Team Spain

PGA Tour: Jon Rahm Speaks With The Media Ahead of 2020 Players Championship

PGA Tour professional Jon Rahm addresses the media ahead of making his 4th career start at The Players Championship in which he recorded a 12th place finish in last year’s edition.

PGA Tour: Jon Rahm previews 2020 Players Championship prior to Thursday start

THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome Jon Rahm here to the interview room at THE PLAYERS Championship. Jon is making his fourth start at the event and coming off a T12 in 2019. If we can just get an opening comment on your return to TPC Sawgrass.

JON RAHM: I have to say, T12 doesn’t reflect how good I played that week for the most part. It’s great to be back. It’s great to be back. Last year was a really fun week. Unfortunately I didn’t have my best Sunday, but besides that it was an unbelievable week.

After two years of playing average I would say on the golf course, one MDF and one barely-made cut basically, it was good to come back and play solid. Like every year I started with a solid round and it was nice to follow with a couple good ones, to shoot 8-under par here with a chance to tying the course record on 18, it was great golf played. Probably one of the best iron days or iron weeks on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that I’ve had in a very long time and one of the best I’ll ever have. So hopefully I can do the same thing this year, play good and have a good showing on Sunday and give myself a chance coming down the stretch.

THE MODERATOR: You’ve had a very strong start to the season, four top 10s in your first five starts on the PGA, ranked in the top 5 in strokes gained off the tee and putting. What’s been the key to your consistent play so far this season?

JON RAHM: Yeah, I think I’ve been consistently good off the tee for four years. I think the putting stat is more unusual, I might say. I know last year I was really good inside five feet on TOUR, and this year I think I’m really good inside 10 feet. I’m playing really good. Sometimes just need to butter up your putter a little bit, just need to be nice to it and maybe hope for the best and put your time in, just butter it a little bit.

Q. Could you just talk about your growth, not so much in your golf game but just in terms of your temperament, handling tough situations? 2017 here was not good for you on that Saturday, but yet last year when you did not have a good round on Sunday, you did rein in your emotions. You didn’t let it combust you in any way. Is that a reflection how much you’ve grown from age 22 to age 25 in that respect?
JON RAHM: I mean, I’m going to be really critical of myself, and it is an improvement, let’s say, maybe in that sense to the public eye, but to myself I still didn’t perform the way I wanted to. There’s been times that I’ve gotten mad and I’ve performed better, so it was one of those days where I taught myself, at least I showed myself that I can keep it under control. It’s just, next time I need to do that and still perform the way I want to, right? I feel like I was not showing it as much but I was keeping it within me and I was carrying a lot of tension, and I just need to learn how to release a little bit more. And you only learn from experience and getting yourself in those situations. That’s why I said that that Sunday I didn’t play great but it was still a great opportunity for me.

And yeah, I’ve said many times, I think it was 2018 that I said maybe it wasn’t my best golf year, but when it comes to personal growth, it was huge for me. Stuff I don’t want to talk about in the public and let everybody know what I’m dealing with, but it was huge. And it keeps on going.

Me and Kelly are married now, we had our second wedding ceremony in the U.S. just over a week ago, and in that sense in my personal life things couldn’t be better. With this being a work in progress, what people don’t see, is the reason why I’m so happy now and one of the reasons why I’m so consistent and playing better, maybe one of the reasons why the bad weeks aren’t so bad is one of those many things. It’s very easy to translate what happens in real life onto the golf course, just because whatever happens outside is so much more important.

Slowly I’m just maturing. I’m 25 years old and I was 22 and just out of college. Things just happen.

Q. Do you still feel there are times when maybe inside you’re doing a little slow burn because you’re not playing the way you want to on a golf course but then there are times when maybe that helps you kind of give yourself a little —
JON RAHM: So many times. So many. I mean, what I feel is the willingness to compete and perform my best, right, so when I’m not doing that, if I try to put that aside, I’m just playing on the same, like mindset, I don’t know how to put it, like just keep on going, it’s not what it is, but the truth is, it does matter. Each shot matters, and when I play good, sometimes I’m just — sometimes you need to feel yourself and change what’s going on. I’ve done it many times where nobody has seen it, where maybe I get mad where I need to do anything outspoken or anything, but I get mad and that starts a stretch of good golf. It’s happened. It happened in Ireland last year. I played 36 holes where I wasn’t happy. I got to the 10th tee and I basically told Adam, that’s it, I kind of got a little mad of — not mad, but a little tense, just going like, I’m mad, and that followed up by a great week and ended up winning the tournament. I’m not the only one, a lot of people do it. I think Tiger did it, a lot of other people do it, some people smile through it, some people don’t, but we all do it.

Q. I know you’ll be focused on this tournament this week but you’ve got a chance this week to go to world No. 1. Is that one of those sort of career goals and one of those boxes you want to tick?
JON RAHM: I don’t know how many times I’m going to answer this question. Yes, it is. But again, it’s a consequence of good play. So I just need to focus on from the first shot on Thursday to the last one on Sunday. If I do my job properly and I play good and I win the tournament, that will be a reality. If I just focus on being No. 1 and play bad, that will never happen.

Yes, it is a goal, but I’m here to win tournaments. I’m going to perform, and that’s what I’m here to do.

Q. Number one, have you taken any personal precautionary measures and has anything changed different because of the scare over the coronavirus?
JON RAHM: Well, I mean, I’ve done some research on it, and there’s a lot of things you can look at. From what I hear, the flu is deadlier than this virus, but at the same time still need to do your part to not expand it as much as possible. If everybody washes their hands as much as possible, we don’t touch each other as much, keep your hands off your face, you might be able to prevent as much as possible. And I’m also saying it because I know it affects the elderly a little more, and I have an 85-year-old grandma with asthma, and I know it’s a respiratory virus. So I know she’s a target, and she is close to me and dear to me. My brother has asthma, Kelly has asthma, Kelly’s mom has asthma. I know it’s a respiratory problem, so there’s so many cases close to me that it could affect, so it is obviously my duty and everyone’s to do as much as we can to prevent that even as hard as it is, it is what it is.

So this week, I love to fist pump and high five the kids, but it might be the one week where we don’t do it. I love also to sign autographs, I might restrain from that a little bit, too. Not from being selfish reasons, I just feel like it might be the best thing for everybody.

Q. Talk about the grouping you’re in, the uniqueness of the top three players in the world and what it will be like playing with Rory and Brooks.
JON RAHM: Well, it’ll be really fast playing with those two in the group. I’m not going to act like I’m the fastest, but I know I’m not slow, so with them two and me, it’s going to be nice.

You know, it’s exciting. You have the defending champion in one group, we have the 54-hole leader from last year and one of the best major championship performances we’ve seen in a very long time, so I’m excited. Brooks has had some really good rounds here, shot 9-under on 2019 on Sunday. Obviously it’s just an exciting week. You live for those moments. We all practice together in those nice groups and it’s nice to be recognized and it’s really nice to just be a part of it. I kind of feel like, not the outsider, but obviously they both have four major titles, both been No. 1 in the world, FedEx Cup Championships, many things, they’re both Nike. I feel like I’m trying to — I might have something to prove besides just good golf.

Q. This is the first of a marquee tournament of the year where there are the four majors and the Olympics. How do you prepare for a run where you have — where this is an Olympic year — and how do you prepare your game to be clicking on all cylinders here and the rest of the marquee tournaments heading into the Olympics?
JON RAHM: Well, with the schedule changing so much the last four years I’ve been a pro, I can’t tell you anything specific because I’ve done different things. But I think a lot of it goes to tailoring maybe a workout schedule or your workouts in that sense. I do a lot of work with them and make sure I’m going to peak at the right time.

I am doing different things in the schedule this year just because of the — of how much golf we have coming up, how much high-quality golf we have coming up. Now that the Olympics are happening, right, I think it’s — I thought they said — have they not said if they’re doing it or not, the Olympics? I might be wrong. They haven’t said anything? Okay, never mind. I thought they were — okay, that would be a huge thing if they do or not because if we’re not playing, they might add another tournament throughout the year. If not, obviously playing the Olympics if I can, if I qualify I would love to.

Yeah, I can’t tell you anything special. I mean, usually the week before, make sure you’re eating properly, you’re hydrating, making sure your body is going to be in the best possible condition for that week, don’t burn yourself out. But I don’t think there’s any special secret or any formula to make it, right. You have different things. Tiger never played the week before, Brooks plays the week before. Jack never played the week before, Phil plays the week before. There’s many different examples to do, and it’s strictly personal.

Now, what I do like is that THE PLAYERS Championship being before the majors, I think it puts a little bit more emphasis on it, just because it gets the great recognition that it deserves. I mean, we’ve got to be honest, we’re playing a major championship quality event. It’s as simple as that. It’s the best field there is. It’s one of the best golf courses we play all year. It tests golfers like a major championship. And I think — I mean, we could treat it, we should treat it like a major championship pretty much, because it is what it is. It’s that high quality.

I’m happy it’s this time of year and THE PLAYERS gets the attention that it deserves.

Q. You played so well here last year. I mean, aside from two or three shots, it could have been you holding the trophy instead of Rory holding the trophy. Does that give you good feelings about coming back this year and good feelings about how well you have played this golf course already?
JON RAHM: Yeah, it’s kind of what I said earlier. My first two years, it’s not like I played bad, but I just didn’t have the showing I would have liked. Every year I started with a solid first round, and it is a golf course that I like, last year I proved that I can play properly here, at least for three rounds, hopefully four. It is something I like. It’s a ball-striking golf course. You need to hit it really well off the tee no matter what you hit and you need to be accurate with the irons. On paper, it should play to my strengths. That’s why I like it. Again, it gives you a lot of options off the tee, it’s not the longest golf course and you can rail it back as much as you want and be as aggressive as you want, and last year it was a great example. You see Rory hitting driver on 18 with a one-shot lead, one- or two-shot lead, whatever he had, and put it in the fairway and making himself a lot easier second shot. And in other cases with other people are hitting drivers or not. It’s a great golf course, it’s a great design, and like I said, I think it suits ball-striking. You need to be a ball striker. Obviously we have years like Webb Simpson’s where he was making every putt he looked at, but for the most part I think ball strikers have had good success here. I think that’s why Adam Scott plays good almost every year, why Tiger has played good, why Sergio is up there pretty much every other year. You need to be good tee to green. I’m playing good, so hopefully I can play as good as I did last year.

Q. You were mentioning Sergio. The 17th hole, from your point of view what’s so special about that hole, and do you remember watching Sergio having success and having trouble in that hole and how did you leave that hole in the last two years?
JON RAHM: Well, he made a hole-in-one in the group behind me, so that was a pretty special moment. He did win in a playoff on that hole, and unfortunately he did lose a tournament on that hole, as well, right, so it shows you can’t escape it. You can’t escape it. If you’re going to be brave you need to hit a great shot. There’s no way around it. It’s a great, great design of a golf hole when the best players in the world are struggling with a pitching wedge in their hands. It’s as simple as that.

You know, a lot of it goes to strategy and the setup and the wind. If you have no wind, obviously it gets a little more accessible.

The front pins are a little bit more doable just because of the slope of the green helping you stop the ball. When the pin is on the top tier, I think the public that watches on TV can’t appreciate how firm that is, so if you land it anywhere close to the pin, most of the balls are ending up in the water long, so you try to dial it back and you end up on the bottom tier. It’s not the easiest shot. I think it looks — the green doesn’t look big off the tee, and when you’re looking at how small the landing areas are, it’s tiny. That’s the greatness of it. And then you have a great atmosphere around, the public cheering on you. It’s amazing when you actually get to hit a good shot and make birdie. It’s really fun.

Obviously I think you can’t pretend to go your whole career without messing up on that hole. It’s going to happen. It happened to me. Probably will happen again, but I’m hoping I can get a couple birdies in between.

Q. You’ve gone into great detail about the passion that you play with and how you don’t want to eliminate it, but you do at times want to control it to get the best out of you. Can you just talk about that process and how Adam Hayes, your caddie, has also been part of that process on the course as rounds go on?
JON RAHM: Well, Adam has the hardest job in that sense because obviously it’s very easy to see when somebody might be losing it and to say something, but you’ve got to be effective how you’re saying it because otherwise it could either go worse, you never know and you’re just not hearing what he’s saying. He’s been really good about that and getting me refocused for the most part. He’s been a great asset to my game.

I mean, he has full permission to tell me whatever he wants at any time. It’s as simple as that. I told him, I want honesty between us, so I will tell him if something is on my mind and he will tell me if something is on his mind and he has in the past and he has on the golf course. It happened at Riviera last year where on the 4th hole I hit a chip, and I was just — I was talking to him and I was just complaining to him, like I’m hitting good shots and I’m not getting rewarded, I was just deflecting, like sometimes I do. And he looked straight at me, and he said, Buddy, let’s just be honest, that was a terrible chip. And I was like, oh, so you didn’t buy the lie, okay, never mind. You’re right, it was a terrible chip. He kind of got me refocused and keep on going. So he does have a hard job in that sense, but he’s said the right things almost all the time. And also, when it comes to the development of somebody, I mean, I’m not there yet but it’s a constant work in progress. I’m spoken before, even in my amateur days, that just that willingness to compete and to want to do the best I can, it’s helped me out. It hasn’t been detrimental to my game until I was a pro and there was cameras on me, so that’s why it never really changed that much because it made me play better.

Now, when there’s repercussions like there is now as a pro, it’s a work in progress. I’ve been working on it really, really hard since 2014, and it’s a process.

Again, it got better in college but then the magnitude of where we were playing, I basically went from playing college events to being top 10 in the world in seven months. It was such a big change, the attention on me, it was hard to handle it. So that’s why I had some bad moments and slowly I got to No. 2 in the world, dropped quite a bit, and then I’m back in a little bit better form just because it’s a work in progress, and you learn from experiences. I’m really good at learning basically when I mess up. That’s the best learning opportunities, and I think everybody should take advantage of those. There’s no good times and successes without the bad times. Again, sometimes you need to take one or two steps back to be able to lean forward a little bit more.

Q. You’ve heard a lot of players say that once they get that first major, that that somehow can take a little bit of a burden off of them. You’re playing with two players this week that, once they won that first major, just seems like it erupted into two and three more majors. Could you see that scenario happening for you once you get that first one?
JON RAHM: I mean, it would be really foolish to say no. I’ll say that right now. Yeah, I do see it. I do know I have the talent and the skills to do it. It’s just a matter of doing it. It’s as simple as that. I mean, Brooks has shown, he says, you’ve got to show up that week and do it. You never know. Rory got on a run in 2014 where he won two in a row. There’s just moments or times where players get in runs and get close. I mean, Vijay, late ’90s, early 2000s, obviously he did a lot more than just win majors, but it’s examples of where it can just happen. Look at Phil when he won his first Masters in 2004 and between 2004 and 2008 basically he was contending in every single major he played at. And not that he didn’t content before but just that one win kind of got him going big time. You know, Rory — Brooks obviously being the most recent example, it’s happened to a lot of people. Jordan Spieth, as well. It went from losing the Masters to winning three majors in the next few years. It can happen, and if it’s going to happen, I’m looking forward to it. Obviously it would be amazing to be the fourth Spaniard to win a major. I can’t lie. I mean, it would be amazing. Hopefully I become — I get that dream into reality.

Q. Any preference for which one you would want to be the launching pad, which major you would win?
JON RAHM: Listen, I’m not going to be that picky.

Now, I can make an argument for each one. As a European I would love to win the Claret Jug. Obviously the Masters is very special for anyone, especially Spanish people. There’s something over there for Spanish players. But being a little bit greedy, it would be amazing or let’s just say, dreaming a little bit more, it would be amazing to be the first player from Spain to win a U.S. Open or a PGA. That’s something, if I get to do it, then nobody will be able to take away from me, it will be there forever. I’ve always said I would like to leave my name in the history of the game in whatever mode it is. To do that, Spanish history would be the only one, so far, because it could happen, you never know, Sergio is still playing great golf and many other players that could win. It would be amazing.

Again, I’m not going to be picky in that sense. I hope I win one, but that’s just — I could make an argument for either one of them.

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

March 11, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team Spain

PGA Tour: Jon Rahm Talks About Potentially Being Number One in The OWGR Prior to The Waste Management Phoenix Open

PGA Professional Jon Rahm speaks to the media ahead of the start of the Waste Management Phoenix Open about potentially becoming the worlds number one ranked golfer with a victory.

PGA Tour: Jon Rahm talks to the media ahead of the Waste Management Phoenix Open

THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Jon Rahm to the interview room here at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. This is a bit of a home game for you. You went to ASU, still live here. What’s it like to be playing at home this week and be back here playing in Phoenix.

JON RAHM: Always fun. I mean, I would say for a lot of people, I mean, I would say for me it’s probably if not the most, one of the most, one of the best atmospheres in golf. It’s unique. There’s nothing quite like it. You have more people in the pro-am day here than a lot of tournaments get all week. So that shows a lot of the fans that come to this event and how fun it is. You got the 16th hole and even though it feels like that’s just stretching, the last three holes basically feel like they’re completely enclosed. It’s just a fun event, great golf course, always in great shape, so I’m always looking forward to it, especially sleeping in my own bed. That’s always a real bonus on a week like this.

THE MODERATOR: In second last week and then won the start before that. How are you feeling about your game coming into this week?

JON RAHM: I’m feeling good. Last week was a really good week for being as uncomfortable as I was off the tee, being able to manage myself around and kind of salvage what started as a really bad day. So battled hard. I’m going to learn a lot from that experience and as simple as that. Today, it’s a new week, new tournament and just looking forward.

THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions, please.

Q. You’ve got a chance to become world No. 1 for the first time with a win this week. I wondered how much is that a motivation or how big a goal is that for you?
JON RAHM: Yeah, actually, I found that out 10 minutes ago. I had no idea. A little surprised. I mean, I have been playing really, really good golf and especially since that U.S. Open, just missed one cut, and for the better part of the tournaments I play, I pretty much I’ve had a chance to win or finish top-10. It’s been a really good stretch of golf. But, yeah, like always, as I said many times, being No. 1 in the world, it’s a consequence of good golf. So I got to take care of business this week and it’s not going to change my mindset. Obviously, it’s a goal in every player’s, I believe, mind to be No. 1 in the world, and it is a goal of mine at some point, but I still got things to do to, take care of every day and make the right putts and hit the right shots for that to really happen. So I’m just going to focus on what I have to do starting tomorrow.

Q. What would it mean to accomplish that goal here in your hometown?
JON RAHM: To be honest, I just, you know, it’s such a fun event that I really want to win, so I’m trying to focus more on that. But if I were to do both, you know, I mean, it would be really special. You don’t really get to choose where you do it but, yeah, it would be quite a unique experience to be able to share it here and knowing that I have a week off to properly celebrate it after on Sunday. But like I said, it’s a consequence of good play. It would be a consequence of me winning this week, so that’s what I got to take care of. I got to stay focused and like I said, keep hitting the ball good and make the putts and hopefully hold the trophy and be back here on Sunday and you can ask me how it feels again.

Q. Maybe I’m wrong, but does it sound like, has it ever been a goal of yours or is it — being No. 1?
JON RAHM: Of course. Of course. Yeah. It is. I mean, I wouldn’t be doing this if my goal wasn’t to be the best. It’s as simple as that. I tee it up to win every time, I practice to be the best I can be, and hopefully the best I can be takes me to No. 1 at some point.

Q. Can you talk about your memories of this event, like coming here as an amateur, and then from there to now?
JON RAHM: Well, I’ve played good pretty much every year, and the first year, obviously, being extremely different. You come here as an amateur and I tee off on 10 and from 10 to 15 all I can think of was 16. That’s probably why I was 4-over par. I could not focus whatsoever on what I was doing. I was just completely scared of 16 and getting booed. And yeah, I hit probably one of the worse pitching wedges I’ve hit in my life, made a good up-and-down, and that’s what got things going, and after that, that’s about as much fun as I’ve had on a golf course really ever, right? I mean, go from college events, some amateur events that gets some people on the golf course. I did play Mayakoba before, but it just doesn’t have room for big crowds.

And then to play here Saturday, being out there with Brandt Snedeker and Keegan Bradley and just having a big group, it was unique. And to actually have the support I had from being an ASU alumni and then every year after that it feels like the crowd has gotten to know me a little bit more and more and more. And even this year, the support I’m feeling this year, it’s quite unique. But every time I come back it’s like, I feel like it’s back to 2015 again. I feel the same way. It’s just such a joyful week for me, so much fun, and it’s great to have the home crowd support.

Q. You posted an emotional tribute to Kobe on Instagram the other day. I want to get your thoughts as the first tournament back since his passing and how it’s going to affect you going forward.
JON RAHM: Well, I tried to express my mind as much as possible in that video. I’ve told many times — not many people know this, but I’ve told some of my closest friends, I mean, I’ve been asked before if there was one person in this world that I would love to talk to, because I idolized him so much, I’ve read everything about him, seen everything about him, read his books, it would have been Kobe Bryant. And I actually have a friend who was friends with him who was, it was going to be a possibility, we were talking about possibly meeting the week of L.A. or next week. And just how much he’s impacted my life. He’s, him and Rafa Nadal are two of the people that I really lean on to try to improve my behavior and the way I’ve, I come through sometimes on the golf course and I’ve seen a lot of their stuff and how they think and how they portray themselves and it’s just so sad. I mean, and not only him, there was nine people on that helicopter. There was three teenagers that didn’t get to live full lives. There was, I think that one of the teenagers’ parents, who also have two other kids, those kids missed, are never going to see their sister and parents again. And I think there was another, an assistant coach, a mom of three, and obviously, the other people in the helicopter, right, it’s an incredible tragedy. I know a lot of people are just focusing on Kobe, and I did mention that in the video, but you can’t forget there’s many other families affected. And to me it’s just, I think a lot of us take for granted how much of a blessing it is to walk out the other side of your front door and just come back the same night. You never know what’s going to happen, you never know what could happen. And that’s why we got to live our life to the fullest. We all have an expiration date. Unfortunately, we don’t know when it is and that’s why you got to live every day like it is your last and just try to enjoy it as much as possible.

Q. You played with Michael Phelps today. Can you talk about what you think about him as an athlete and how was playing golf with him today?
JON RAHM: I would say he’s way too flexible to play golf. That’s what I can say. He is, he’s super nice. We’re members at the same golf course and we had a really fun group going on, so it was a really fun day. But when it comes to athlete, I mean, he’s the most decorated Olympian of all time. It’s crazy. And he has to be up there in the conversation with many greats of the greatest athlete of all time. What he’s done for, I mean, competing in as many Olympic teams as he’s been and to do all he’s done, I mean, I don’t know how many medals does he have? 25? 26? I know in the 20s in gold as well. It’s ridiculous. I know they have maybe more events or athletes competing, but to be at that level at every single one of those events and to be able to win every single one of the events one year, it’s absolutely mind blowing. I don’t think a lot of times people appreciate some of what these Olympians accomplish because we only hear about it every four years. But I mean, he’s, if he’s not the greatest Olympian of all time, I don’t know who is. I got to say. It’s, and he’s got to be really, really the discussion of greatest athlete of all time could not be had without him in mind. It’s unbelievable what he’s done. And it was nice to see him have fun and enjoy life. And his wife was there with the kid and it was just a fun day and it’s nice to see somebody like him just have a normal day and enjoy, if you can call a pro-am at the Phoenix Open a normal day.

Q. So with your chances of being an Olympian this year, how much of an emphasis is that?
JON RAHM: Yeah, it’s great, because I never grew up with that being a goal of mine because golf wasn’t in the Olympics. But four years ago we got enough to be introduced. And as an athlete, I know I’ve said it before, I don’t think it’s got the, maybe the validity or the level, that other sports have to have a gold medal in golf just because it’s so new, but it will get to that point. And to be an athlete to have a gold medal, I don’t think there’s anything better than that. There’s not many things that you can say that would be a better feeling than to say you have a good medal from the Olympics. You’re and Olympian and you’re a gold medalist. It’s a very select group of people that can say that in human history. So it’s, now, it’s definitely a goal and I hope it can be there in Tokyo and fight for it.

Q. You mentioned earlier your recent results and the fact that it hasn’t been a few weeks, but this is really seven or eight months in the making, going back to Pebble Beach and there was so much discussion at the end of last season focused on Brooks and Rory and the Player of the Year debate. Do you feel at all like your results and your performance recently has gotten a little loss in that shuffle?
JON RAHM: The only reason why I mention that is because I just saw it on the TV, so that’s why it’s in my mind. I would say I’ve been playing great golf for the last three years. You got Brooks winning Majors PLAYERS, WGC’s, Tournament Of Champions — sorry, TOUR Championship — you know, it’s, it’s of course they’re going to be in that conversation. I’ve just been incredibly consistent for three years and I’ve been able to win some events on the European Tour that maybe in the U.S. can be overlooked or forgotten about as well, so that’s why I’m showing my face over there right now. But it is not my job to put myself in the discussions. Like I said, my goal is to go out there and beat them all and that’s what I’m trying to do.

Q. I was told by D.J. Gregory that he was walking with you this week. I don’t know, I’m sure you know his story and all that. Just how much can that inspire you in a given round or just in general does his inspiration, how much his story inspires you?
JON RAHM: You know, it reminds me a lot of what Kobe would talk about. We all are trying to be the best version — we should be trying to be the best version of ourselves and trying to inspire others. And D.J.’s definitely doing that. I mean, a lot of people don’t even walk 18 holes and he has a hard time walking and he walks all 18 of them on every single golf course, every single week of a year, it’s unbelievable, I see him everywhere. And that’s actually, this year I asked to see if we could have him, I could help him out more than one tournament, just because I really believe in what he does. It’s quite unique and how many people he’s helping out. And, I mean, I hope I make a lot of birdies so we can donate as much as possible, because it’s a worthy cause, it’s something else to play for, which is always a nice thing. It’s, it’s, I can’t think — I’m thinking in Spanish right now — when it’s, when it’s something, like it’s a fundraising thing or you’re donating for a good cause, it’s, I mean, it’s always a special feeling. I’m lucky, I’m really lucky to be 25 years old and to do what I love for a living and luckily earn more than I need to live my life. So if I can share that with the people that can actually make a difference in this world and hopefully at some point start making my own difference in this world, I’m going to do it. So it’s nice to have somebody like DJ focusing on golf and doing what he does and hopefully, like I said, hopefully I can make a whole lot of birdies out there.

Q. One last one, on playing 16 — and Gary asked this to Justin earlier. The difference between if you play it in the spring or fall to this week and just how seismic a shift that is from when there are no grand stands to when there is and all the factors you then have to evaluate as well.
JON RAHM: Well, the grand stands and the atmosphere turn what is relatively a simple hole — I would never hit probably, unless it’s windy day, for me it would be no more than an 8-iron to the back, maybe a pitching wedge to the front if I’m feeling, particularly swinging good that day. It will be a par-3 where on any other course or even in a PGA TOUR event without the grand stands would just be average people looking or watching, you’re probably looking to at least go even par on that hole. Just because of the atmosphere and how you get full of adrenaline and how hard it is to control that sometimes, I don’t know about other people, I will take 3s all day for the rest of my career and I’ll be perfectly happy with that, honestly, play that hole even par forever, I’ll take it. Because it make it that much harder. It’s not just the fact that you’re in a semi-stadium, it’s how pumped up you are and how far you can hit the ball. I can’t believe how many times I’ve gone with, I’m going to hit an easy nine, and completely just flush it way over the pin just because you can’t control what’s going on. It’s one of the few shots in golf where I can’t hear when I make contact with the ball, just because of the noise around it and how unique it is. But it’s fun, I mean it’s one of the main reasons why probably people come here to play, just to experience that hole, and I wish there was more of it.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming in, best of luck this week.

JON RAHM: Thank you.

January 29, 2020

Scottsdale, Arizona

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Team Spain

European Tour: Sergio Garcia Speaks to Media Ahead of The Saudi International

European Tour professional Sergio Garcia speaks with the media ahead of the Saudi International about the current state of his game and his favorite memories of Kobe Bryant.

European Tour: Sergio Garcia speaks with the media before the Saudi International

Q. Just describe the quality of these events?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, they are really good I think, and they get better every year. We’re excited for this beautiful swing that we have and excited to be back here in Saudi to hopefully have an amazing week and really enjoy.

Q. What does it mean to support these events, in a new country like Saudi Arabia?
SERGIO GARCIA: I think it’s very important. At the end of the day, we are trying to globalise the game of golf as much as possible and bring it to everywhere we can. To come to new places like Saudi Arabia and some others around the world, it’s important and they want to see us play. They don’t get to do it too often, so it’s good to be a part of it.

Q. Does it bring an added ingredient in the quality of the field this week?
SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, I think we seem to get great fields these three weeks in the Middle East. That’s obviously a job well done because it’s not easy to get the quality of the players that we have week-in, week-out. Everyone should be very proud of that, and you know, it obviously makes it an even better tournament.

Q. What improvements have you seen?
SERGIO GARCIA: It definitely seem like the course, it kind of settled down a little bit. Everything seems like it’s a bit more mature, everything: The tees, the greens, everything seems like it’s less grainy and definitely faster than they were last year. It looks really good, and you know, it just comes down to us to put on a good show.

Q. In time, do you feel it can establish itself as a world-class event and venue?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s already halfway there. You know, to be able to get the quality of players that they have had the first two years, it’s not an easy thing to do. I think they are really trying hard to make it a great event, and I think it’s definitely on its way.

Q. How is your game coming into this week?
SERGIO GARCIA: Feels pretty good. I feel like the first two weeks, they have been pretty solid. Obviously a couple things here and there that, you know, beginning of the year, kind of getting used to some of the new equipment and stuff like that. But overall, I’ve seen a lot of good things. Some things that obviously need to improve on, but you know, overall, it’s been positive.

Q. What do you feel those are?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think that at the end of the day, consistency obviously needs to be a little bit better than it has been. But overall, I feel like the short game has been quite solid for both weeks. Hopefully we’ll keep — obviously we’re working hard on it and we’ll keep on that same momentum here this week. You know, it’s just a matter of kind of keep grinding and keep improving on every aspect of the game that we can.

Q. Kobe Bryant’s passing, what are your memories of him?
SERGIO GARCIA: Unfortunately I can’t recall meeting him. Obviously we’re different brands. You know, I remember watching him, so many games on TV, and the way he played. He was just an amazing basketball player. Just a great sportsman and a true legend of the game. It’s very sad for him to pass. He’s just a year and a half older than me, so it kind of putts things into perspective a little bit. You know, you feel terrible for not only his family, but the families of everyone else that was in that helicopter.

Q. Living in the States for a number of years, how influential a character was he over there?
SERGIO GARCIA: Oh, he was very influential for sure. He did so many amazing things, not only on the court, but you know, obviously off the court and even winning an Oscar.

So obviously, you know, he moved a lot of people and a lot of people were huge fans of his. So it’s a big loss, but you know, unfortunately these things happen.

Q. Being at the top of the sport as he was, did he inspire you?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I think that every time you watch a sports man like him, it does inspire you, even if it’s not in your own game. So when I watch Ronaldo or Messi or some of the greats? Football, they inspire me, and when I watch Rafa and Roger and Djokovic and all those guys in tennis, any sport that you watch, it’s inspiring to see someone at a level like that.

January 28, 2020

King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia

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Team Spain

European Tour: Sergio Garcia Revisits 2017 Omega Dubai Desert Classic Victory and Previews 2020 Edition

European and PGA Tour professional Sergio Garcia speaks with the media prior to the start of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic about his 2017 victory in Dubai and also speaks about his recent change in equipment and age being a factor or not on Tour.

European Tour: Sergio Garcia speaks with the media ahead of opening round of Dubai Desert Classic

BRIONY CARLYON: Delighted to be joined by Sergio Garcia back at the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic.


BRIONY CARLYON: Sergio, a past winner here. You obviously must have fond memories of playing in Dubai.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, definitely. Obviously it’s 2017, great year, and it all started here. Excited to be back.

Course is playing a little bit different than we’ve seen it in the past. Rough is a lot thicker. Greens are probably as firm as I’ve seen them on a Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s going to be — I think it’s going to be a strong challenge with a little bit of wind predicted for at least Thursday and Sunday. So it should be a nice test of golf for us.

BRIONY CARLYON: We know you’ve had a milestone birthday recently, but tied 8th last week in Abu Dhabi. Game is feeling in great shape to start 2020, a new decade?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it was definitely a good week to start with. I would love to have played a tiny bit better on the weekend and have a little bit better chance at winning. Overall, it was consistent. You know, four rounds under par, and so that’s always a positive. You know, to start with a Top-10, it’s always a nice thing.

We’ll try to keep building on that, have another good week here, and go on to Saudi and hopefully have another one, another good one there and then head to the States.

Q. You were trying out some PING clubs I think last week. How did that work out for you? How did you feel with the clubs that you had in the bag last week?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I wasn’t trying them last week; I’ve tried them before last week.

Yeah, it was the first tournament with them. They felt good. They felt nice. They felt nice when I was doing the testing and when I was practicing back at home.

So you know, I’m pretty happy with them. I’m excited about the equipment that I have in my hands, and you know, hopefully I can build on some good confidence, and that’s pretty much, you know, what I have to do now, just keep on building good confidence, have some good thoughts out there, commit to what I want to do as much as possible and hopefully we’ll have a lot of good weeks this year.

Q. Lee winning last week, and you’ve been on the tour now for almost two decades now, what is it that keeps you guys going? When you look across on the other side of the Atlantic, there’s a whole bunch of young stars. What is it like people that you can push yourself and keep going year after year?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, first of all we believe in ourselves. We believe that we’re good enough. I feel like we show it pretty much week-in, week-out. Like you said, it gets tougher every year because there’s a lot of good youngsters coming out both in Europe and on the PGA Tour.

But you know, we can still go out there and perform well. So we are competitors and we love to compete and challenge ourselves, and that’s what we try to do.

Q. Do you still get the same sense of excitement and drive and motivation coming out in a new season as you did all those years ago? Does it still feel the same?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, for sure. Without a doubt. You get a little bit nervous here and there, which is great, and you feel it. Those are the things why you put the hours in and you work for and try to get better every time.

We know it’s not easy as you keep adding on numbers to your ID, but we go out there and we practice hard and we try to stay fit and play the best we can.

Q. I read you got the second-longest streak in the world’s Top-100 going, over 20 years now. How proud are you now of that sort of longevity, and how much weight do you put on your World Ranking? Does it motivate you to go higher?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, anyone about it. A friend of mine sent it to me a couple of weeks ago. It is nice to be able to do that. I think that fortunately for me, I have two or three nice streak going on with majors in a row played and what you were saying with World Rankings and Ryder Cup record and all those things.

It is really nice to be able to kind of make a little bit of history here there and. So I think that you know, it’s not the ultimate goal, but that’s kind of what we work for because that shows you the ability that we have, and what we can achieve. The goal is to keep adding on to that, keep playing well and keep myself on that streak obviously.

I think that, yeah, I love to have a really good start to the year and get my World Ranking back to at least Top-20 in the world, which is a bit more comfortable than where I am now. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that fairly soon.

Q. How often do you think about the win here — because until then, you were always the guy who didn’t quite win a major and didn’t close the deal. But since then, are the memories in the back of your mind?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, without a doubt, I’m not going to lie to you, it does pop up in my head. You know, it’s my biggest individual win of my career, so obviously it is going to pop up here and there. It’s fun to remember it. It’s great to be a part of it, and you know, the only thing I can do is keep working to add on to that memory. That’s the goal and that’s what I’m going to try to do.

It’s not easy, but it’s obviously possible and that’s what I’m driving to.

Q. That’s one major you can keep going back and keep playing regardless, however old you are, you can go and play. How much does that excite you knowing that you’ll always be there?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it’s good fun. It’s obviously something amazing and it’s something that you don’t have to worry about anymore. It’s a fun week. It’s exciting, not only for myself, but for family and friends when they come, and everyone that’s watching and all the Patrons and everything. It’s always a really amazing feeling to know that you are going to be there. Obviously regardless of health issues or anything else going on, you’re going to be there playing that amazing championship and that amazing golf course.

Q. Someone whose a fan of this golf course, I know it’s setup slightly differently this week, but talk about what make this is a great golf course and what in your opinion in general terms is the key to doing well here?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it’s a kind of golf course that I enjoy because targets are small, fairways are narrow, greens are fairly small on average. You know, if your game is on, you feel like you’re giving yourself a lot of birdie chances every time. It’s not like you have a lot of, you know, 50- or 60-footers like on some of the courses you might do.

So you know, usually is in great shape, just like this year. So set for a good championship.

BRIONY CARLYON: All the best for this week, thank you.

January 21, 2020

Dubai, UAE

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Team Spain

European Tour: Sergio Garcia Talks Round 1 of Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

PGA Tour professional and Masters champion Sergio Garcia speaks to the media following the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship about playing in the dessert and his recent equipment change

PGA Tour: Sergio Garcia recaps opening round of Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Q. Slight disappointment, the only bogey you make on last hole, but overall a round of 67, how pleased with your day’s work?
SERGIO GARCIA: I’m very pleased. Obviously putted nicely. Felt like I hit the ball quite well. So drove the ball fairly well for the most part. Yeah, just a little unfortunate on the last that that pitch bounced on that pitchmark and just died.

Other than that, I thought I did well. I made a couple really good saves here and there when I needed them, and you know, made some birdies where I had to.

Sergio Garcia talks equipment change:

Q. Tell us about the new equipment, why you made the change and how it feels?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it’s quite simple. Obviously we were with Callaway. Unfortunately I wasn’t comfortable enough with the golf ball, and they needed me to play it. You know, we decided to kind of part ways. Nicely, though, so there was no bad feelings from any part or any side which was great, and then I just started playing whatever I tested this Christmas, what kind of felt best for me.

It was quite good today, so I’m happy with it.

Q. You have a wonderful record in the desert; what is it about this style of golf that seems to bring out the best in you?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don’t know. I can’t put my hand on it or I can’t tell you exactly why, but I’ve always enjoyed the desert. It feels like you can hit different kind of shots. Usually I’m fairly good in the wind, and usually it gets a little breezy here, so that kind of helps me game a little bit, and I was happy to see a nice start for the year.

Q. 5-under, what’s your analysis on today’s performance?
SERGIO GARCIA: It was a very solid day. Obviously I would love to par the last but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Other than that, I felt like I played pretty solid. Hit a good amount of shots, good, solid shots, a couple here and there that I didn’t quite commit as well as I should have. But other than that, you know, putted nicely. Chipped quite nicely other than the bad bounce on the last but it was a good day.

Q. With the new sticks, everything will feel different. How comfortable are you at the moment?
SERGIO GARCIA: I’m fairly comfortable. I had some good practice sessions throughout Christmas and New Year’s. So you know, it’s been feeling quite well. It’s just a matter of kind of getting a bit more used to it as the year goes on, but for the most part, you know, it feels quite good and I’m happy the way it went today.

Q. Conditions as you would have teed off, as you made the turn, things would have changed more with the climate and sun coming up. How much did you have to accommodate for that?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, a little bit. The ball started going a little bit farther as we made the turn and everything started getting drier and a little bit of a breeze coming up. You had to pay attention to that but nothing that we are not used to and we haven’t done before. It was a pretty nice day.

Abu Dhabi, UAE

January 16, 2020

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