Rahm wants to add Claret Jug to impressive young résumé
With a triumph on a links course fresh in his memory, Jon Rahm hopes to add a Claret Jug to his ever-growing list of accomplishments.
Rahm took last week off after cruising to a six-shot win at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, leaving the field in his wake after a final-round 65. As he gets set to make his second appearance in The Open, Rahm’s closing performance at Portstewart gives him reason to smile.
“Obviously if it’s not my best, it was really close to my best that week,” Rahm said. “To shoot the score that I did, especially in the final round, it does give me a little bit of confidence.”
Still just 22 years old, the Spaniard heads into a major as one of the tournament favorites based on a torrid 2017 that also saw him win the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. It’s a familiar position for Rahm, who also received a hefty share of the pre-tournament attention at last month’s U.S. Open before plummeting to a missed cut that featured more club tosses than memorable shots.
Rahm believes that his rapid ascent into the top 10 of the world rankings bred a sense of complacency, one that contributed to a missed cut at the Memorial and a forgettable week at Erin Hills.
“When I got to the U.S. Open, I tried to control too much. I tried to do too much,” Rahm said. “I tried to take care of too many things at the same time. And this game, when you try to control a lot of things, most of the time the course controls you, and that happened.”
Rahm regrouped afterwards, putting together a new game plan with his mental coach, Joseba del Carmen. Their approach paid immediate dividends at Portstewart, where Rahm relied on mental and breathing exercises while turning a tight battle entering the final round into a rout.
“I surprised myself,” Rahm said. “It shows that whatever we’re doing is working, so hopefully I can keep it up.”
It’s already been a banner year for Spanish golf, with Rahm’s rise coinciding with Sergio Garcia’s breakthrough at the Masters and Rafael Cabrera-Bello’s victory last week at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. It’s a trend that Rahm hopes to continue, and after watching Seve Ballesteros’ 1979 Open win “about a million times” on video, he’s eager to add his name to the Claret Jug.
“To whoever compares me to him, I’m never going to be Seve. Seve was so unique, so special,” Rahm said. “When I’m compared to him, it’s really beautiful to hear those words. To be honest, if I’m somewhat compared to him, to see the hopes people have in me, it’s amazing. I try to take it as a positive and embrace it.”