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April 28, 2019

Jon Rahm

Ryan Palmer

Avondale, Louisiana

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, welcome, the 2019 Zurich Classic of New Orleans champions. What an amazing day it's been for you guys, an amazing week really, so congratulations. Ryan, this is your fourth victory on TOUR, and Jon, this is your third. Obviously your first together playing as a team.

You move to 19 in the FedExCup, and Jon, you move to No. 6 in the FedExCup, so it's been a good day for you guys all around. If you could talk to us about the meaningfulness of this victory for you guys as a team.

RYAN PALMER: You know, what it means, I don't want to speak to -- we weren't even a team. We played together last year when I was playing with Jordan and he was playing with Wesley, and I knew Jordan wasn't going to play this year, and with Wesley going through the shoulder surgery, both no partners, so James and I talked about it way back in January. I really wanted to come here. I wouldn't miss coming here each and every year, and we kind of talked about partners, and Jon was one of the top ones if not the top choice for both of us. We know Adam since day one we've been on TOUR, good friends with Adam for a long time. It was an easy decision. I shot him a text hoping he would bite. When a 42-year-old player is calling him, he's probably like, why does he want to play with me.

But he accepted, and what an awesome week. Our games complement each other so much, the way we drive the ball, our iron play, and there's nothing better than missing greens knowing his short game is behind me. What a week.

THE MODERATOR: It sounds like it's been a really emotional afternoon for you given that you haven't won for nine years, but I want to talk to Jon; this is your third victory and your third year on TOUR. That's obviously something that you're trying to do is win every year. Talk about that a little bit.

JON RAHM: Yeah, it's been an incredible week with RP. He summarized it very well. When Wesley told me he was having shoulder surgery a few months before the event, I was in no man's land, no partner. I got a text from Ryan, and I was like -- last year we were joking around saying, we are going to play together really, really well based on how we played last year, and we saw each other, and it was a clear choice. I'm really happy I said yes. I couldn't be more thrilled.

RYAN PALMER: I hope so.

JON RAHM: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, pretty happy about it. I can say Jordan and Wesley, sorry, we already have a partner for next year.

It's been incredible. To win my third PGA TOUR event with Ryan, obviously very different stories, but to get it done together, the way it happened, he started off playing great, I kind of struggled and then I came through in the middle and then he finished it up. It was amazing. Three years in a row to keep winning, it's not the record or things like that in our minds, but to keep winning every year and have streak like that, it's important to me. I got close this year a couple times, seven top 10s, and to get it done today, being tied for the lead, and probably the hardest format I can think of to get it done, foursomes, where you don't have control every shot, and obviously I had full confidence in Ryan all week, but even some moments as a player, like man, I see this shot but I can't hit it. It's definitely the hardest thing, at least it was for me. But I'm happy we actually did it and it came out the way we did.

THE MODERATOR: Having said that, do you feel like it's doubly special when you have a partner, especially like you said in a difficult format?

JON RAHM: Yeah, mainly because for the most part golf is an individual sport. You get to share that win with your caddie on the golf course, and we've both been able to do that. But to share that win with a partner you've been playing with, it's both of our score, and know that we both played our best this week to be able to get it done, it's something special. To win as a team, it's something you don't get to feel very often in golf. I hope it happens again.

Q. Coming into today, you guys' driving has obviously been a strength. Today I think you hit maybe five fairways. How were you able to get it done with what looked like so easy winning by three leading the entire day without finding the short grass as often as you did earlier this week?
JON RAHM: Since I only hit one fairway I'm going to respond to that.

RYAN PALMER: Go ahead.

JON RAHM: I'm going to go ahead and say it was all thanks to him, because I couldn't find the planet to save my life for the most part of the day. I think the only fairway I hit was the iron on 8. Even though they weren't very far off line, what got us going for the most part was a lot of those par putts that Ryan made. My shot yesterday on 17, that eight-footer to make the bogey, kept the round going. He made a lot of those. He made one on 4. He kept making such good putts. He made another one on 8. That putt on 8 was crucial. And that's what got us going.

I was able to have a few moments on the back nine, kind of showed up, showed my face a little bit, made that putt on 10, and the shots on 13 and 14 and 15. But for the most part all those putts he made, including the one on 16 to keep the round going for pars, and 11, and I could keep going on and on, on greens that were not easy to putt on. We didn't see many balls go in in our group. I don't know how the rest of the field was, but it was difficult out there.

Q. Ryan, 2010 Sony was obviously your previous win; were there ever times in those nine years that you wondered if you were ever going to get back to this stage, maybe a couple years ago when things were a little tough?
RYAN PALMER: You know, I always felt I could win again. Just so many things have to go right that week to win, and you've got to have luck on your side throughout the week, obviously, and a great game. I've had a lot of chances since then, a lot of second-place finishes, a lot of third- or fourth-place finishes, and just never could get over that hump. One round kind of kept me out of it each time. But I just kept believing in what I was doing. I knew my game was good enough.

I mean, I'm pretty proud that I've been out here for nine years since then still. Even though I haven't won, I've battled each and every year, and I've played consistent golf. You never know when that next win is going to come, and man, to come in at 42, and obviously in a partnership with Jon, and to have my wife and my son flew in this morning from Dallas, some friends are here from Amarillo, as well, it was -- this will live with me the rest of my life for sure.

Q. And I did want to go back to 2017. Can you talk about the importance of changing your putting grip?
RYAN PALMER: Yeah, there was a time where -- even James said, I think it was John Deere, he goes, you need to claw this one because you've got to do something different. I'm not going to use that word, what we were going through in putting, but it was getting close to it. I've used the same putter since college pretty much, and I went back home, and I remember going to San Antonio with a friend of mine, and I went to a golf store and bought six putters, and then ended up at his club with 10 putters.

But Randy Smith, he put the Flat Cat grip on my putter and said, let's just try it, I think this could be the key. I went to it a year and a half ago in the off-season, and I've been with it ever since, same putter, Flat Cat grip, and it's turned my game around. I think I'm top 50 in strokes gained putting as opposed to 195 last year, which I didn't know there was 195 players out here.

But what a -- it just shows the work I put into it and the trust I gave it, and I just kept grinding and grinding with it. I'm getting stronger and stronger with it every day it feels like.

Q. What are the chances of getting those things through security at the airport, and second, when you made the birdie at 10, Jon said birdies were tough to come by today. When you made the birdie at 10, did you feel pretty much in control then?
JON RAHM: Well, first, I don't know. I think if you put in your suitcase and check it in, it should be all right.

RYAN PALMER: My son is going to wear it, I think.

JON RAHM: Well, 10 was a good turning point for me because even though I missed the fairway, I smoked that drive. I hit a great tee shot, hit a good shot in there, and it wasn't the easiest the putts, but up until then I didn't have the line or I didn't have the speed. I had been struggling with putts, a couple short ones, and I finally had one that it was so much break, so unorthodox, that all those things that were bothering me went out the window. I just felt it, aimed to the right and made the putt, and that gave us I think it was a two-shot lead at that point.

It kind of was going, but we struggled through 11, we saved par on 12. I think the only moment when we felt truly secure is when that putt for par at 15 went in, at least for me, knowing that 16 we should make a par on. The only truly hard shot we had left, he had it on 17. But no, I didn't feel like we were in control at all.

RYAN PALMER: I'm going to give my putt on 14. That was my crucial part. But yeah, your putt on 15 was -- to make that on 15 --

JON RAHM: You made a lot of putts today that were crucial.

RYAN PALMER: No, the putt on 15 was -- to me, it was a deal closer mentally. I thought, a nice fairway on 16, wedge it on the green, two-putt, and then I had a clear mind of what I wanted to do on 17. It was hit it as far right as I could.

It was nice playing the last hole with a three-shot lead, that's for sure.

Q. Ryan, I'm sure you knew a lot about Jon's game before this week, but what did you learn about his game playing with him this week?
RYAN PALMER: Just the grind he puts into it. He's intense. At times I could probably find a little more intensity in my game. I just kind of go back, my laid-back attitude, and maybe that's why we existed so well this week. I was kind of just cruising along. But no, I knew how good he was, or how good he is, the way he drives it, and his iron play, you can tell he's destined for great things in this game, that's for sure.

I'm just glad he drug me along for a week, and we drug each other along. But it's fun to be around it, watching him, and his eye on the greens is pretty good. Just the way he can read a green. I'll take him any day I can.

Q. Jon, you said you only hit one fairway; was that 16 where you hit -- they said on TV you hit an 8-iron?
JON RAHM: No, I hit two fairways, 4-iron and a 7-iron.

RYAN PALMER: I'm going to give him a little credit. His missed fairways were a foot off.

Q. They set up 16 to obviously make it a drivable hole, but you guys had the lead, so did you strategize --
JON RAHM: I'm going to go ahead and say I was held up by three people because in my mind all I had in mind was driver. I'm like, if I hit it good, I'm going to fly it on the green. Water wasn't in my mind. Perfect fader's hole. If not, we're 30 yards to the right, dump it on the green, two-putt. But I've got to think of my partner; he had to hit the next shot, so with a three-shot lead, just a 7-iron in there, put it on the green, hopefully two-putt and go to the next.

I probably would have laid up in another situation, maybe a different lay-up, but yeah, it was the smart choice.

Q. Did you guys learn anything about yourselves off the golf course, like interests or hobbies or things that you like to do?
JON RAHM: I learned about the song that we had the first day.

RYAN PALMER: Louisiana Saturday Night.

JON RAHM: I learned about that because I had no idea about it up until three minutes before we teed off.

RYAN PALMER: Did you like it, though? Did you like the song?

JON RAHM: Yeah, I listened to about 10 seconds, and I'm like, okay, I've got the beat, let's go.

Q. Ryan, you mentioned it leaving the 18th green, but just given your connection to the city and the Saints, does this make it a little bit extra special for you?
RYAN PALMER: It really does. You know, we actually went to the Saints' facility Thursday during our long delay, and we were retrieving punts. We weren't retrieving them, some friends about, but hung out in the facility. I spent a full day there with Coach Payton and their medical staff. I'm dealing with some foot issues, and we used their new facility with all their treatment and cold plunge and everything. But no, it's really cool to be a part of this win, knowing my relationship with him. Desi Vega, we eat at his steakhouse twice at least during the week, maybe three times.

But my relationship with Coach is very special, and then I know he wasn't here, he's going to kill himself not being here because I know his daughter was graduating college out in LA, but no, it's pretty cool to come back to a city where I've always enjoyed coming, and I have a beat-down love for the Saints through Sean, and I know the Cowboys play here in September, so we'll be back then.

Q. Jon, I wanted to take you back to Paris last fall. You didn't get a chance to play foursomes during the Ryder Cup. I was curious, how did you feel about that, and do you feel like the way you guys played in foursomes this week that you kind of -- maybe a little bit of satisfaction or kind of showed something that I can play this format?
JON RAHM: How did I feel about not playing then or -- you always want to play as much as possible for the team, but I think it was shown that it was a smart thing not for me to play those foursomes. I was quite erratic off the tee on my four rounds, four-ball rounds. I was hitting my irons good and putting good, I just couldn't find it off the tee, and on that golf course you had to be in the fairway. And what failed me then was really strong this week besides today really for the most part. For the first three days I hit the driver about as good as I've ever hit it, trying to hit it as hard as possible most of the time, and today the ones that I missed weren't too far off the fairway, they were always in play, which is what I was looking for today, right. I never wanted to put Ryan in an impossible spot and having to lay up for a par.

And foursomes is always this -- it's always a challenge. It's a challenge that I love. I love sharing the stage with somebody. I love playing. I love getting together to get a round going, and this week to get 10-under with only one bogey on this golf course, it's quite a presence. We did a really, really good job, and hopefully for the years to come we can keep doing it like that.

Q. For anyone that didn't notice, can you tell us about the Skittles, how they were used, the significance of them?
JON RAHM: How did it happen?

RYAN PALMER: Playing with Bubba and J.B., we were playing with them, and they were throwing the ball around the horn when they made birdie, so we thought about we threw the putter around the horn and that didn't work. Of course we had to teach Jon what around the horn was in baseball, and he didn't know anything about it. So then Adam had a bag of Skittles, and he goes, Do you want a Skittle? You just made birdie. Like, sure, let's go, and it started: Let's go make birdies for Skittles. So every time we saw him the next day, he's like, Let's go get some Skittles. And that's kind of what it turned into.

JON RAHM: We shot like 5-under on the back nine once we started doing the Skittles, so we felt like it worked out pretty good.

RYAN PALMER: Just one Skittle so we couldn't get too big of a sugar rush.

Q. You mentioned how challenging the putting was before. Do you have a sense of why that was today? Did it have anything to do with changing conditions, drying out from three days earlier, or anything like that, but a lot of guys were hitting the ball past the hole, and you guys obviously handled it very well.
RYAN PALMER: Yeah, the greens were crusty. I know they're redoing the greens after this week, and they were firm, fast. When you get crusty, your putter blade slips around on it when you put the putter behind the ball. So you're really cautious with that. And when you get greens that are that crusty, it's hard for the friction to kind of grab the ball and take breaks, and then the speed is so different from what you're used to. I think Jon will say these are probably faster than what he putted on at Augusta, I believe, just from the dryness of them. It's hard when you play slower greens that have been wet for three days and you come to these. But what a day to buckle down and make the ones we needed to.

JON RAHM: Yeah, I mean, I never really got truly used to them up until the back nine. I couldn't get it done, and as I was saying, he had to make -- he had to save my mistakes a bunch of times on those greens to make pars. It was a test. When you have greens that have slopes that are not ready to have greens in this shape, it was challenging, definitely challenging, because what you've been seeing all week and what you've been feeling all week is not going to happen. You kind of have to develop new feeling and think a little bit more about how the ball is going to react. It was definitely difficult.

Q. Ryan, can you talk about how cool it is to play with a player who is so young and has such a very high ceiling in this game, and what do you think Jon could do in his career?
RYAN PALMER: No, it's really cool. I mean, I loved every moment with Jordan. For two years we played together. And he's the same age as Jon. Everybody knows what he's done. But everybody kept asking me, How did you do this; what is it with the young men now you're playing with. 24 year olds. I'm like, you know, I'm just enjoying it. But what his game is -- that was kind of bad, wasn't it? (Laughter.)

But no, it's fun seeing these kids play the game. It really is. I've been there when Tiger was dominating and when Phil was doing what he's done and back when Ernie was playing the way he played and Vijay, but to see these kids today, it's a different game, the game they play. It's really fun to play with a guy that can not only hit the ball the way he does, but watching his short game, I learned so much from watching it, the shots he hits when he's got a bump-and-run or flop it, doesn't matter. But he's got a special art, that's for sure. He'll be winning a lot of tournaments, multiple majors, I believe, for sure, and just -- it's pretty cool, and honored to be a part of his story.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you. Impressive performance. Thank you for being gracious with your time, and enjoy the celebrations and good luck the rest of the season.

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