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March 16, 2019

Jon Rahm

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

MARK WILLIAMS: We would like to welcome Jon Rahm to the interview room here at the 2019 PLAYERS Championship. After the third round of the 2019 PLAYERS Championship, Jon, you're in with a 64 today, one shy of the tournament course record. You're in at 15-under through 54 in really good shape. So just talk about the day a little bit. It looks like you had a really good stretch through the middle of the round particularly.

JON RAHM: Yeah, I had a good stretch from 1 to 18 pretty much today. What to say? I don't know what my scoring average has been on Saturday the last two years, but I think I've beat it by quite a bit. It was a great day. Didn't miss many shots out there. The only bogey today I made was at 6, and it was after a good shot that landed a foot from the hole. So it was one of those days. Really, really confident with my irons. Every time I stepped up I thought I was going to have -- I felt like I was going to hit a good shot, and I think the one key that me and Adam did well today is just being decisive. Every time we got to a shot, we picked the wind, sticked with one wind. We know it swirls, so just listen to the forecast, remember what it did and what it was supposed to do and just pick a shot and stick to it.

I was very committed on each shot, and it worked out and it showed especially on the back nine once things got a little tense. We got very, very committed to each shot and he helped get away and get focused on the moment and I ended up hitting a lot of them close.

MARK WILLIAMS: Start with questions, please.

Q. Can you recall a tournament where you got super hot like you did today and just kept going and kept it going for the ensuing round and just ran away from everybody?
JON RAHM: Yeah, actually the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas was very similar to this, both the Friday round and the Sunday round. It was two days where I hit it really, really well tee to green, very similar idea, especially with there the wind's a little bit more predictable, there's no trees. But stick to a wind, stick to a shot and just make sure you're committed to the shot, and it paid off then and it paid off today, and hopefully if the weather's not too bad tomorrow, I can keep doing the same thing.

Q. You alluded to it earlier, in terms of the difference in the Saturdays from last year to this year. How much of it is you just maturing and learning to rein in your emotions and how much of it is the switch from May to March?
JON RAHM: I think me. About eight months ago, maybe not that long, wouldn't have finished at 8-under. I think I would have lost my patience on 14 because I actually hit a good shot and ended up way long with that really difficult up-and-down. And then a good tee shot on 15 and a good second shot and it got the worst out of both things. Ended up in the pine straw and then ended up short. I think I would have been a little more frustrated and I might have made both pars, but I don't think I would have been as relaxed as I was today, and I think that's what enabled the whole day, right.

Even the bogey on 6 didn't affect me that much, and I think most of it allowed me to shoot this low today and shoot low -- every single day this week was that, right. I definitely feel a difference in myself, and it's been great to feel that pride of all the work that I've done to get to this point, so hopefully I can keep doing it tomorrow.

And then the switch to March, it makes a difference, just because I think the fairways hold up a little bit more. The greens are not as bouncy even though they're getting firm. It's just a little bit easier for me to read the grain on the chips and understand what it's going to do, so I'm just a little bit more comfortable. The course playing a little longer, it just plays to my strengths, especially if I'm hitting as good as I am with the irons.

Q. As a follow-up, is there any single factor that you attribute your growth from just a reining-in-the-emotions standpoint over the past year?
JON RAHM: Like I said, last year was -- I've said it many times, it was a year of personal growth rather than golf game. It's been a work in progress of many years to get to this point, and it's hard to do when you're playing highly competitive golf. It's very hard to do. So I can't attribute it to one thing because I worked on many many things slowly, and this is what I called earlier a midterm of hopefully it's a very good final project.

Q. You had a lot of pinpoint iron shots; what one stood out the most to you?
JON RAHM: It's hard to pick one from today.

Q. How about 11?
JON RAHM: Yeah, well, I mean it's 11, but then you can't bypass 17 honestly, and the tee shot on 18 and the second shot on 18 was much better than it probably ended up being. But, yeah, 17 is one of those shots. Not 17, 11 was one of those shots that you visualize in your mind and one of the few times in your life that it's going to come out exactly how you see it and that's kind of how it happened. So 11 was a good one, definitely.

Q. What was the club?
JON RAHM: 4-iron.

Q. Did you know you were putting to tie the course record? Did you have any sense that that was --
JON RAHM: On 18?

Q. Yeah.
JON RAHM: Oh, God, no, I didn't realize. Like when I got to scoring tent, Johnny told me, hey, 8-under, Jon, and I was like -- I don't know, does that add up to 15 total? That's what I think it is. I was so focused on each shot, I wasn't thinking on the course record.

Q. It looks right now the way things stand that you and Rory would be going out tomorrow. Just wonder what that pairing is like for you, and he's been in -- this might be the 10th final pairing group for him that he's been in in a stretch where he's been really confident. Can you talk a little bit about how dangerous he can be, as well?
JON RAHM: Well, it's Rory McIlroy. I mean he was No. 1 in the world at the age of 22, and he's a four-time major champion, so he definitely knows how to get the job done. He hasn't done it since Arnold Palmer last year, so I know he's going to come out wanting to do it, especially being THE PLAYERS Championship, an event where you need to play really good. Everything in your game needs to be absolutely perfect to be able to win it.

So I know he's going to come out guns blazing, and we all know what Rory's capable of, so hopefully I can just stick to my game and kind of forget that he's there, because he hits monster drives and monster iron shots and incredible chip shots, so everything he does is just so good-looking that and I need to just forget about it and stick to my golf.

But I'm expecting a lot of people in front of us tomorrow to post a score, and I'm expecting people closer to us, if I'm on the lead or not, to start off hot tomorrow like it happens pretty much every tournament we play, so hopefully I'm one of those who starts hot as well.

Q. You've won a handful of really good tournaments around the world, but how anxious are you to break through and take one of this magnitude?
JON RAHM: This would be absolutely amazing. The last two years I played okay golf. I was able to post scores but I didn't see myself -- I wouldn't say that next year I was going to win this event. Like last year I wouldn't have said that just because I thought that the golf, it was a golf course I need to learn, I needed to play really good at, and this change to March kind of benefits me a little bit and I've been a lot more comfortable off the tee especially and some iron shots, as well.

So it would be absolutely amazing to name yourself a PLAYERS champion. It's definitely one of those events that they consider to get you in the Hall of Fame. It's career defining. There's very few select players that get to win here and only a very few number that have gotten to do it more than once, so it shows that to win out here you need to play really, really good golf, so it would be an incredible win if I get to do it.

Q. You're a very ambitious guy. You've been open about how you want to make your mark in golf history, so when you get to the majors or get to THE PLAYERS, how do you not get too antsy and too ahead of yourself and push too hard?
JON RAHM: Oh, I have before. I mean it's happened and you learn from your mistakes, it's as simple as that. And what I need to remember remind myself when I get to the first tee the first day is that it's 72 holes, you can't win the major the first two or three days, but you can for sure lose it. So remember there's lots of holes to be played and just stick to my own game and that's what I've been doing the last few times. That's why I played better last year in a couple of majors and I've been playing better now, just focusing more on myself rather than the exterior and just do the best that I can play.

Q. Before that 4-iron at 11, can you remember when the last shot you hit where you hit it exactly as you visualized it when and where that was.
JON RAHM: It happens so rarely that -- God.

Q. Like give us an idea how rare.
JON RAHM: It's rare, because even tournament, like shots that in tournaments that I've won I can't think of it that it happens exactly how you see it, right? Not very often, honestly. I think the closest that it gets was my second shot on 16 at the Bahamas. I think that would be the closest that it gets to that point that I can remember.

Q. What did you learn from the Ryder Cup experience of beating Tiger in singles and how do you think that can help you tomorrow?
JON RAHM: I mean the Ryder Cup is such a different monster. You only have one player to worry about. Out here besides myself I have a lot of people to worry about, so it's, it's a very different feeling. But the one thing I learned from the Ryder Cup that I will apply tomorrow is on that Ryder Cup I went to the first tee just picturing that I had a match against myself. It was the first time I was playing Tiger, one of my idols looking up to him, so it was too easy for me to get caught up in looking at everything he was doing; as easy as it is to get caught up on seeing how well Rory hits it and what he's been doing, right? So just focus on myself, keep focusing on me and my emotions and what I'm feeling and what I have to do at each moment.

Q. You go 9-under par or thereabouts on the par-5s, how big of an advantage is that for you going into tomorrow and if you would have filter everything down to one important point of focus what would that be to bring it home tomorrow?
JON RAHM: I can't tell you one thing honestly because it really depends on what kind of day we get tomorrow. We could be playing in really heavy weather, wind, rain or rain, we don't know what's going to happen and we don't know what the golf course is going to play like. But I think what I mentioned, just make a decision and stick to it. Just as simple as that. Be decisive, commit to one thing and worry about what I have to do every single shot.

MARK WILLIAMS: Thanks for your time, Jon, have great Sunday.

JON RAHM: Thank you.

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