Wednesday, September 25, 2019
NEIL AHERN: Welcome to the Home of Golf, your very first experience here at St. Andrews, how did that go?
JON RAHM: It was really good. It’s great to be here. I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time, and it was really nice to share that moment with my parents and share this with my parents and my fiancée. Really looking forward to start the tournament.
The golf course is great. Very different to all the other ones. 1 through 11, downwind, was really fun. 12 through 18 into the wind was not (chuckles). As simple as that. That’s the beauty of this golf course. On paper, it’s not the most difficult one, but it can be tough. Those last five holes, actually, no, the last six holes, from 13 on, I hit 5-iron into 13, hit driver, 3wood, 6-iron into 14, and 5-iron to 15, 5-iron to 16, 4iron short on 17. I don’t think it can play more difficult than it did today but great golf course. You can just feel it’s a great atmosphere around this town related to golf. It’s really fun to be here. Really love playing and hopefully I can have a good showing again.
Q. You mentioned a very special guest is your playing partner. Can you tell us how much you’re looking forward to playing alongside your father?
JON RAHM: Both my parents have done so much for me related to golf. It’s great to be able to do something for him. When I thought about it last year, I thought, it fit the schedule, since I’m defending in Spain, I wanted to play Wentworth. So it was sort of a Christmas present for him, and he’s been looking forward to it for a long time. I heard he was nonstop practicing last week. You know, he plays a lot of golf, but this is going to be a little bit of a different experience.
Q. A lot of the players that have played the course over the years, initially didn’t like it. It took time to grow on them, but by the sound of it, you’re not like that. Have you taken to it? JON RAHM: I like it. I guess a lot of the people have a problem with the blinds shots. I don’t mind blind shots. I mean, it is a little bit different to get used to, right. You have these massive greens that you can be hitting putts from 40 yards, 30 yards, in grains that usually links golf courses, because of the wind, it’s a little slow. There’s a lot of hills in the fairway, it was very different. You kind of hope you have the right wind conditions when you are playing out here to be able to shoot low, because like I said, those last six holes, they definitely turned. If I’m hitting driver, 5iron, it’s far. You’re trying to keep it on the fairway, away from bunkers. It’s definitely a challenge. I thought it was great. I had a great day. I enjoyed it a lot.
Q. Just on your dad, I think I read somewhere, did he take up golf after The Ryder Cup at Valderrama?
JON RAHM: Yeah, so what he used to do was parasailing, rock climbing. Yeah, very exciting stuff compared to golf. One of his good friends, some of the guys were down in that area when the Ryder Cup was going on. When they came back, they said, hey, let’s try this.
I was 3 at the time. I had not turned 3 when they started playing golf. I think my dad started shortly after is when he came here for the first time. I do have a picture of me as a 4-year-old putting on the putting green they have over there by the clubhouse now. That’s how it started because of that Ryder Cup. I’ve got to say thank you for that.
Q. Some players have talked about St. Andrews and that special aura. Do you feel that? Do you feel it’s a special place? Do you feel that aura in the atmosphere?
JON RAHM: Yes, definitely. I mean, there’s not many places in the world where you go to the first tee, 150yard-wide fairway, and for some reason, you feel, yes, emotionally just excitement. And you have some type of emotion; it’s to me, one of the best tee shots I’ve ever had, even today just because of where I’m at, without particularly hitting it good. It’s special. And I’ve seen plenty of images of what this place looks like in The Open, and it seems like a different tournament from what it usually is just because of how historically important this tournament and this course together are. It definitely is something special.
Q. Shane Lowry was talking about The Race to Dubai, trying to stay in front. He said it’s going to be incredibly difficult to win The Race to Dubai because you’re breathing down his neck, Top-10 performance after Top-10. Can you talk about how you’ve performed this year? It has been pretty astonishing?
JON RAHM: Yeah, I’ve been really consistent this Rev #1 by #167 at 2019-09-25 13:14:00 GMT page 1 of 3 year. I think statistically speaking, the big difference is I hit it straighter off the tee this year, and really good putting inside six feet throughout the year. I think that may give me more birdie chances, saving a lot of pars. You can make just one more put inside each week from that distance, four shots, it’s a lot and I think that’s been the big difference.
Obviously want to win The Race to Dubai, but I think what I’m doing with my schedule, coming to play these three weeks, and after the Spanish Open, taking six off up to Dubai is going to put me a little bit back, especially all these people around me playing leading up, and end up winning with the points a little bit more.
Hopefully I can play good this week and next week and put myself in a good position to have a chance in Dubai. I mean, obviously, hopefully I can be on top of that instead of Shane at the end of the year. I’d be really happy about that. And again, it would be a good finish to a good year. I’ve been consistent all throughout, played solid, and hopefully I can win one of the last three starts on The European Tour again. I’ve been playing good. Last week was a good chance and hopefully I can keep it going, and you know, either this week or Spain, they will be really special, or Dubai, obviously I’ll take Dubai, as well.
Q. How old were you when you first beat your father?
JON RAHM: I can’t remember. I know when I first shot under par, I think I was 13 years old, 13, 14 years old when I first shot under par. So I would guess it wasn’t too early, like too early before that. Because I didn’t start taking golf really seriously up until that age and I played a lot of sports at the same time before that.
It was more the age of 13, 14, that I really — yeah, probably around that age, 13, 14.
Q. How much have you enjoyed as a European coming back to Europe, and with the new PGA TOUR season ending?
JON RAHM: Yeah, I try to come here as much as I can. It’s hard playing for what we play for in the US, but I still want to be part of The European Tour and I want to support The European Tour and I want to be Race to Dubai champion, as simple as that. And there’s still tournaments on The European Tour I would love to win. Last week was a great example. This one is a great one. These are tournaments that mean a lot and have a lot of history and would be special.
So you know, it kinds of works out that the PGA TOUR finishes a little bit earlier because we can have a break before coming here and I should play some good events. I’m happy it worked out the way it has, but I know the schedule is changing next year again. I have no clue what I’m going to do. I feel like every year as a pro has been a completely different schedule and I can’t figure it out. I’m just happy I can be here this time of year and support.
Q. You obviously did play a lot of sports in your younger days. What was it about golf that swayed the decision, compared to the other sports you used to play?
JON RAHM: Well, there’s something about golf, right, whatever it is. I’m an extremely competitive person and I also like the fact that you don’t need anybody to make golf entertaining. You can play by yourself and be fine and you can compete against yourself.
I think the journey of self-improvement is what gets all of us, right. The journey of you and yourself trying to beat the golf course and trying to beat yourself freely every day, I think that’s what made me fall in love with the game more than anybody else, and not having to depend on somebody to practice and play. That was very important as a kid. I just loved going out to the chipping range just chipping and putting and spending time by myself just because I’m competitive within myself, trying to beat my best score, as simple as that.
Q. Last week at Wentworth, now that you’ve had time to dwell and reflect on that?
JON RAHM: It’s very easy to go, could have done this, could have done that, but every player can do that in every single tournament. At the end of the day, I played good golf. I did make a couple mistakes but everybody makes mistakes. It’s hard to play a flawless round. As simple as I just don’t think I could put enough pressure on Danny when I had the chance. You know, there’s a couple moments on 11, for example, if I had hit it closer for birdie, I would have maybe put a little more pressure on his bogey putt, so 60 feet away — could have done that. Definitely could have put that ball on the green on 14, put a little bit of pressure on him then. Then even if I did everything perfectly, Danny played a great round of golf. He played really solid. Had a great day. He shot 5-under par. He’s tough to beat at that point.
So it’s hard. Had you told me before the day started that one of us is going to get to 20-under, I don’t think that would have been possible. I think I thought 18under would win it, just because of the way the forecast and how bad it was supposed to be, right. We both played good down the stretch. It’s just the one thing I keep remembering is the lipout on 16. That was not fun. That was a heavy one, and I think even with everything that happened before, kind of being able to tee off first on 17, you know, put it on the fairway, I’m still one back, put some pressure on Danny. Besides what I could have done, Danny just played a really solid round of golf. He deserved to be Rev #1 by #167 at 2019-09-25 13:14:00 GMT page 2 of 3 champion.
Q. The one downside of this event is round are played in six hours. Can you change mentally to cope with that?
JON RAHM: Well, I mean, you know, it is what it is. I mean, I played the AT&T and I played in Palm Springs, right. It’s the same deal. The rounds aren’t short. But it makes sense, especially the Old Course, we have people going everywhere. It’s going to take a while.
The only thing is if it’s bad weather, it’s going to be harder to cope with because you’re going to be waiting under the rain under the umbrella hoping to hit a good shot and hoping the weather doesn’t get bad.
At the same time, it’s a good tournament. It’s fun. You’re playing some great golf courses and in good company. Playing with friends and idols and people I’ve watched, people I’ve watched play football for so long, great to share that with hem. Playing with JP and Pádraig, future Ryder Cup Captain and hopefully next year I play for him. JP, future host of the Ryder Cup and we are going to have a good time. The way I look at it, you have six hours to get to know a couple players you’re going to have a fun time with. NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much, Jon. Have a great week.