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April 7, 2018

Jon Rahm

Augusta, Georgia

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome Jon Rahm into the interview room. Jon is the current tournament low round, shooting a 65 today. Congratulations. What a great round.
JON RAHM: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: You have been 11‑under par the last 26 holes. Today, you eagled 8 and made five birdies.
You shot 75 on day one, a ten‑shot swing for today. Can you talk us through how you've managed to do that over the last two days?
JON RAHM: Really there was nothing that needed to be changed. I was playing really good, and I knew I was playing good. I went back on my round and I realized every time I missed the fairway, I basically made a bogey.
So I just focused on making sure I hit the fairways and making some putts, and executed that really well yesterday on the back nine, I was keeping it in play, just keep it in the right spot on the fairway, hitting good shots and making putts. Today I kept doing the same thing. Luckily there were shots like today on 1 where I missed the fairway and was able to make a birdie. Besides that, I don't think I was in the rough until 13, and 7 again.
But didn't miss many of the fairways, and the ones I missed was not by much. I always had a shot to the green. Really that was the difference, and then just being able to make the putts.

Q. When you start like you did, do you just feel like there's a good round out there for you?
JON RAHM: I just feel like I have a little bit of a cushion to get through the first seven holes, because, you know, every time I think about the golf course, if you are able to get through the first seven holes around even par, you have a chance to shoot 3‑, 4‑, 5‑under.
To be able to make it 2‑under par with birdie chances on almost every hole that I didn't make, especially one short one on 7, I knew I could have it‑‑ with three more par 5s coming in, I could have a good finish like I did today.
I did feel it just because I was playing so good. I didn't miss many shots out there, and the more the round kept going on, the more comfortable I got.

Q. How did Seve's brilliance here and Sergio's win here perhaps inspire you?
JON RAHM: Well, I feel like the same way Seve's inspired everybody, right? It's just the fact that if you believe that you can do something, you'll be able to accomplish it. He was able to win here as the first non‑American besides Gary Player as a 22‑, 23‑year‑old. He actually had a huge lead here in the final round. He was doing unimaginable things, same way what Tiger did the first time he won here.
And then Sergio doing it, it's something that just shows, you know, I mean, maybe the Spanish character and the Spanish game is built for this place, right? If they have done it before and if Miguel (Angel Jimenez) has had a good history before, before Seve and Ramon Sota had a good history here before, why couldn't I follow that.
I'm just trying to follow the leader, get on the train at some point in my career. But still a lot of golf to be played for that point.

Q. You were 7‑under; Fowler is 7‑under; Fleetwood was 6‑under; McIlroy is 6‑under. What was it like being in the middle of all that, the birdies and the atmosphere out there today? I know the conditions were ideal, but just what was the atmosphere like?
JON RAHM: It was great. I mean, any time you play good golf, the atmosphere is great around the group. But when I'm playing with someone like Matt Kuchar, and the crowd that you get around Augusta National, so respectful, so knowledgeable about the game; it's very nice, because you know they respect every single shot. And any time you just make a putt outside five feet, they applaud it like it's a birdie putt, just because they know how hard it is to make a putt here.
To see all that, I mean, I think we're making it look a little easier than what it is out there, and I believe that maybe someone like me going ahead and shooting a low score, it shows to the people behind that it can be done. Because I believe by looking at the scoreboard, since I teed off before everybody out there, I was 5‑under through ten holes, and, you know, Rory and Fowler, they were three, four, five holes behind me, so it showed that it could be done.
I think the biggest difference was just the greens being a tad bit softer. It's a little more accessible. If you miss the green, the ball won't skip through the water, so you can get more aggressive with chips and putts.
I feel like the humidity made us be just a little more aggressive, and the fact that a couple of us started out strong, I think it helped out a lot.

Q. Do you go back over your rounds, good or bad, looking at what went wrong? Do you do that by habit, looking at your round the following day?
JON RAHM: You want to analyze what went wrong. In my case, I felt like I played so good; I felt like I played to shoot 68 and ended up shooting 75, so I wanted to know why. Because I didn't miss shots. Like I told my caddie the first day I think the first miss‑hit shot that was on the center of the club was on 13, and why I was over par at that point I had realized. So I realized No. 1 I missed the fairway, caught a flyer, went long, couldn't make up‑and‑down. 7, same story. 14, same story. That's when we realized, hey, maybe we don't hit it in the rough, if we're smart, and even if we lay back, we make sure we hit it on the fairway, we're going to be able to hit the green and we're going to have a good number and at least predict the lie, and that's kind of what I focused on.
You know, I did drive it a lot better the last few days, and luckily I was able to make a few more putts on the last 29 holes. But playing so good, and get a bad score, yeah, I do try to think about it.
If I'm playing bad and I shoot bad, I know and I have bad feelings. But when I feel as good as I did and I shoot 75, I try to think what happened.

Q. How did you manage to keep your excitement levels down and not get too mad after the mistake on 13?
JON RAHM: I did get excited. I got real excited, especially after starting birdie, birdie with the eagle on 8. I felt the excitement, and I used it to keep playing good. Maybe it didn't look like it, but I did it really well.
The mistakes, the first one I felt like I missed was 13 and it wasn't my fault realistically. The semi‑rough, the water got between the ball and the club, and the ball just didn't come out like it should with no spin and ended up in the water. I knew the chip‑in was possible, almost made it. Luckily hit the pin at the same time. I knew I could finish good.
The only time I made a little adjustment was on 16 green, when I knew something was a little off, just because I was on a string of pars, I wasn't hitting good putts and started controlling my breathing a little bit. I slowed it down, kind of meditated for about ten seconds while Matt Kuchar was putting, and that got me back and focused and finished the way I did.

Q. 8, the chip‑in, and great up‑and‑down on 13. We don't always hear a lot about your short game. In your mind, is it the best part of your game, and if so, is it due to the way you grew up learning the game?
JON RAHM: It's not the best part of my game. It's gotten better. It's been really good this week. I've been happy with it. It used to be when I was about 12 to 15 years old. Short game was the best part of my game because I could not hit the ball to save my life, which it's completely opposite right now.
I went from being a guy who hit nine greens at most and hit five or six birdies and get up‑and‑down from everywhere and today is the opposite, ball‑striking being the strength of my game. I think this week, my iron play has been really, really good. I've been able to hit my irons really solid, and every time you're hitting it like that, on top of the ball, and the confidence on top of everything else, I know I can hit it on the fairway. I'm not even stressed off the tee because I know I'm not going to have too long of an iron, and even if I do, I'm confident over it.

Q. Of all the courses you play each year, where does Augusta rank in terms of how well it suits your game and your imagination?
JON RAHM: Close to No. 1 to be honest. I try to describe myself as a creative player. I think I'm pretty imaginative, although, since luckily for me, I don't miss many fairways. I don't have to use it very often, right. But I do believe I'm a creative player just because I grew up on a place, tree‑lined with tough greens and I know how to use that, so I know how to get out of trouble.
So a place like this is perfect for someone like me. And then, anyways, it's one of those places that as soon as you come here, just my eye, it suits my eye perfectly. I think out of those 18 holes, 17 suit my eye perfectly and the one that doesn't is 7, and I don't think it suits anybody's eye because it's so difficult.
The atmosphere you get around here is so positive, is so great. You know, it makes me trust every part of my game fully, especially around the greens. I love greens that are as sloped as those are because you can't be‑‑ there's no straight putts and there's no easy break. You have to let your feel and your gut tell you what's going to happen, and that's when I putt my best, when I can use my imagination and use the slopes, I feel more comfortable doing that.

Q. Were you worried about your form coming in here, and what was it that helped restore it? Was it one round, one shot, or just the inspiration of playing here?
JON RAHM: No, I was never worried about my form. The last few weeks, I have been playing good, feeling good. It's just things didn't happen. The one change that we made, it was to change the driver head. We realized, me and Adam, my caddie, realized that I was missing right more often than I should, and I don't typically have my‑‑ my driving swing is not typically bad for a month and a half. Realistically it wasn't as good as it used to be. So just changing the driver head got me going straight again.
My form was good. All I did before this week was just trying it make sure I was going to be fit and I was going to have plenty of energy. I was not going to run out of energy like I did last year. I took care of my diet and worked out and got my rest before this week so I could do the things like I did this week, start bad, and then use the energy to be able to make it back.

Q. This is the first time you've been in serious contention going into a final round of a major. How will you approach tomorrow?
JON RAHM: Well, I mean, by the looks of it, I'm five shots back, so I need to make up a lot of ground. That's the way I look at it. Patrick has four more holes. I birdied two of those and I didn't birdie a par 5. They are all definitely doable. Only you can get in trouble. There's a lot of ground to make up. I feel like how I'm playing tomorrow, I have to keep playing my game and I have to keep doing my thing, and hopefully I get another good start.
If you can get a really good start on that front nine and post a good score again, that back nine can be extremely long for the leaders. We know what can happen on that back nine on Sunday. It's happened many times where a big lead disappears or even get cut down. Hopefully I'm one of those who plays good tomorrow and has a chance.

Q. Would you tell us how you played 8, 16 and 17.
JON RAHM: 8, 16 and 17? The shot by shot?

Q. Yeah, shot by shot.
JON RAHM: Oh, okay. So on 8, I hit about as good a drive as I can hit. I had a second shot‑‑ I do meters, so I'm going to tell you meters ‑‑ 226 meters to the front edge, 261 to the pin, and I hit the driving 4‑iron that I have, the little thicker one, I just tried to hit it to the front edge of the green to give myself a chance, and I ended up on an upslope on a perfect lie. I could not have a better lie to that pin, and ended up hitting the shot and it went in.
16, it was 142 meters with the wind into our face to a little bit to the right. So I hit, usually put my ball really far up in my stance and try to hit high shots. In this case I put it more center and left the shaft forward, compressed the ball with an 9‑iron and tried to flight it down, and I was lucky enough to hit it six feet right of the pin. Only chance you can have an uphill putt there, and it was about a ball right of the hole, and it went right in the center.
17, not the easiest tee shot for me because I like to hit a fade. That wind was pushing the ball a little bit to the right. I hit a perfect tee shot, just ran through the fairway. Lucky for me I caught a good lie in the semi‑rough and that was on an upslope. So I had I think 121 meters, and I hit about as hard as I can hit a gap wedge, try to hit as high as possible, landed ten feet short and just trickled to the hole. From the fairway I could see how the putt was going to break because I saw the ball go by the hole. When I got there, I knew it was a left edge putt, and knew I just had to get it to the hole and got it there perfectly.

Q. Almost all of the majors have been won by someone who had never won a major before in the past years. What encouragement does it give you and why do you suppose that is?
JON RAHM: I don't know. I don't know what it is. Could be just coincidence or it could be a lot of these players have been close for a long time. Justin Thomas played so good last year. Sergio has played good so many times in a major championship. Stenson a couple years ago, has been playing so good in major championships.
I think a lot of those winners have been experienced winners who got another chance and ended up getting it done. But it's not too settling when I see in the top four, the three of us have never won a major‑‑ and one of them‑‑ oh, he made another eagle‑‑ there we go (laughter).
It's kind of hard to I imagine after that. Hopefully I have a chance. It's looking less likely by the second, but, you know, it will be amazing to be a part of it hopefully come Sunday.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Wonderful round of golf.

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