Tuesday, 10 April 2018
Jon Rahm  (Getty Images)
Jon Rahm (Getty Images)

World Number Four Jon Rahm has his sights set on securing a first professional title on home soil when he returns to Centro Nacional de Golf for this week's Open de España.

The Barrika native used the facilities at the Madrid venue in his youth as he combined his studies and golf during an impressive amateur career which saw him crowned Spanish Golf Federation National Champion at various age-group levels.

And two-time European Tour winner Rahm, who heads to Spain fresh from finishing fourth at the Masters Tournament last week, is now hoping to join up his amateur and professional careers by adding his name to the list of Open de España winners.

The 23 year old said: "I am blessed to be able to say I am Spanish Golf Federation National Champion for the ages of under 16, 18, 21, and all ages. I think it’s four or five different categories that I am champion of and some of them a couple of times.

"I took a lot of pride in winning those championships and it's not easy. 

"To be a part of it (the Open de España) and know all the Spanish legends have won it – I would love to add my name to it. 

"To be able to link my pro and amateur career by getting this final stamp would be amazing. 

"There is no better place than somewhere like this because I spent two years of my life practising on this range and golf course, so hopefully I can get it done this week.

"It would be a special moment because this is where I developed most of my golf skills as when I was in Barrika, I could only go to the golf course a couple of times a week, but when I was here I was able to practise a lot more and meet some of my team-mates and become really good friends."

Home favourite Rahm is also dreaming of winning in the presence of his family and friends.

He added: "The pride and joy I would get to be able to win something at such a special place like this with the eyes of the Spanish Golf Federation, in Spain with the eyes of my fans here would be amazing, hopefully with a lot of family members coming out.

"I think out of the four wins I've had, my dad has been to two of them and my mum actually hasn’t been to any of them. 

There is no better place than somewhere like this because I spent two years of my life practising on this range and golf course, so hopefully I can get it done this week - Jon Rahm

"So, if I was able to win one of them in front of them as a pro it would be something amazing."

Rahm achieved his best finish at a Major Championship so far at Augusta National last week, firing a closing 69 on Sunday to end the week four shots behind winner Patrick Reed.

He added: "It was very special in the sense that it was the first time I'd played that well in a Major, especially on the weekend.

"I played really good, high-quality golf, including a 65, three rounds in the 60s and barely any bogeys in the last few holes so it was very satisfying to play like that and be in the mix, even though I think I never got closer than three shots.

"My goal was to have a chance on the Sunday and see how I would behave and how I would handle it, and I loved it.

"It was a lot more fun, it is why we play this sport, it is why we practise as much as we do and I just hope I can take all that from last week – the good play and good feelings – into this week knowing it is an event that matters a lot to me and hopefully I can play as well as I did last week."

Also back in Spain this week to defend the title he won so memorably at Valderrama in 2016 is Andrew Johnston.

The Englishman, more commonly known as 'Beef', spoke to Richard Kaufman on 'The Round' podcast to discuss that unforgettable Sunday.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1RAHM, JonESP18-20
2DUNNE, PaulIRL18-18
3ELVIRA, NachoESP18-17
4COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-16
T5WARREN, MarcSCO18-15

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