Tuesday, 09 April 2019
Jon Rahm  (Getty Images)
Jon Rahm (Getty Images)

Jon Rahm is eager to continue the illustrious Spanish tradition at Augusta National Golf Club when he tees it up in his third Masters Tournament this week.

The 24 year old had been a professional less than 12 months when he finished in the top 30 here in 2017, as countryman Sergio Garcia won the Green Jacket on what would have been the 60th birthday of the great Seve Ballesteros.

Ballesteros had been the first European winner of the Masters in 1980 and he won it again in 1983, with José María Olazábal following in his footsteps in 1994 and 1999.

Rahm was in the top five last season as he threatened to become the fourth Spaniard to win the year's opening Major, and speaking to the media on Ballesteros' birthday, he acknowledged he was treading the path of giants.

"It's something I think about often as a positive," he said. "Two of the three are from northern Spain, so I would say we have some similarities in that sense, and it's a special year, too.

"It's Olazábal's 25th anniversary since his first win and 20th anniversary since his second win. It's something to remember. Two years ago, it would have been Seve's birthday that Sunday.

"So pretty much every time we play, there's going to be something very special going on at Augusta National for all of us.

"It would be something beautiful to join that list. Those are three world class players and three of the best players Europe has ever seen and three of the best players the world has ever seen, so it would be incredible to join my name to them."

Rahm is not just using his countrymen as a source of advice and inspiration, and cited Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson - with nine Green Jackets between them - as players he had learned from.

He may only be 24, but Rahm has two Rolex Series victories and a Ryder Cup win under his belt, and he believes he is becoming more accustomed to life on Tour and at Augusta.

"My first year on Tour, I didn't know what to expect," he said. "I didn't know what was going on. I wasn't familiar with the travel, the exhaustion, the competition, the mental tiredness of being in contention. I didn't know what a Major Championship week, being somewhat of a favourite, really meant.

"The first few times you come to Augusta National, emotions are on overflow, especially for somebody like me. The excitement is overboard.  It's hard to control everything that's going on. 

"Since playing here and life on Tour and playing in other tournaments, it seems a little more routine than what it used to at first. At first everything was very new and very exciting.

"I know a little bit more what to expect, a little bit, not much, because you never know what's going to happen."

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