Jon Rahm targeting emotional win at Valderrama

Spanish star’s family took up golf after watching 1997 Ryder Cup held at the venue

 Jon Rahm in action during the pro-am  at Valderrama ahead of the Andalucia Masters. Photograph:  Carrasco Ragel/EPA

Jon Rahm in action during the pro-am at Valderrama ahead of the Andalucia Masters. Photograph: Carrasco Ragel/EPA

 

World number one Jon Rahm is targeting an emotional win on home soil as the European Tour returns to Valderrama this week.

The Spanish venue famously became the first in continental Europe to host the Ryder Cup in 1997, an event which sparked a passion for golf in the Rahm family.

That love was passed down to Jon, who this year underlined his status at the top level by claiming his maiden Major title at the US Open.

He followed up by playing the lead role in Europe’s challenge at the Ryder Cup last month and he is keen to maintain the momentum as he arrives at the Andalucia Masters.

Rahm told the European Tour website: “It’s just a historic venue for Spanish players. I’ve mentioned numerous times how my family started playing golf because of the Ryder Cup here in 1997.

“Sergio [Garcia] has done a great job out here and many other Spanish players have played great and been able to win here as well. It would be an honour to join the list.

“Historic reasons and nostalgia make me want to win out here, plus it’s a challenge.

“Every time there is an event here, whoever wins is truly the best player that week. There is no way of hiding, you have to be the best.”

The tournament will be Rahm’s second in successive weeks in Spain after finishing in a tie for 17th at the Open de Espana in Madrid.

He had been bidding to win that event for a third time in succession but now hopes to secure Spanish glory at Valderrama, where he finished second in 2019.

He said: “There is always the following week and the following year so maybe I can get my third [there] next year and I can still get a Spanish victory on Spanish soil this week.

“I prepare for every single tournament the same and I prepare to win, simple as that. Luckily I get a little bit more support this week which can only help.”

Rahm is joined in the field this week by two of his European Ryder Cup team-mates in Bernd Wiesberger and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Rafa Cabrera Bello, who won in Madrid after a playoff, Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer are among the other notable entrants. American John Catlin is the defending champion.

Philip Reid’s lowdown

Purse: €3 million (€485,000 to the winner)
Where: Sotogrande, Spain
The course: Valderrama – 7,028 yards, par 71 – is a revered design by Robert Trent Jones which is considered one of the iconic continental European layouts. With cork trees lining the tight fairways, it is a layout which requires strategy off the tee (not just driver in hand) with the course consistently asking questions of players.
The field: World number one Jon Rahm has resisted the lure of the megabucks CJ Cup to support a tournament in Spain for the second straight week and fellow European Ryder Cup players Bernd Wiesberger and Matt Fitzpatrick are also playing.
Quote-Unquote: “Since the first time I played [Valderrama] in 2007, it has been a career goal of mine to win . . . I’ll never forget my first practice round, it was just me and a gold trolley and it was one of the most enjoyable rounds I’ve ever played” – Martin Kaymer, who was runner-up to John Catlin in last year’s tournament.
Irish in the field: Jonathan Caldwell is the lone Irishman in the field, grouped with JB Hansen and Callum Shinkwin for the opening two rounds.
Betting: Jon Rahm is the market leader at 3-1 with last week’s Spanish Open winner Rafa Cabrera Bello priced at 28-1 to make it back-to-back wins . . . defending champion John Catlin is worth an each-way look at 50s.
On TV: Live on Sky Sports Golf from 1pm

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