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January 30, 2020

Jon Rahm

Scottsdale, Arizona

Q. Nice start. 4-under, 68. You had a chance at 7 to get it to 6-under par there. The ball just wouldn't drop. But are you pleased with what happened today?
JON RAHM: Yeah, I'm happy. Every time you're playing good golf and you make a bogey towards the end of the round like I did on my 17th hole, it's, you know, it's just not the best feeling, but it doesn't take away from how good of a round I played. I know it's hard, it's easy to focus on those lipouts I had today, but at the same time, I did make a few more than lengthy putts, over 10 feet for par, like the one on 1, the one on 12, and I think there was another one over there that, it always keeps the round going. So hopefully I can play as good as I did today and maybe give myself a better chance on the par-5s. I pretty much laid up on all of them -- well, not on 3, but I didn't really have a club to get to that pin. So again, if I can keep hitting it good off the tee, I'll give myself chances. It should be a good week.

Q. Pat Tillman on your shoes today. Obviously, the world talking about Kobe Bryant and how we lost him this past week. But Pat Tillman, man, what a great American. Died fighting for his country and you continue to honor him today.
JON RAHM: They're both two great examples and role models of how we can live our lives, two very different ways. One of them a very accoladed, very successful student athlete at ASU. Great career in the NFL that he had with the Cardinals until he decided to go and do one of the most all altruistic things you can do and defend his country, right? Fight for freedom and fight for the right things in life. And unfortunately, he passed away doing that.

So it's really sad what happened to Kobe as well. I wish I could do more for him, but this week we already had this planned. And being an ASU grad, just raise awareness that, you know, there's some people out there fighting for us while we are here, we're all here, people drinking and hitting some golf shots and some people risking their lives to make sure we actually keep doing this without any threats. And at the same time, we do have the number 24 on the golf balls. We were able to do that in time. So I'm trying double-dip a little bit there. I can't do much with jerseys, what Justin Thomas did today, because he was a Nike athlete. I can't be wearing Nike jerseys, right? So, again, it is my turn to do something else and we had this planned. So as an ASU grad, I feel like Pat Tillman and the foundation is still a great cause.

Q. Some comments on your play today.
JON RAHM: Solid day, man, really, really solid. Played good, I feel like I did everything good. The only thing I wish I could take back is that 8th hole and maybe get a clean card and shoot 66. But still really, really solid day. It's easy to fixate on a couple of those lipouts that I had because they were a little bit harsher than I would have liked. But at the same time I made some good putts. Good birdie putt on 2, good par putt on 1, great par putt on 12, so overall everything balances out, it was a solid day. I'll take four days of playing tee to green as good as I did today.

Q. It's got to the to be the shoes, right?
JON RAHM: It is the shoes, yeah. It's all good luck. I mean, yeah. I always try to do something for the home crowd, always, as an ASU Sun Devil, we always, you got to learn and you basically get imprinted what Pat Tillman meant. He was a great example and role model as a student athlete and then having his life figured out, basically being an NFL player decided to go to war, joined the Army and defend the country. And it's just trying to raise awareness that while we are here, most of the people here are partying, drinking, enjoying the nice sunny Scottsdale weather, there's people out there, not only military but there's a lot of people out there just defending and fighting for us to have a secure and safe life and to be able to enjoy things like this. So never to forget things like that.

Q. Are you going to be wearing them all week? You're kind of a crowd favorite this week. What's it like for you to know that that crowd's behind you here?
JON RAHM: It's fun and it's the biggest golf event in the sense of the most amount of people that come watch, so if you're a Sun Devil and a hometown favorite you get a lot of people that's supporting you and it's fun, it's great. Especially on 16 if you hit a good shot or make the putt the cheer is extra loud. And then to your question, yes, I will be wearing them all week.

Q. I know that Justin Thomas too is doing the Kobe jersey, stuff like that. What's it like having so many opportunities to do tributes for guys who have impacted you at this tournament?
JON RAHM: I'm also - TaylorMade did a great thing on the ball, we have number 24 on our golf balls, if people didn't catch up and their cameras didn't get it. It's, in one case because Tillman, it's been awhile since he passed away, it's a great thing to be able to honor him. But with Kobe being so recent, even when he put it on I forgot for a little bit and it's just a sad memory, right. Not only him but everybody and the families that are suffering from that. But at the same time not everybody is going to be able to do something to honor his legacy, but to be in an atmosphere and in a place in life as athletes to be able to honor and do something for him, it's a beautiful thing, right, so luckily we can do it. I was glad to see Justin Thomas wear that Lower Merion jersey, it was pretty cool. I'm sure somebody else will be having either Kobe shoes or Kobe-colored shoes or Kobe shirts. I don't know if anybody else is going to hit it with a basketball jersey on, but like I said, again, it's sad, but at the same time it's an honor to be able to do it for him. And especially what he stood for and the mind that both athletes had, right, and if everybody had a mindset like that of trying to be the best version of yourself, the world we're living in right now would be a lot better than it is right now, definitely.

Q. When you travel the world how often do people shout, Go Sun Devils, or, Forks up?
JON RAHM: Well a lot in the U.S. Outside the U.S. not very often. I mean, I would have not known what ASU was if I hadn't come to the States. It's not, we don't know -- I mean, when I was in Spain I might have known from the U.S. the Yankees the Giants, the Yankees mainly because of the hats, they're everywhere, a couple other universities and teams and that's about it. So if I hear anything related to ASU outside the U.S. if it's not a graduate I'm really, really surprised.

Q. As you're starting to come up to the Phoenix Open beforehand are there any special preparations you do knowing that this tournament is a little bit more rowdy and loud? Like are there any special preparations you do before coming?
JON RAHM: No, not for the crowd, because it's something you expect. I think you can't really get -- you can't replicate this anywhere and you can't really get ready for it, so all you can do is try to stay as calm as possible early on. But then the more you play it -- it was hard the first few years -- but the more you play it, the more used to it you get. And the crowd we might get here, it's pretty much the crowd gets every day on his round. So if you get to play with him like I did at Augusta and at Torrey Pines that was a pretty good way to practice it, just because, more than the crowd and the cheers, it's some of the noises you might hear, cameras or off timing, but that's about it. You can't really get ready for it. You just have to experience it and learn from it.

Q. What did you hit at 16 today by the way?
JON RAHM: Pitching wedge. A soft pitching wedge because of the adrenaline. Usually it's a number where I have to hit a hard one. Not today.

Q. Is it -- I know you're playing it shot by shot as you go around -- is it tough not to let your mind wander ahead to 16, just because it's so unique?
JON RAHM: When I first played here it was hard not to think about it, just because I was scared of it, but now it's just a fun moment. You look forward to it, but you are here to do a job, so you have five holes before that you have to take care of and that's what we go on. You kind of have it on your mind on 11 tee and maybe around the second shot on 15, just because they're hard shots and the crowd might explode at any point so you got to time it a little bit so it doesn't happen on your back swing. But besides that I try not to think about it too much.

Q. Does your first Phoenix Open feel like an eternity ago? A lot has changed a lot since then.
JON RAHM: No, it's changed a lot, but no, I get the same feelings every time I come back, really. It's an honor to be here, it's an honor to play in front of this crowd and again it's so much fun that I keep getting those feelings I had the first time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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