Jon Rahm eyes second Irish Open win as he returns to defend title

Spaniard keen to emulate Seve Ballesteros' success and win tournament three times

  Jon Rahm   on the fourth tee during the pro-am event on Wednesday prior to the   Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Jon Rahm on the fourth tee during the pro-am event on Wednesday prior to the Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

 

When Jon Rahm sits down for dinner, the first item perused is usually the steaks – type, size, etc – on offer. He is a man who likes his meat; and if another man on tour, Andrew Johnston (who unfortunately had to withdraw this week), has successfully managed to nab the moniker “Beef” on the golfing circuit, the Spaniard’s own nickname of “Rahm-bo” tells you all you need to know about his physical strength.

Rahm made a promise a year ago at Portstewart that he would be back to defend his title. And here he is, not too far as the crow flies from that win when he was akin to a runaway train flattening the field and leaving all in his wake.

As the world number five, Rahm is the best ranked player in the field at this DDF Irish Open. He also comes in with form – a tied-fifth at last week’s French Open, which could have been better but for a photographer’s itchy finger on the player’s downswing that led to a triple bogey seven on the home stretch – and has targeted the achievements of his idol Seve Ballesteros as a spur to becoming a multiple champion in this tournament.

Of that heavy-fingered snapper, Rahm remarked: “I was upset. I had every right to be upset. I think we all know not to take pictures 10 feet away right on my backswing and it wasn’t one, it was a sequence.”

Temperament

But there won’t be any taming of his temperament. As he put it, “I’m not going to change who I am. It’s not like I have anger problems. It’s just, I mean, who doesn’t get frustrated playing this game, right? It’s just how it is. I think everybody would have been upset in that situation. I do get mad, but move on. That’s how it is. It’s golf. There will be a next shot and try to hit the next shot you can afterwards. That’s all we can do.” And that’s what he’ll look to do in taking another step towards emulating Ballesteros’ feat in this tournament.

Ballesteros won the Irish Open three times in his career, and Rahm’s victory made him the fourth Spaniard to lift the famous crystal trophy to join a club that also includes Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia. But it is Ballesteros who set the benchmark that Rahm would one day like to emulate and maybe surpass, which is good news for Irish Opens going forward.

Special win

“To win last year, it was a very special win; the most important one is because it was my first European Tour win. To be in the history of Spanish players related to that win, it’s a rich history of Spanish players winning. It’s a great honour to join that list and hopefully keep coming back and become a multiple champion like Seve was.”

He added: “It’s a very prestigious event, not just because it’s a longstanding event, but what the game of golf represents to this country and as defending champion I know how much it means and I know how well it feels to be a champion here. It’s definitely a goal of mine that hopefully at some point I can win it again.”

Rahm has two wins already on his ever-expanding CV of wins so far this season – the CareerBuilders championship on the PGA Tour, his own Spanish Open on the European Tour – and, with a game that combines power and imagination, he has his sights set on more.

THURSDAY
(Irish and British unless stated)
FIRST TEE - MORNING
07:30
Mark Foster, Pedro Oriol (Esp), Ashun Wu (Chn)
07:40 David Drysdale, Jens Dantorp (Swe), James Morrison
07:50 Chris Hanson, Grégory Havret (Fra), Henric Sturehed (Swe)
08:00 Adrien Saddier (Fra), Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha), Ashley Chesters 08:10 Matthew Baldwin, Andrea Pavan (Ita), Benjamin Hebert (Fra)
08:20 Laurie Canter, David Horsey, Robert Rock
08:30 Stephen Gallacher, Jason Scrivener (Aus), Oliver Fisher
08:40 Marcus Fraser (Aus), Steven Brown, Nino Bertasio (Ita)
08:50 Peter Hanson (Swe), Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Scott Hend (Aus)
09:00 Soomin Lee (Kor), Brandon Stone (Rsa), Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa)
09:10 Ricardo Gouveia (Por), Sam Horsfield, Wade Ormsby (Aus)
09:20 Nico Geyger (Chi), Renato Paratore (Ita), Charlie Ford (Eng)
09:30 Ruaidhrí McGee, Jason Norris (Aus), Marc Warren

AFTERNOON
12:30
Marcel Siem (Ger), Paul Waring, Richard Sterne (Rsa)
12:40 Pablo Larrazábal (Esp), Thomas Detry (Bel), Lee Slattery
12:50 Austin Connelly (Can), Dean Burmester (RSA), Gavin Moynihan
13:00
Peter Uihlein (USA), Julian Suri (USA), Haotong Li (Chn)
13:10 Paul Dunne, Alexander Levy (Fra), Matt Wallace
13:20 Matthew Fitzpatrick, Thorbjørn Olesen (Den), Rory McIlroy
13:30
Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood, Thomas Pieters (Bel)
13:40 Robert Karlsson (Swe), Russell Knox, Alexander Björk (Swe)
13:50 Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjørn (Den), Danny Willett
14:00 David Howell, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Paul McGinley
14:10
SSP Chawrasia (Ind), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño (Esp), George Coetzee (Rsa)
14:20 Scott Fernandez (Esp), Richie Ramsay, Hideto Tanihara (Jpn)
14:30 Zander Lombard (Rsa), Felipe Aguilar (Chi), Raphaël Jacquelin (Fra)

10TH TEE
MORNING
07:30
Ryan Evans, Fabrizio Zanotti (Par), Marcus Kinhult (Swe)
07:40 Scott Jamieson, Brett Rumford (Aus), Matthew Southgate
07:50 Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Ryan Fox (Nzl), Jorge Campillo (Esp)
08:00 Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn), Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Adrian Otaegui (Esp)
08:10 Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Dylan Frittelli (Rsa), Andy Sullivan
08:20 Graeme McDowell, Jon Rahm (Esp), Rafa Cabrera Bello (Esp)
08:30 Pádraig Harrington, Chris Wood, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)
08:40 Jamie Donaldson, Eddie Pepperell, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den)
08:50 Søren Kjeldsen (Den), Jordan Smith, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind)
09:00 Carlos Pigem (Esp), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Jinho Choi (Kor)
09:10 Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa), Alvaro Quiros (Esp)
09:20 Bradley Neil, Cian McNamara, Simon Thornton
09:30
Gavin Green (Mas), David Lipsky (USA), Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra)

AFTERNOON
12:30
Daniel Brooks, Sébastien Gros (Fra), Cormac Sharvin
12:40
Oliver Farr, Jeff Winther (Den), Neil O’Briain
12:50
Richard Bland, Andrew Dodt (Aus), Joakim Lagergren (Swe)
13:00 Andres Romero (Arg), Grégory Bourdy (Fra), Jeunghun Wang (Kor)
13:10 Romain Wattel (Fra), Lasse Jensen (Den), Chris Paisley
13:20 Matthew Nixon, Darren Fichardt (Rsa), Nacho Elvira (Esp)
13:30 Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Bradley Dredge, Matteo Manassero (Ita)
13:40 Daniel Im (USA), Trevor Immelman (Rsa), Justin Walters (Rsa)
13:50 Connor Syme, Adam Bland (Aus), Callum Shinkwin
14:00 Clément Sordet (Fra), Sam Brazel (Aus), Colm Moriarty
14:10
Rak hyun Cho (Kor), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Haydn Porteous (Rsa)
14:20 Chase Koepka (USA), Matthias Schwab (Aut), Julien Guerrier (Fra)
14:30 Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Aaron Rai

FRIDAY
1ST TEE
MORNING
07:30
Daniel Brooks, Sébastien Gros (Fra), Cormac Sharvin
07:40
Oliver Farr, Jeff Winther (Den), Neil O’Briain
07:50
Richard Bland, Andrew Dodt (Aus), Joakim Lagergren (Swe)
08:00 Andres Romero (Arg), Grégory Bourdy (Fra), Jeunghun Wang (Kor)
08:10 Romain Wattel (Fra), Lasse Jensen (Den), Chris Paisley
08:20 Matthew Nixon, Darren Fichardt (Rsa), Nacho Elvira (Esp)
08:30 Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Bradley Dredge, Matteo Manassero (Ita)
08:40 Daniel Im (USA), Trevor Immelman (Rsa), Justin Walters (Rsa)
08:50 Connor Syme, Adam Bland (Aus), Callum Shinkwin
09:00 Clément Sordet (Fra), Sam Brazel (Aus), Colm Moriarty
09:10
Rak hyun Cho (Kor), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Haydn Porteous (Rsa)
09:20 Chase Koepka (USA), Matthias Schwab (Aut), Julien Guerrier (Fra)
09:30 Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Aaron Rai

AFTERNOON
12:30
Ryan Evans, Fabrizio Zanotti (Par), Marcus Kinhult (Swe)
12:40 Scott Jamieson, Brett Rumford (Aus), Matthew Southgate
12:50 Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Ryan Fox (Nzl), Jorge Campillo (Esp)
13:00 Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn), Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Adrian Otaegui (Esp)
13:10 Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Dylan Frittelli (Rsa), Andy Sullivan
13:20 Graeme McDowell, Jon Rahm (Esp), Rafa Cabrera Bello (Esp)
13:30 Pádraig Harrington, Chris Wood, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)
13:40 Jamie Donaldson, Eddie Pepperell, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den)
13:50 Søren Kjeldsen (Den), Jordan Smith, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind)
14:00 Carlos Pigem (Esp), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Jinho Choi (Kor)
14:10 Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa), Alvaro Quiros (Esp)
14:20 Bradley Neil, Cian McNamara, Simon Thornton
14:30
Gavin Green (Mas), David Lipsky (USA), Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra)

10TH TEE
MORNING
07:30
Marcel Siem (Ger), Paul Waring, Richard Sterne (Rsa)
07:40 Pablo Larrazábal (Esp), Thomas Detry (Bel), Lee Slattery
07:50 Austin Connelly (Can), Dean Burmester (RSA), Gavin Moynihan
08:00
Peter Uihlein (USA), Julian Suri (USA), Haotong Li (Chn)
08:10 Paul Dunne, Alexander Levy (Fra), Matt Wallace
08:20 Matthew Fitzpatrick, Thorbjørn Olesen (Den), Rory McIlroy
08:30
Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood, Thomas Pieters (Bel)
08:40 Robert Karlsson (Swe), Russell Knox, Alexander Björk (Swe)
08:50 Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjørn (Den), Danny Willett
09:00 David Howell, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Paul McGinley
09:10
SSP Chawrasia (Ind), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño (Esp), George Coetzee (Rsa)
09:20 Scott Fernandez (Esp), Richie Ramsay, Hideto Tanihara (Jpn)
09:30 Zander Lombard (Rsa), Felipe Aguilar (Chi), Raphaël Jacquelin (Fra)

AFTERNOON
12:30
Mark Foster, Pedro Oriol (Esp), Ashun Wu (Chn)
12:40 David Drysdale, Jens Dantorp (Swe), James Morrison
12:50 Chris Hanson, Grégory Havret (Fra), Henric Sturehed (Swe)
13:00 Adrien Saddier (Fra), Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha), Ashley Chesters 13:10 Matthew Baldwin, Andrea Pavan (Ita), Benjamin Hebert (Fra)
13:20 Laurie Canter, David Horsey, Robert Rock
13:30 Stephen Gallacher, Jason Scrivener (Aus), Oliver Fisher
13:40 Marcus Fraser (Aus), Steven Brown, Nino Bertasio (Ita)
13:50 Peter Hanson (Swe), Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Scott Hend (Aus)
14:00 Soomin Lee (Kor), Brandon Stone (Rsa), Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa)
14:10 Ricardo Gouveia (Por), Sam Horsfield, Wade Ormsby (Aus)
14:20 Nico Geyger (Chi), Renato Paratore (Ita), Charlie Ford (Eng)
14:30 Ruaidhrí McGee, Jason Norris (Aus), Marc Warren

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