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November 14, 2018

Jon Rahm

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much for joining us. You arrived here last year as a debutante, as the Rookie of the Year, and now you return to the DP World Tour Championship as the defending champion.

How does it feel to be back?

JON RAHM: It feels good. Hard to improve on what I did last year.

It feels great. You know, I was able to be defending champion for three events this year. In Torrey, I played great the first two days. I was in the final group. I didn't play great on the weekend.

In Ireland, I was doing okay. I was doing good until that second hole, a triple-bogey doesn't help, but I still battled back and almost got myself into the playoff.

So hopefully, I've gotten close and maybe this progression continues and I'm able to defend this week.

NEIL AHERN: You played six Rolex Series Events and two wins, and you've finished in the Top 15 in all of them. What is it about these big European Tour events that you enjoy so much?

JON RAHM: I think I just happened to play good in all of them. For the most part, when I think about the year, I played those events and I played so I peak in those events, the ones that matter to me.

Clearly I'm doing something right, if I finished Top 15 in all of them and won twice, so hopefully I can keep that going this week and have a chance to win again on Sunday.

Q. Would you rate your year, please, out of 10?
JON RAHM: Well, I'm not going to do it based on last year because last year was a 10 out of 10. For I think what I set it out to be and how hard it was to live up to expectation, I'll give it a 7 1/2 out of ten.

Q. Can you give us two things that you have learnt this year?
JON RAHM: Two things that I've learned? There's a lot of things that I've learned. A lot that I'm going to keep to myself.

You know, again, the importance of organising the year before the starts and organising everything, to be able to be rested and peak at the right moments, it's hard to give you just two things. It's very, very difficult.

Q. Why is it difficult?
JON RAHM: Because there's so many. There's so many things I learned about myself this year. This is what I'm going to say is a year for a lot of personal growth. It was a great year to get engaged and start my life. I would say in personal and family matter way, it was such a great year; I'll give it a 10 out of 10, and that's what I was setting myself for this year.

Winning two events, I'm still having a great year. I learned a lot of things that I don't want to talk about, that I would never talk about in public. That's between me, my fiancée and my family. But golf-wise, it's a long year. I played four events in a row earlier in the year, and then in the middle didn't play my best, so maybe looking to change that.

Q. I was just wondering, looking at your press conference from Sunday last year, when you said it didn't feel good to mathematically have no chance to really win The Race to Dubai, even though obviously you won the tournament and you were hoping to try and add some more events. That hasn't actually transpired. You've actually played less. Is that just the difficulty of the schedule? Were you hoping to play more?
JON RAHM: Well, it's the difficulty of trying to, again, because I'm based in the States. I started on the PGA TOUR, so it's difficult to give up events to come here. Every time if I want to play events here, I would want to come for a couple weeks. It's just too much to come back and forth. It's hard for me.

Obviously if I was based in Europe, I would play a lot more. Again, with the PGA TOUR schedule changing, maybe it opens it up to ply more.

Q. I'm sure you can afford a base in Europe.
JON RAHM: I could, but again, I don't spend enough time to buy a place. I could but --

Q. Two Tiger-related questions. First of all, will you be watching the Match next Friday? Will you be paying to watch it?
JON RAHM: I'll be watching. I'm close to Vegas it's a four-and-a-half-hour drive, so I'm still deciding if I'm going to go see it in person or not, because I might make a joke with Phil and just tell him, I don't want to pay the Pay-Per-View.

But I'll be interested in watching and see how it is. I don't know how it will be -- and maybe in the future I find myself in one of those, so hopefully it's a success.

Q. And the second part. Just what's your favourite memory from playing and beating Tiger at Le Golf National?
JON RAHM: The last putt. I think the whole experience is my favourite thing. I can't point out one moment, since I found out I was playing against him until it was over, the whole series of events and what I had to do to get ready and mentally ready and play good golf. And I was so proud of myself the way I conducted and the way I acted and the way I kept myself very balanced throughout the whole round.

At end of the day it didn't bother me, even the putt on 16, I didn't let it affect anything within me. So knowing me and how passionate I am about the game of golf and how usually -- if I was up and down that day, with the magnitude of things and how much bigger everything was, the week; I am so proud of the way I acted and the way I worked it in 12 hours to be able to turn it around.

I can't pick one moment. If I have to say the most special one is right before I stood up to the putt, walking towards it. Somebody in the crowd thought it was a great moment to yell, just at the top of their lungs, "Do it for Seve." So, you know, it's not that I did it for him, but to do it in the middle of the process and three seconds be ready.

Q. I thought you were going to say somebody yelled out, "It breaks three inches from the right," or something like that.
JON RAHM: No, if anybody said anything like that, I didn't hear it, honestly.

Q. And when did you actually find out you were playing Tiger, on the Saturday night? Did Thomas tell you? Did you see the draw?
JON RAHM: Saturday night I was the only player left in the team room at the golf course, with Graeme McDowell and I think Robert Karlsson was there, as well.

And Thomas Björn came in and handed me the pairings, I know I was fourth and I start looking from the top down and I see, okay, Rory, Justin Thomas; Paul Casey, Brooks; Rosey against Webb. And me, and I see a "T" and a "W" and I was like, great. Great. I'm playing the guy who just won an event, his 80th PGA TOUR event, he's 0-3, he really wants to win; and I'm not playing my best golf and he's also my idol, never played with him, never played against him.

And this course, his entire history, the way he hits the ball, it should fit him. He doesn't have to hit drivers. All he needs to do is keep it in the fairway. He's the best iron player there is and he's a great putter.

If it's my game, I like to hit driver. It's narrow holes. I don't hit many drivers, and I'm not as good a putter as he is, and I'm going to have to do something very well to beat him.

Yeah, that was the first 20 thoughts within the first minute and a half. I'm like, great, this is going to be fun.

Q. Tommy was in here yesterday and said that players often learn more away from the course in The Ryder Cup than they do on the course. Is there any specific moment off the course that you'll remember for the rest of your life, specific one?
JON RAHM: Off the course? Yeah, I think after losing the first morning match on Friday, everybody went back out to play and I stayed -- I was mad. I was very mad because I didn't play good on the back nine. I was eating with Chema, and he talked to me, trying to help me out, and he got me through.

And I told him, I'm like, "I can't help to think that I left Rosey down, I let the team down and I let Thomas down."

And he looked at me with a very Spanish angry face and he was like, "You don't ever think that again." Started yelling at me for about ten minutes. And I'm like, okay.

Basically the one thing he made me realise, win or lose, you're not letting anybody down. It's golf; you win points, you lose points. He started sharing stories about him and Seve until he calmed me down.

And then I learnt from my role was for the afternoon, which is basically act like I'm playing on the golf course and help the groups and get the crowds going and make them energetic and make sure people were hearing all the positive chants and try to have fun with it. So just to be able to get myself to make sure that it was like 12 of us were playing, even if only eight of them were hitting shots.

Q. Can you just explain what it is about Justin Rose's game that you like so much?
JON RAHM: This could be a long answer.

I'll simplify it. He's a world-class driver of the ball, he's a world-class iron player, he has a world-class short game, he has a world-class putting game. What can I say about his game that's not good?

And then I think the best thing that he knows, and him and Fooch know, is they really know what they are good at. He always has a plan and he executes the plan. He makes very few mistakes, very, very few mistakes. There's always going to be three, four, five on there, and he's always going to be in with a chance on Sunday. It feels like he's been there every single week.

There's no weakness, really. Obviously he's a strong player. How many times has he won since China last year? He won China, Turkey, he won Colonial, he won Turkey again. I mean, he's won four, five, six events almost in a year. There's not many players that get to do that both ways, winning the FedExCup, playing the way he played on The Ryder Cup. It's a heck of a year.

It's a lot to look forward to, becoming No. 1 in the world and accomplishing what he's accomplished, there's really no weakness. Hopefully he can keep it going.

NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much, Jon. Have a great week.

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