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June 26, 2018
BRIONY CARLYON: Thank you all and a special welcome for Jon Rahm. It's great to have you here Jon, back for the HNA Open de France and here at Le Golf National.
Perhaps if you can take us back to last year, tied 10th finish and maybe give us your thoughts on the course and how happy you are to be back in France.
JON RAHM: Yeah, of course. I mean, obviously last year, it's funny I remember this because it was a very unexpected Top-10. I did not play my best golf but I did fight my way through to have a good finish, which it's that type of course. It's a great golf course but it's very difficult. It's fair, you can think your way around it and if you're smart enough, you can actually get a score but to win you need to play extremely good.
It's probably one of my favourite courses all year, not only European Tour but worldwide. From the first shot to the last it's challenging and it's beautiful and it's not long. Just the beauty of it. It's one of the courses that I enjoy the most. It's not go to the tee, hit driver as hard as you can. It actually makes you think. You need to hit good golf shots and you pretty much need to hit every golf shot there is. So yeah, it's a great week, a great venue, a great event and a great city. Nothing better I can think of.
BRIONY CARLYON: A couple of months ago when you were back in Europe you won The Open de EspaÃƒÂ±a and game was in great shape. Can you give us a sense of where you are at the moment?
JON RAHM: I know my last finish wasn't the best but the U.S. Open is not a course, a tournament, how I would judge my game. To be honest I would not assess it -- it's so difficult you can that play good like I did and miss the cut, so it's not a fair evaluation.
But I am feeling good. Body is feeling good. Swing is feeling good. I haven't felt this good in a while. Besides jet-lag, everything is great. Let's just hope I can deliver and play as good as I feel.
Q. When you walk around here now, is it difficult not to think towards The Ryder Cup in September and there will be a lot more crowds?
JON RAHM: Well, let's hope I'm here. Let's hope.
I haven't played the course yet. I played a couple holes yesterday. I think I was so jet-lagged I didn't have time to think about anything else but just stay awake to be honest. I haven't thought about the Ryder Cup that much yet.
But yeah, there is instances where you think how it's going to be like when it's only 24 players and 50,000 people trying to watch four groups. It makes you wonder what it's going to be like. It really is a perfect course for spectators. What the atmosphere and going to be like and everything -- besides what I've seen on TV, I have no idea what happens so I'm excited for that.
Q. Justin Thomas is playing here this week. He said one of the reasons is to scout the course --
JON RAHM: I would say it's the only reason, is to scout the course.
Q. Is that similar for you?
JON RAHM: Well, I played last year, and I think being such a big event, most of the Europeans that are going to play The Ryder Cup, if not all of them have already played the course and they know the course. It's not scouting.
I mean, it is great -- it is good for you to play this golf course as many times as you can to get comfortable on the course but it's not scouting. It's just a good event that I like to play. If I'm not mistaken, it's one of the oldest in Europe -- it's the oldest, right?
So really, it's just a prestigious event and a top one in my career I would love to win.
Q. You just mentioned Justin Thomas. Were you surprised one or two more Americans didn't come over and do the same kind of scouting mission as well as playing in a great tournament?
JON RAHM: Yeah, I thought there would be more players from the American Team. I thought there were going to be at least four or five. And if it wasn't the players that were already in guaranteed, maybe the people who are on the edge. I thought they were going to come to show their interest, and maybe if they had a good week, they can show that they can compete on this golf course.
But I also understand that there's a lot of good tournaments going on right now on the PGA TOUR and it's hard to change the schedule in that way because they will just come to one week and back to the States and get ready for the British Open. I understand it's tough.
Q. As a Continental European, this is going to be the second time in 14 years that it's actually been on the continent of Europe. How does that feel as a continental European?
JON RAHM: In my case for me and my family, it's only an eight-and-a-half-hour drive from home. Very easy to get here and my family has done it many times, so in that case, it's great.
I think it's great that it's not being played always in the U.K. and I think there's not many courses that are up to the standard to hold The Ryder Cup as good as this one is.
There's not that many courses on such a good venue and there's not that many courses that have the resources or the capacity to have as many people as are going to come; and the practice facilities being good enough and the golf course being good enough. That's probably why it doesn't happen that often. You need a place that's up to Ryder Cup standards.
Q. In terms of what the wider Spanish media, how they treat The Ryder Cup, how big is it? Obviously going to be smaller on the World Cup going on at the moment but how much publicity do you get?
JON RAHM: I think anything is smaller than the World Cup in Spain.
Do you know, I haven't been asked that much. I think the closer we get to it, we'll get a lot more questions. Obviously we might have the chance to have three Spanish players in The Ryder Cup. I don't think that's happened since, I mean, since the 80s, 90s. We know it has not happened in a long time.
Actually there's not many countries besides the U.K. or England that have more than one or two players in it, so it's going to be hopefully great to have three of us. I think once we get closer and we know -- especially if we know that all three of us are going to play, they are probably going to ask us a lot more. Because being that number, they will ask who is going to play with who, who would you like to play with; and the answer is always the same: We are all friends; whoever Thomas decides to put us with.
Q. Spain in the World Cup, how far do you think they will go? Did you watch last night?
JON RAHM: I did watch last night. The thing, you know, I know they have not been playing the best football they can play, and they still haven't lost a match.
So if they can play close to the standard that everybody is used to and everybody is hoping, they can go all the way. They don't need to play perfect. They just need to know what they are capable of and hopefully get it done.
You never know in a World Cup, especially once you get to the knockout rounds. It's just one good game, one good day, one team can be better than the other.
Q. After your fourth place in the Masters, you seemed to -- that was your best finish ever in a major, first time you ever contended. I know Shinnecock was a bit nuts, but was that a disappointment that you didn't carry it on?
JON RAHM: Oh, definitely. You never like to miss a cut, and especially you never like to miss a cut in a major championship, right. But again, it's a U.S. Open.
It's Shinnecock, which already we thought trying. It's already one of the hardest golf courses in the world. And when you set it up with fast greens and firm and the rough we had, and the wind, you know, it's arguably, with Oakmont, the hardest golf course I've ever played.
You don't need to make many mistakes to have a bad score. I mean, I wasn't the only one. There was plenty of people having a rough time. Really, it's a disappointment to not make the cut. But it is what it is. It's golf. It's not like it's never going to happen, right. It's going to happen and it will happen again to a lot of players, and me especially.
Q. You said something cryptic afterwards to the Spanish press about maybe you're better when you get angry on the golf course rather than keeping -- can you just explain that?
JON RAHM: Surprised you got that. No, it's more a lot of times, because of what happened last year in the U.S. Open, I went with the mind-set of I'm going to try to behave perfectly, which means having a smile on my face the whole time and it's hard to go against who you are to be honest.
What I mean to play better is just letting myself feel my emotions, letting the emotions flow through me rather than trying to hold myself. Trying to focus -- where I was more focused on trying to control myself rather than playing golf. That's kind of what I meant when I say that, right. It's not like, I won't get mad and throw clubs and yell because that's not what I mean. It's more about just trying to be myself.
Q. But there was a lot of focus on your temper. Did that sort of make you be somebody that you didn't want to be?
JON RAHM: Was it?
Q. They kept asking you about temper on the course. Did that make you go too far the other way?
JON RAHM: Well, I mean, it is the last time I'm ever going to make the mistake of trying to be somebody who I'm not. It's as simple as that. I mean, again, like I said, within some limits, right, with control but I'm never going to try to be somebody I'm not.
Q. Following on from that, you mentioned a little bit last year that your prep for the majors, you were still sort of learning how to do that. Was the fourth at Augusta a sort of proof that you're sort of getting to grips with that?
JON RAHM: Yeah, I think so. I think every great player I talk to, you know, rather than playing good, I think with how high stress those weeks can be, everybody tells me, find your own thing, your own formula for major championships.
Now, it worked at Augusta. I found something that works at Augusta but unfortunately it's the only major that's in the same place every year, so you have to figure out things. Each course is different, each week is different and each course is going to present different challenges and different stresses, right, so you never know. It's not like you can always do the same thing to play good because otherwise everybody would play good every week.
Q. You mentioned the jet-lag. Have you suffered from some of the strikes?
JON RAHM: No. No. We have not had problems with that. I mean, we flew British Airways. I think it was Air France, right? No, it's a straight flight from Phoenix to London and on to Paris. I didn't have any problems.
Q. A lot of people asking about The Ryder Cup and who in particular, if anyone, you'd like to play with. Have you given that any thought yet?
JON RAHM: Well, the thing is -- obviously the people I've played the most with is the Spanish guys, and I'm very aware that Sergio and Rafa play really well together, as they showed last time. So I think they do not want to break up that pairing.
I also know that as a rookie, I will not be paired with another rookie so I'm probably going to play with a veteran player, which only leaves so many options, right. You have Stenson, Rosey, Rory, Ian Poulter if he plays again, Paul Casey if he plays again. I'll probably be playing with one of those guys rather than Tommy or Tyrrell Hatton, somebody who is playing for the first time.
To be honest they are all great players and great people, and they are all great guys. So I will be happy to play with anybody.
Q. Do you set specific goals for each year, and if so, what are your goals for this season?
JON RAHM: Every year, after Dubai, when the season is over, I set my goals for the year after, and I'd rather -- I try to keep them with my work, but I don't share those things. It's both golf and personal goals. It's not something I like to disclose.
Q. Where does the 18th rank in terms of the hardest closing holes on Tour, and why?
JON RAHM: Why? Because it's extremely difficult. Why? I mean, you have an island green, a really narrow fairway with trouble right and a lot of trouble left. You don't want to hit it in the water but if you hit it right, you have no chance to hit the green because you have extremely thick rough and even more bunkers now. So you have to hit that fairway.
If you get wrong wind and it's into the wind, you have to hit a driver and hit it good to maybe have anywhere close to a 7-iron coming into a green that's that easy. Every single shot is challenging and it's a test.
And where it ranks? I mean, God, it's hard. There's not many finishing holes I've played that are harder than this one. I haven't played it yet, but I know 18 at Carnoustie is extremely tough; 18 at Oakmont is extremely tough. But same reasons as this one, right. Just length and rough and the greens.
There's others, got to be in the top 5 that I've played.
Q. How would you rate the chance of Alex Levy to get a wildcard on The Ryder Cup and what does he need to get in? One victory? Two victories? Maybe more?
JON RAHM: I haven't followed up on the rankings and the points, so I don't know how close he is but I know he's won this year already.
Q. He won in Morocco already.
JON RAHM: He just needs to play a couple of good events. It doesn't take much.
I know the most amount of points are in the Rolex Series; I think if he can play good in those, I don't think he necessarily needs to win. He just needs a couple good finish, and those and the majors and the World Golf Championships if he can play them, he will have a chance.
Being French, having played this course many times, being the base of the French Federation where he was on the team as an amateur; he probably played here so many times, he probably knows it better than anybody. I think he would be a great asset for the team. If he's playing good leading up till the end, if he doesn't make it, I mean, he's a very strong candidate for a pick.
BRIONY CARLYON: Thank you, Jon. Wish you all the best this week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports