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March 20, 2019

Jon Rahm

Palm Harbor, Florida

SHARON SHIN: We would like to welcome Jon Rahm to the interview room here at the Valspar Championship. He is making his tournament debut here this week and he also has five top-10s in his eight starts this season including and he's coming off an it. 12 finish at THE PLAYERS last week where he held the 54-hole lead. If we could get some opening comments about your tournament debut here this week.

JON RAHM: T-12 is bitter sweet over there. It is my best finish so actually it's another thing to look forward to. Very excited to be here. We decided to add this event this year, later than I usually do, just because I heard so many good things about the golf course, how it's always in great shape, how it's a ball-striker's golf course. How if you are hitting it good it's a good test, it's a good place to come to. And you mentioned last week, that was true, you need to hit it great tee to green, you need to putt good, chip good, every part of your game's going to be tested and every part of the game needs to be on to be able to win here. So I'm excited for the challenge, I love the area, I love the golf course, hopefully I can keep the good golf going and improve that finish from last week.

SHARON SHIN: Open it up to questions.

Q. Even though you've never played here before, is the expectation still to win it or do you temper the expectations a little bit on a course you haven't played?
JON RAHM: I compete to win. I tee it up every week I play to win the golf tournament. Whether I played it before or I haven't.

Q. You mentioned on Sunday that it doesn't take you very long to get over disappointing rounds. I'm curious, does it kind of chase you to the practice range to say, okay, what happened on Sunday or whatever day and put in extra time to get that straight?
JON RAHM: It wasn't anything like technique or swing related. It never is. When we're hitting it so good Thursday Friday and Saturday and Sunday, things go wrong, it's never the swing, it's all up here (points to head.) Golf is 99 percent in your head, it's just what it is. And it's what I've been working on for so long and it's what I'm going to continue to be working on. On days like that it's where you learn the most about yourself and when you're going to be able to you learn those things to improve most about yourself and become a better player. So within the pain and the sadness of performing like that I'm glad it happened because I'll come out stronger and it will be another point in my career where I'll hopefully at an important event I'll have the lead again and I'll know what to do.

Q. The discussion you had with Adam on 11 on Sunday got a lot of traction on social media and a lot of discussion. I wondered if you've received any reaction to it in the last couple days and maybe does that speak to the strength of your bond with Adam that you two were able to have that sort of open and honest discussion in a critical moment?
JON RAHM: I mean, I don't look at social media. I have no idea what -- my guess is people are saying that one of us made a mistake? That's my guess.

Q. Have you spoken to any players about it or has anyone talked to you about it?
JON RAHM: Me? No. I think everybody understands. I mean Adam was just doing his job and voicing his opinion and then as usual the player has the last say, it's as simple as that. We always worked very openly like that. Honestly it's a, it's one of the first things we both agreed on when we started working was honesty. We always say what's in our mind whether we like it or not and that's why it works so well. We're really good friends and we're really close. Because of that he was going to voice his concerns and I'll say mine. Because of that we hardly ever have any complaints about each other. It's not nothing special, I mean I made a decision, I didn't pull it off, we move on. Period.

Q. Listening to you last week talk a little bit about your year of personal growth. Can you expound on that a little bit and what specifics you've been working on, were you working with an a sports psychologist, was it something you just decided to do on your own, any input from anyone on your team, because to me as a former professional I think that is where growth is in my mind. I mean you're clearly an incredible golfer.
JON RAHM: Thank you.

Q. You have been at every level and to get to that next level I find it interesting that this is the area that you found you needed to work on. Can you just expound a little bit more on that or perhaps you have already expounded, but I would like to hear that.
JON RAHM: No, I talked about it before. I do have a mental coach. I've been working with this mental coach, he's from Spain since 2014. And it's an ongoing process of becoming a better person, not only a better golfer we hardly ever talk about the golf course, it's just most of the work we do is learning how to manage emotions in life. The better my life is, the happier I am outside the golf course, the better I'm going to perform. It's as simple as that. I'm not happy because I play good, I play good because I'm happy. So that's where we're focusing a lot. It's been a long process, a long journey that I'm not even close to reaching the end. I mean we're still at the beginning, even though it's a long beginning, and we're working on it day-to-day. And a lot of the year, when I say the personal growth last year, a lot of it was maturity. Even though I've been, I consider myself mature for my age, I had to mature a lot more on the golf course. The way I behave outside the golf course and the way I behaved on the golf course were completely different things, so I had to grow up and leave that childish behavior a little bit behind. And that takes time. I'm not sure if it's going to happen again where I'm going to have a bad day and it's going to come out again, but I'm working on it for it not to happen and become a better player and a better person. It's as simple as that. I could go into details but we don't have enough time because it's years, I mean it's two years of working really hard on just improving on every aspect I can improve on.

Q. Just to follow on that on the professional Jane Crafter's question, the one thing about your emotions it seems like they help you too.
JON RAHM: Sometimes.

Q. You don't want to lose that, do you?
JON RAHM: I never will.

Q. Do you risk trying to, whatever you're trying to do here, lose that side that makes you run on --
JON RAHM: No, I'll never lose that, that is deep in my core, that's never going away, I can tell you that much. I'm still as competitive and things still hurt me, they still piss me off, they still get me mad, and that's what I hope people can see is how much I've come along on that final round to not act like Jon would have acted before. It's been a long way from the U.S. Open at 2017. And that final round was a very disappointing final round, but it helps. I mean, I don't know what they showed on the broadcast, but when I missed my putt on 12 for birdie and I left it short, I got mad. I got mad, walked to the next tee, stayed mad but still under control. Hit a great shot, made birdie, tied for the lead. So I still, it's still a work in progress where you're saying I don't want to lose that, I want to keep that fire, that fire's never going to be away, but I need to be able to use it to my advantage and still try to control and manage my other emotions and reactions better. It's that simple. Some players are really good at it. Seve was extremely good at it, Tiger is really good at it. Everybody feels the same anger that I do, everybody has that emotion, it's just how you process it and how you show it, right. I'm still going to show emotion because I can't be a robot. I mean you're going to look at my face and be able to tell if I'm happy or not, if I'm pissed off or tense, that's just how it is -- and I don't want to lose that because that's just how I am -- but still be able to control what happens. And that's the reason why I was in the lead at THE PLAYERS and that's the reason why we thought feeling with my best swing I still was able to tee off on the 15th hole with the lead or tied for the lead. Obviously Rory finished the way he did and I finished poorly, but I still held on for a long time. Maybe a couple months ago I would have just disappeared on the first four holes.

Q. What would the Jon Rahm a couple years ago have done after 12?
JON RAHM: I don't know, I think he would have lost it a long time before that. I don't think after the start of the first three holes I would have been able to pull it back like I did on 6 and 8 and have a chance. And probably after not making birdie on any of the par-5s and 11, yeah, I would have -- you would have been able to hear and see me a lot more, that's for sure. And I wouldn't have felt good about it but who knows. It is what it is. I'm, honestly, like I said, within the disappointment of a round I'm extremely proud of what I've done and that still motivates me to keep working hard knowing that I'm working in a good way and I'm on the right track.

Q. You played a practice round with Akshay earlier this week. Curious your initial thoughts on his game.
JON RAHM: He's good. He's a great player. Great attitude. You can tell he was very excited to be here, it reminded me too when I was playing in Phoenix, he was all over the place. I mean he was just walking fast, hitting a lot of putts, a lot of chips, everything which just really quick. Which it was cool to see, because I mean he is 17 years old. But man he is talented for 17 years old. I did not hit it anywhere close to that at his age. As a junior in high school? Senior? Junior. Yeah, not even close.

Q. What did you think of his decision to skip college?
JON RAHM: Well from a person who graduated from college nothing else needed. I mean each one knows what's best for themselves. Obviously I'll never judge anybody for what they do. It's a risky move, but I hope it pays off. I really hope he's talented, he's got the talent. Obviously he's still 17, he's going to have to grow up, his body will continue evolving. It's a tough life here on the PGA TOUR that I don't know if I would have been able to make it if I would have turned pro when I was 18. So hopefully he can surround himself with a group of people that can guide him and he learns quick enough to make it, but he needs to realize it's a tough road ahead. I don't know how many starts is he going to have, if he's going to have any or not, but it's difficult. The life of a golfer, especially if you don't make it -- luckily like I did -- it's a tough road. I have a lot of friend that are really good friends who are still trying to make it. They're on the Latinoamerica TOUR, MacKenzie TOUR, WEB.COM, and it's a grind. The hardest thing is getting to the TOUR. Like I said, hopefully he makes it, hopefully it pays off, but as long as he's aware that he's going to have to work hard and be patient I think he'll be fine.

SHARON SHIN: Thank you, Jon for your time and good luck this week.

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