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September 26, 2018

Jon Rahm

Guyancourt, France

STEVE TODD: Jon, thank you for joining us, a warm welcome to your first Ryder Cup. Give us your thoughts on how special it has been, being part of that team room this week so far.

JON RAHM: Well, as a rookie, I don't know what the other guys have said. It's hard to explain. It's a lot of emotions running through me right now, but obviously it's an incredible sense of accomplishment just to be here; a great sense of pride and humility at the same time because we know how much it takes to be in this situation, and I couldn't be any happier to be sharing this with the teammates that I have.

I'm really happy that a lot of those people that were let's say peers in the game of golf and I didn't get to know very well beforehand, I'm getting to know very well right now and are becoming really good friends. Even though I'm still a young adult, I feel -- I'm still 23, I feel like a little kid again. It's a great feeling.

STEVE TODD: You've played the last two editions of The Open de France here. Just give us your thoughts on the course and how useful an exercise that has been playing in those two.

JON RAHM: The last two years I've played the golf course in different conditions. I've played in both predominant winds on the golf course, so I've seen it both ways. Last year it was rainy, it was cold, it was windy, so the course was playing one way; and this year it was a little warmer, but still the other way and drier, so I was able to play it completely different. I can say I've played the course both ways.

Still, magnificent track. Magnificent golf course. Great design. It's in as good of shape as a golf course can be. It's always great when you get to play Le Golf National.

Q. Thomas Bjørn has said that Sergio Garcia was picked as much for his influence in the team room as on the course. What's he been like in the team room, and how exciting would it be to be paired with him in another all-Spanish partnership that's been so frequent in The Ryder Cup?
JON RAHM: Well, I've gotten to know Sergio pretty well outside The Ryder Cup, and I can say he gets -- he loves the event. He knows what it is like and he knows how well he performs in this event, and he does act in a great way. His demeanour, his energy is so positive and so energetic, it's very contagious. I'm very much the same way when I'm off the golf course, and it's great to be around.

It's so much fun to be around people like him at an event like this just because he gets everybody very energetic and very, very much the same way he is. It helps everybody get together and bring everybody together. I mean, he is a special man. He is a great golfer, and that's one of the main reasons why he's here.

Q. With the five rookies on the team, how much have you bonded with those guys this week? Obviously you know all of them before, but do you think it could be an advantage or disadvantage to have so many rookies on the team? As a last follow, what's your anticipation of the first tee on Friday if you're out there?
JON RAHM: When it comes to the rookies, what can I say, two of those are Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren, two of the best players in the world the last two years, Race to Dubai champion, Alex has won it seems like ten times the last three years. They have both won The French Open.

And Tyrrell Hatton, somebody who has been in great form the last two years. Myself, I've had great performances here, and Thorbjørn Olesen, who has won pretty much every year the last few years. I mean, it's a pretty good time to have five rookies, I would say.

I've gotten to know them pretty well. Alex is a little bit quieter, Alex and Thorbjørn are both a little bit quieter, quieter guys, but while you're in the team room, you can't hide. It's great to know everybody and how everybody thinks.

I've played with Tommy quite a bit the last few years and played with Tyrrell, as well. Again, like I said, it's a great feeling to have all those people become friends. It's been really fun and everybody's been nothing but, you know, a complete delight. I can't wait to get The Ryder Cup started, to be honest, and I can't explain what that first tee is going to be like.

The only time I've seen stands this big is in a football stadium, and the closest I guess to that is 16th at TPC Scottsdale, which is the closest sense I'm going to have since I live in Scottsdale and I'm ASU graduate, so I do have some of the gallery pulling for me on that hole, but not anything like this.

I've had people that have experienced great things in golf tell me that a final tee time in a major, it's a 2 out of 10 compared to the first tee on a Ryder Cup. Haven't been in a last tee time in a major yet, so I can't tell you what that's going to be like.

Q. I know you often listen to rap music in the minutes before you get on the first tee to get pumped up for it. Will the earphones be in this week?
JON RAHM: The main reason why I do, is I listen to music when I first putt and right before going to the tee. I do it when I first start putting just so I can get into my own world a little bit because it's very easy to get caught up in what's going on around you, especially in a week like this, and that's why you do it.

And then beforehand, again, pretty much the same reason. Right before teeing off, especially on a week like this, it's easy to get caught up looking at the stands and the people and what's going on and forget what you're here for in the first place. That's why I put the headphones on. It kind of helps me get within myself and be able to get physically and mentally ready for the match.

Q. What's the playlist this week?
JON RAHM: I've been listening a lot to Eminem's new album. I can tell you that much. It's usually pretty standard. It's about four or five songs that I listen while I'm putting before and after.

I always do it right before I get to the putting green, so it all depends on the day.

Q. Rory was just in here saying he was pleasantly surprised at the input you've already had to the team in your rookie year. What kind of things have you been saying to inspire everyone, given the fact that you haven't yet teed it up in a Ryder Cup?
JON RAHM: I'm just being myself. I don't know if I've said any memorable quotes yet. I can't think of anything. Again, I'm just trying to be myself and enjoy it as much as possible.

Really, you're going to have to ask other players to see what I've said, because I can't remember.

Q. Obviously you're a fiery character and a guy that likes to be emotional out there. Can you run me through the pros and cons of potentially being paired with someone like you in that regard, and someone like Alex or Justin, who is a bit more even-keeled?
JON RAHM: All I can say is that if they are getting paired with me, it's because they were very aware of how I am on the golf course, and because they want to play with somebody like that. That's all I can say.

I can play with anybody. You know, I've played -- representing Spain, I've played with many different players, energetic players, calm players, people that are like me, people that are different from me and I've had success with all of them. I'm a pretty easygoing person. Once we get to the golf course, especially on fourball and foursomes, when you're playing with a partner, it's a little bit different than playing singles.

So I think we all look at it a little bit differently. It's like two players becoming one, so I think we feed off the best of each other. So it will help me, if I'm playing with somebody like Justin Rose, it will help me calm down a little bit and my emotion will maybe help pump him up a little bit. So I think it benefits both ways.

Q. What Rory was referring to specifically was your contribution to the WhatsApp group. Could you give us a flavour of the sort of tone you use when you contribute to the WhatsApp group?
JON RAHM: My contribution to the WhatsApp group?

Q. That's what he referred to.
JON RAHM: See, we have funny moments. Yesterday, for example, after the round, after Rory drove it past me 50 yards on pretty much every hole, I was on the physio table after the round with needles in me. Because of jet-lag, I was completely asleep. So Rory, he decided it was a perfect time to take a picture in my underwear and post it on the chat and say I couldn't handle him hitting it past me every single drive. Obviously you have to protect yourself and respond to something like that and say whatever comes to mind. (Laughter).

In my case, I like sarcastic humor a lot. I think I enjoy it a lot. Hopefully I haven't hurt anybody on the team. I think we all understand that. To be honest, we're just trying to -- everybody make fun of each other. If you think you've gotten away so far, you're not going to. Everybody is going to get something at some point, and that's what we do.

At first I was a little bit hesitant on what to say. I didn't want to, like I said -- I didn't want to piss off anybody, and once I realised what the tone was going to be, within 30 seconds, here we go, somebody was getting -- okay, it's pretty much freewheel to say what you want to anybody, which is obviously a great thing because we all have a lot of fun.

Q. In terms of team sport and what background do you have in team sport, and is that something you really enjoy?
JON RAHM: I love team sports. As much as I love -- because we're in an individual sport; as much as I enjoy winning individually, there's not a greater feeling than winning as a team. I've been in the national team in Spain since I was 14 years old. I grew up playing football and many other team sports. I did team canoeing, as well, many different things.

Also being in the team in the United States for four years. It's great when a team gets together for one same goal, one same purpose, and it gets accomplished. Whether you win or lose, you win or lose as a team, and it's always easier to deal with it whether you win or lose. It's a lot more fun either way.

So yeah, I wish we had more team events in golf, but again, if we had more, The Ryder Cup maybe wouldn't be what it is right now, so I'm certainly glad it is what it is.

Q. You said a few minutes ago this is a magnificent track, great design. Could you just explain what do you mean by great design? Can you expand on that?
JON RAHM: Yeah. Well, playing on the PGA TOUR a lot, a lot of times the game of golf on the PGA TOUR is somewhat repetitive, where it's see who can hit the longest drive, see who can hit it the highest on the green, you know, to stop it on a very small shelf and very firm, fast greens, and if you miss the green, just give me the lob-wedge, and the lob-wedge again, the lob-wedge again and the flop shot, see how high you can hit it in every single sense.

I come back to Europe and see all the more traditional golf courses. You come here, and you start on the first few holes, you see No. 1, it's a short hole. It's just a lay-up off the tee. It's arguably the widest fairway off the tee. And still as tense as can be. Still tenser than most of the tee shots we play on The European -- on the PGA TOUR. A very narrow second shot, even if you have just a wedge. Then you go to the second hole. I mean, every single shot you have out here at Le Golf National is tense. There's not one relaxed moment. It doesn't give you much room for error. You need to think about it. You need to think about what you're doing, the type of shot, the consequences.

In my mind, it's what the game of golf should be like. It's a lot more enjoyable. It's a lot of fun if you play good. It's a fight. Without being links golf, is the closest you could get to links golf.

Q. I wouldn't expect you to give away any pairings, secrets, or anything like that. But hypothetically, if you were to play with Rory, why would that be a good possible pairing? And if so, maybe would you be happy to tee off first on Friday morning?
JON RAHM: If I were to play with Rory, we've played a lot together, I think we know each other's game very well and we have a very similar game plan in mind.

I think the one thing that you can say about both of us is that we are both fearless. We really complement each other very well. But again, I could play with any of the other 11 guys, I have equally as good a time as I would with Rory.

I think it all goes up to, being the history of The Ryder Cup, I will be paired with an experienced player. They are not going to put two rookies up on Friday morning. So I will be playing with somebody, either Stenson, Sergio, Rory, Rosey, Poulter, Fran, somebody who knows what's going on and who can most likely keep me under control on a Friday morning.

I feel like I'm going to have electricity coming out of me, so it's a little bit -- you can imagine I might tee off with somebody who is a little more calm than me, which is not hard to do.

But again, I can play with anybody, but I believe I will play with somebody experienced.

Q. Is it a dream of yours to play in your first Ryder Cup with Sergio? Do you see yourself gaining confidence and inspiration from him the way he did years ago with Seve?
JON RAHM: You know, it's always been a dream of mine to share the stage with Sergio. And just because he's been in my shoes. He played The Ryder Cup when he was 18, 19 years old, so he was even younger than I was, and I feel at this point I'm the youngest on the team by a couple years.

I think he understands me as a fellow Spaniard, as both fiery players, I think he understands me more than anybody else. Whether we play together or not, he's going to be able to help me out most out of anybody in the world. I'm really looking forward to this week, spending it with him.

Q. Obviously at The Ryder Cup, rookies tend to fade to the background while the veterans lead. As the youngest player on the team, you're a gregarious fellow. Why have you felt a desire to be so active in some of the discussions and kind of be a leader by default?
JON RAHM: Well, I haven't made any decisions or anything like that. One of the things Thomas said is be yourself. So I'm taking that as serious as I can, and I'm a very honest, up-front person. I don't lie. Whatever is in my mind, I'm going to say. That's what he said, so that's what I'm doing.

I think these situations work best when everybody says what's in their mind. You avoid confusions. If somebody is going to get upset, you get upset before, rather than after, the fact. It's the best way to get everything done and everything figured out beforehand. So why not? I'm not a person who lies either way, so I'm not going to change that now.

STEVE TODD: Thank you for joining us. Good luck this week.

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