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July 7, 2019

Jon Rahm

County Clare, Republic of Ireland

BRIONY CARLYON: Delighted to be joined by our 2019 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open champion, Jon Rahm. Three Rolex Series Event victories now, two in Ireland, and the love affair continues.

JON RAHM: Yeah, I don't know what it is. Every time we come, I just feel good all week. I feel so welcomed and so honored to be supported by the Irish crowd the way I am, that I really want to play good in front of them. It's definitely a motivator in this event. It's very special to me, as a Spanish player, it was my first European Tour win and Seve's first European Tour win. Olazábal, Seve who won three times, and to become a multiple champion, it's an honor.

Every time I come, I feel like part of history is being made, and it's just a humbling experience to come and play in front of this crowd. The list of winners, Faldo, McIlroy, Olazabal, Seve, the champions at this event, and to put my name on there is really special.

BRIONY CARLYON: Just an incredible final Sunday here at Lahinch. Obviously eight birdies, an eagle. It was just shot-making here that we haven't seen all day from anyone else. Just your thoughts about coming into the final round and really going low for that score.

JON RAHM: Well, after the run I had yesterday, more than that, the back nine yesterday, I knew I could score on the back nine. I knew I could get it done. All I needed from today was a good start. If it wasn't for that little mistake on 3, it was somewhat of a stupid mistake. It was a good second shot. Just misjudged the wind. Mis-hit the ball a little bit and hit a great putt short of the green from three feet and missed that 3-footer. You know, it doesn't feel good.

But I made a good birdie on 5 and birdie on 7 and birdie on 9, and all that was forgotten and played as solid a hole as I could play 10. That 3-wood was massive. Great second shot, great putt. I knew I could make birdies with the par 5 coming and short par 4.

The difficult putt today was after 13. I make an eagle on 12, which is a fantastic eagle with the wind into us. Get to 13, tried to hit a good iron, it's doable. Go in a bad spot, make a bad shot and make a bogey. It's really easy to derail, lose focus and forget what's going on. With the help of the crowd, I get to the tee, hit a good tee shot, go about 115 yards, I had nothing to that hole location and I was standing right back at it. Hit a great shot and when I got to the green, before I even see where the ball is at, I see I'm tied for the lead. That was a huge confidence boost.

My mindset went from thinking I had to make the putt to tie the lead to making the putt to get one ahead. I was able to do that, get ahead of Rafa and Robert before they even got to 13. I had the chance to put the pressure on them and that was a key moment, playing the 14th hole that well.

Q. Do you feel like you're playing best golf of your career right now? Does this give you huge confidence going into Royal Portrush and The Open Championship in two weeks?
JON RAHM: I'm playing definitely the most consistent. My 11th Top-10 this year, I believe, on both the PGA TOUR and European Tour. Definitely feeling good.

It's not doing anything necessarily better or special, really, compared to my first two years before. But I think I'm just a little more level-headed, a little bit more mature, slowly growing up and all that helps. Yeah, just mature, maturing. Still 24, so there's a lot of growing up to do up to this point and a lot of growing up to do from now on. That's the main difference in my golf game in this year and years past.

Q. A round of 62 is special any time, but within the final round with the title on the line; you had ten 3s in your last 12 holes. It was an extraordinary round. Your thoughts?
JON RAHM: It's funny, me and Adam talked about that. I used the same ball for the first 13 holes of the day. We normally change but I was so locked into what I was doing. I made six birdies in a row until I made a 5 on 13 -- he gave me a ball and I hit it down the fairway on 14. I said, you know what, this ball is the twin brother of the other ball. There's a lot more birdies coming in. It would have been a stretch to finish with a 3 on 18 today but that was something that was in mind. Not that the balls have anything to do with it, right, but how funny a comment like that from Adam or anybody can make you play more free.

Yeah, I can't remember making as many 3s as I have today. Yesterday was somewhat of a similar day. I had a 3 on 18. Ball-striking wise has been really good the last few months. It was really good at the U.S. Open. It was really good at Valderrama. Just my putting wasn't cooperating as much as I would have liked. It was the same case Thursday and Friday. But today and yesterday, I gained a lot of confidence with the putter and that was the main reason I was able to make all these 3s, just had my confidence.

Q. The putting, was that what clicked, the major difference after Thursday, Friday?
JON RAHM: Yeah, and I didn't play that bad. I told Adam, I left Friday frustrated because I felt like I was playing so good. Tee-to-green, I was feeling really good. I was just missing every single putt. More importantly, I was missing every par putt I had. So every chance of getting the ball in the hole for a par, and getting the round going, I was just not converting. For example, that Friday round, birdie 10, bogey 11, birdied 12 and 13, bogey 14 and 15. Any time I had a par putt, I was just not making that putt, which is probably more a mental mistake, anyway.

So I think it was Saturday on the 10th hole, I had missed a couple putts but I was feeling better. I got to the hole, you know, just forget it was a par putt from about ten feet. I'm like, forget it's a par putt. Hit this putt and trust you're aiming there and hit the ball. It was the best stroke I made all week, probably the last month, and I felt so good. I started making putts and confidence goes back up, just remembering that all I can do is hit the ball and after that it's out of my control.

Q. The drive on 14, a little bit of extra behind it after 13. Do you know how far you hit that drive?
JON RAHM: No, but I actually tried to keep everything in control. Not trying to absolutely hammer it. I was just trying to hit the fairway. I don't know how far it went. I hit it really, really good. It's really firm going down that fairway, so my guess is that that would be -- regular would be 300 yards -- I had 119 to the pin. If I get my yardage book I would be able to tell you.

Q. On Wednesday you spoke about the maturity in your game and how you feel that's kicked on. You dropped a shot on 13 and then kicked on; how happy are you with that mental side of your game that you were able to put that in focus?
JON RAHM: Extremely. You know, it was a very, very disappointing bogey after eagling 12. To channel that disappointment; luckily I had a long walk from 13 to 14. At that moment, all you can do is just remember what's important in that moment, and what's important wasn't missing the putt or the chip. What was important was the next tee shot. Based on where that pin position was, if I put the ball in the fairway, I knew I had a strong wedge in so that was my next fairway.

I hit the fairway, made the funny comment -- and 13th hole is completely gone. Like I said, I thought I was one or two back. I was assuming at least make birdie on 12 or 13, and then when I made it to the green, I'm tied for the lead. That was a big difference.

Yeah, it's a simple question of what's important in the moment, and the most important thing was the next tee shot, put it in the fairway.

Q. What were you eating on 12 and 13?
JON RAHM: Peanuts, pistachios, pecans, apricots. I have different bags. I had one with peanuts and pistachios. I think there's a picture of me in the Bahamas with a bag, as well. Sometimes you have no time, you just have a big old bag and carrying it in the bag. I can never eat all of it.

Q. You've beaten the best of Europe; would you like to see the best of the Americans coming over here and be in The Irish Open and you can beat them here?
JON RAHM: Would I like to see it? I believe I can do it. I don't really know what to say to that. It would be amazing to see some of the best players in the world come over and play, because they really are missing some of the best golf courses I've ever played in my life.

I always say, Portstewart, the front nine, is arguably the most beautiful front nine I've ever played, and I can honestly say of all the golf courses I've played in the world, this is probably one of the best I've played.

Some people might say some of the holes are a little quirky. I just decide it's different. It's unique. It's traditional and you really need to play really good golf to shoot low around here. We got really lucky it wasn't windy. If it was windy, we would have seen a test of golf, because none of those shots are easy. It's a great golf course. It's a great tournament. It's a great host country. They are missing out on a lot. They would have a lot of fun here.

Q. Will we see you back here next year going for No. 3?
JON RAHM: Do I even need to respond? (Laughter) I can't say again how much I like the Country of Ireland. Yeah, you'll see me here. Hopefully I get my third one and tie Seve. That's my goal from now on coming to this event, is to have as many wins as Seve.

Q. Heading into The Open, does that put you at the top of the list?
JON RAHM: I'm not going to tell you if I should or shouldn't be on the top of the list. That's up to you. I mean, I would be honored if I was considered. Still a lot of golf to be played. Still a lot of people coming over to play the Scottish. I'm playing good golf.

I'm going into The Open Championship with a lot of confidence. It's the only major I haven't had a good performance at and I want to. It's a special one. I'm going to have a lot of good memories from The Irish Open in Portrush, because we stayed in Portrush when we played Portstewart. Yeah, good vibes, and hopefully the Irish crowd is as supportive as it's been in the last few years and I can make a charge.

Q. What will be the preparation? Day or so at Wimbledon and back to Ireland for some practise?
JON RAHM: Rather than grind away and wear myself out and tire my body out, just relax my mind. Make sure I'm in the right mindset to play a tournament, which is what I've been doing a lot this year especially before majors. Just make sure my competitive mind is rested and ready to go. Hopefully have a good showing like I've been doing the last few times in Ireland.

Q. Talk about the 15th hole, and what is it about Ireland that feels so special?
JON RAHM: Shocked nobody asked about 15 so far. Yeah, you know, after 14, the way I was hitting driver, I wanted to get out there and hit driver as hard as possible. I think it was Friday when we ended up in a bad spot through the fairway. I grabbed a 3-wood, but toed it completely; still the right miss. It was on the right side of the fairway and started drawing back, and I started looking because it was dead centre and took a kick and ended up in the semi-rough which was not the worst thing.

I had 193 metres to the pin. Easily, I was 40 yards farther back than I wanted to be. You know, flyer lie. It was a funny moment because this is one of those times when I don't listen to Adam. One of the few times a year where I'm there, and it was right-to-left wind. There's not much trouble right of the green. Obviously missing left of the pin is the smart choice where you have the whole back of the green and close to the pin. I told him, "Right at the pin, right."

And he says, "No, I like it if you go back out." You can still see the 16th tee box. You can see the sponsor lettering and all that. He told me, "Go left."

I'm like, "No. I'm going at the pin." It's one of those, where I was just full of confidence. I knew that as long as that hole started at the pin -- or the wind was going to bring it back and I just had to hope the distance was proper, and everything worked out.

Luckily I had a very similar shot on No. 4 today from the right rough, same distance, another right-to-left wind and I was able to hit it. I hit it hard left, pin-high and I knew I just needed to hit pretty much a soft 7-iron to hopefully get the right distance. And hitting to three feet, that's one of the things you need to win tournaments, but anything on the green.

And I don't know what it is with the Country of Ireland. I'll say it again, when I come, I feel like I'm at home, the support is unbelievable. I'm going to start believing it's because of Kelley. Her last name is Cahill and she's from this county originally. Her mom's last name is McClean, so a lot of Irish in her family, so a little bit of that Irish luck even when I come.

You know, I'm just glad I can defend this championship again and be The Irish Open Champion again. It's a huge honour I'm proud to carry.

BRIONY CARLYON: Thank you for your time and congratulations again.

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