superman.

Q. And then secondly, were you a little surprised how quickly things escalated into Major Championship difficult at Torrey Pines on the weekend?
JON RAHM: Well, in my case it was just a lot to process in a few days. I felt like up until Friday I didn't realize anything and then it all hit me and on the weekend what happened what happened. That's also golf. But besides that, I mean there's nothing to do but to learn from it. Now, every time I go to a tournament, I know that the possibility of becoming No. 1 in the world is there. It was also last week, but I had no idea until Wednesday.

Q. Could you talk about being paired with Phil this week and just your relationship with him over the years and how that's been important for you.
JON RAHM: What am I going to say about Phil Mickelson that you guys don't know? He's arguably one of the greatest guys out here. He's always been a great friend and mentor to me. He's helped me out on everything he's been able to help me out on. Even in college and out of college. And we just have a lot of fun together. I love playing practice rounds with him, I love joking around with him. We all know how much he loves joking around and it's really fun to play with him because I feel like it's just friendly competition, because we all get really relaxed around him. We just have fun and play the golf course. And there's been a trend, like a lot of times I play a practice round with him and then I go to either win or get close to winning that tournament. So hopefully we'll play with him and same thing happens.

Q. How many times have you gotten to come back to Phoenix since leaving ASU and turning pro?

Q. Just like coming back to Phoenix since turning pro.
JON RAHM: I live here.

Q. So whenever you're off?
JON RAHM: So whenever I'm not playing a tournament I'm here. Obviously besides this week, the last two I wasn't here, but every off week I'm here, basically. Unless, like last year, Christmas break I went to Spain. Besides that I try to be here. The few free weeks that we have here.

Q. The Tournament Chairman and the Thunderbirds have said they have launched the fully Hispanic web site for this tournament and going forward. As a player, what does it mean to you to see the progression in that and the demographics in getting that information out there so everybody has access to golf?
JON RAHM: They made a Spanish web site? Nice. Well I think it's great. I think southwestern United States has a high population of Hispanics and I think it's great to give a chance for everybody to be able to go to the web site and understand what's going on. Like they say, it's the greatest show on grass and I think a tournament that's raised over a hundred million for charity, I think it's someone that everybody should know about, it's something everybody should know about, and hopefully it gets the tournament to a bigger demographic with people to hopefully get even more people out here during the week.

Q. Given your Arizona State background, what has the fan reception for you been like in this tournament? What does that really mean to you?
JON RAHM: It's always great. It's always outstanding. Since the higher percentage of fans out here are ASU grads or they're in the school, it really is amazing. Every time I go by, every hole, every single shot, I get cheers from someone from ASU and that's always really helpful, it's not something that we get every single week. So it's great, when you miss a shot, you just have some, you remember how many people you have pulling for you. And when you're playing good it makes it that much more fun. It just escalates everything to a whole level of joy. I almost wish every golf event was like this, but not every golf course is set up to have as many people as this one is.

Q. Speaking of you wanting every golf tournament to be like this. When it comes to 16, why do you think that atmosphere and everything that goes into it hasn't been recreated around the TOUR?
JON RAHM: I think, I think it's the greatest hole there is all year long. It's probably the most fun and the most embarrassing you can feel on a golf hole ever. It's that simple. In my case it's not never, unless there's crazy wind conditions, never going to be more than a 9-iron. The fans can make it pretty embarrassing if you miss a shot, you don't always hit perfect shots. But what they have done with that hole I think is outstanding. I think I'm one of those players who says, like today they have the music on, they can just keep the music going through the whole week. Mainly because I think it will help us players kind of block out the exterior noise going on. I think it would make it a lot more fun for the fans, make it a lot more fun for us to make it a little bit more of, I wouldn't say a party because it's not a party, but I feel like it would be a lot more fun, at least for me. I know a couple other players that are behind the idea, it would be great to have a D.J. all week long. I also understand it would be hard to have a D.J. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. playing the whole time. So I think it would be a great idea, if they can keep developing it like they have over the years, it will be amazing.

Q. Do you think that idea would work at other events around the country?
JON RAHM: It could, but you got to pick and choose the holes. You got to realize, like I said, if you take the grand stands and the people and everything out of the hole, it's just a 160, 170 yard hole, flat, nothing special to it. It's not too hard. You can't go and take each, any par-3 on each and every golf course all year because some par-3s are really hard, if you have a 4-iron with wind and they start booing you, it would be a little harder. But I really feel like every course could have something similar to like this to an atmosphere like that. Make it a lot more fun. I believe at some point in life every golf course will get similar to what this week is.

Q. You were talking to me in Palm Springs about the emphasis that you want to put on the Majors. Obviously if you look at Hall of Famers that's something that stands out on their resume. So we talked about getting to world No. 1. How do you view world No. 1, what value does that have to you for your career?
JON RAHM: Well, to put it in words, becoming No. 1 golfer in the world, it's a goal I've had I've been working for for over 10 years and I'm only 23. So close to half of my life I've been working to get to that point. I think, not only for me, for every golfer, it's extremely important, but if you think about it, at the end of the day it's a reward for good play. No different from No. 2. If you keep playing good golf and you keep improving and your progression is the same, eventually you can get to No. 1. So I can't get too caught up on that because to get there I need to keep playing good tournaments. It's not just going to happen like that. So I try to keep my mindset on playing good golf week-in and week-out and hopefully keep playing good golf like I have been doing up until now.

Q. So following up on the No. 1 business, you said you learned about it on Wednesday that you would become No. 1 or that you could become No. 1. And then you played really well Thursday, Friday. What was, was there something that hit you on Saturday or Friday night or what changed sort of over the last two days? Because I assumed you struggled for the same reason that everybody struggled, which was that the course got really, really difficult.
JON RAHM: Well the course got really tough. Like I said all week, I wasn't hitting it good, I was just scrambling crazy good, I was making up-and-downs from everywhere. The South Course is not a course you really are going to win at if you're not hitting it good. I think it would have been a hard weekend no matter what. But if you add the fact that I was the last PGA TOUR champion, so I was the champion from the week before, I was defending champion, so I could go back-to-back in two different regions, possibly No. 1 in the world. And a lot of things just kept hyping it up and I wasn't, my golf game wasn't at the same level. Not to say that playing the whole tournament and a playoff, that's a stress and emotional level that's going to take a toll on you. And I believe that's what happened. I still had energy and I was still riding that wave up until Friday and on the weekend it kind of, the wave started dying down and I slowed down. The best way to say is it's just golf, it happened, it happens, sometimes you're going to play good, sometimes you're going to play bad and things like that are going to happen. I can't pretend to expect to finish top-10 or Top-5 in every single event I play, because it's not going to happen.

EMILY TILLO: All right, Jon, appreciate it. Thank you.

JON RAHM: Thank you. Thank you.

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