No place like home for Rahm
The first major of the year is now in the rear-view mirror and as the march to The 147th Open Championship continues, the world’s best are getting back to regular PGA and European Tour action.
The Open de Espana is the competition the European Tour players will use to build on, or forget about, last week’s Masters, while the PGA Tour stars head to the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina.
There are plenty of fascinating storylines that emerged from the week at Augusta – which culminated in Patrick Reed’s maiden major triumph – and we’ve highlighted some to keep an eye on this weekend.
World No.4 Jon Rahm aims to shrug off his Masters disappointment when he makes his first-ever appearance at his native Open de Espana this week.
The 23-year-old posted three sub-70 rounds at Augusta after an opening 75 and was in contention on Sunday with five birdies in the first 14 holes, but eventually finished four strokes behind winner Patrick Reed.
Rahm will tee off alongside compatriot Rafa Cabrera-Bello and the 2016 winner Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston in a tournament back on the European Tour calendar after its absence last year.
Open de Espana champions through the years:— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 10, 2018
• Arnold Palmer (1975)
• Seve Ballesteros (1981, 1985, 1995)
• Nick Faldo (1987)
• Colin Montgomerie (1994)
• Sergio Garcia (2002) pic.twitter.com/2r0Kp5NRr7
Aiming to follow in the footsteps of Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia as winners at Madrid’s Centro Nacional de Golf, Rahm said: “I’ve played the course many times and that was where I formed as a golfer.
“I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully one day to be the Open de Espana champion.
“I haven’t played there for six years, so I’m not sure how much will have changed, but I hit it way different than I used to when I played there. I’ll be familiar with the golf course but still it will be a little bit different.
“I have memories of when I was 16 or 17 years old but I hit it longer and I hit it better now, so hopefully the course seems easier than it did back then.”
Keep cool Luke
It’s not been a vintage 18 months for former world No.1 Luke Donald, but the RBC Heritage undoubtedly brings out the best in him.
Donald has finished runner-up five times since 2009, and third twice at Harbour Town, South Carolina.
The 40-year-old – twice a top-five finisher at The Open in 2009 and 2012 – lost out by one stroke to Wesley Bryan 12 months ago, and plays in a talented field this time that includes former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, last year’s Open runner-up Matt Kuchar and world No.1 Dustin Johnson – back on his home-state course for the first time since 2009.
Harbour Town will host the RBC Heritage for the 50th time this week.
The winners are traditionally presented with a tartan jacket and, to commemorate their milestone anniversary, the lighthouse which sits behind the 18th tee on the South Carolina course will be wrapped in tartan.
Bryan last year became the first man since 2012 not to enter the Masters the week beforehand and go on to triumph.
He is one of 11 former champions in the field this week at the 7,099-yard, par 71 course along with five-time winner Davis Love III.