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JON RAHM ON DEFENDING HIS MASTERS CROWN INTERVIEW – Golf News | Golf Magazine

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Q. This is your first time playing at Doral. What are you hoping to get out of this week in preparation for Augusta?

Well, I haven’t seen the course, yet. Not much I can say in that regard. I’ve seen this tournament here many times on TV, and I know how much of a challenge it can be. I think having a high-quality golf course, a high-quality challenging golf course before a major can be a great thing to get yourself ready and maybe work on some of the shots that you may need the week after like they were mentioning.

Just simply having to execute those shots in competition setting before you go to a major can be really beneficial.

Q. So we have 13 LIV players that are playing next week, last year, first, second, third, and fourth place were Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed, all LIV Golf players this year. What do you guys think the odds a LIV player winning this year?

That is a very hard question to answer. But you know, there is quite a few major champions in LIV, and there is a few that are Major Champion quality golfers. So just pure numbers, if you go with math, wouldn’t be the highest, but I’m confident that one of us can get it done this year.

Jon Rahm in acton at Jeddah

Last year it was such a strange couple of days for you guys, at one point, you were five behind Brooks, and coming back and having to play so many extra holes on Sunday. Just what do you recall from that? What’s your biggest takeaway from that victory?

I think the most you’re referring to, I think it was on 7 when they called it. I will was four back. Five minutes into the next day, I was two back. It’s very hard to say because with the stop page and all the weather, it was a very different Sunday. It was very much about dealing with the elements and going about your own business. You had to think about it’s the end of the third round and focus on finishing strong and then playing well the rest of the 18 holes, right.

So in my mind, I had to really separate those two days, put yourself in position, and then Sunday round, in the afternoon, try to get it done.

My biggest takeaway, it’s hard. I keep going back to some of the up-and-downs that I made. I mean, Phil was mentioning it. It is a golf course that where you are allowed to miss — I know he’s explaining it way too easily, in the right spots. But if you’re in certain spots you might get those up-and-downs.

There’s two moments: The up-and-down on 6 to get the lead for the first time, and the second shot on 14 from the trees, which like he explained, you have room. You still have to execute, and there’s trouble lurking everywhere. But hitting that shot to four feet and hitting that birdie putt to take the four-shot lead with two to play were the two keys to the tournament in my mind.

Jon Rahm will be back to defend his Masters title next week, but this time as a LIV golfer

Q. Rory yesterday said he doesn’t believe golf in its current state is sustainable. Do you agree with him, and do you think that the circuits need to be reunited?

I think I agree with that statement, yeah. Every time I get asked a question like this, I say the same thing. I think there’s room for both. It’s as simple as that. I think we have the opportunity to end up with an even better product for the spectators and the fans of the game, a little bit more variety doesn’t really hurt anybody. So I think — I think properly done, we can end up with a much better product that can take golf to the next level worldwide, and I’m hoping that’s what ends up happening.

Q. I think this is the first time since 2017 that you’ve played the week before Augusta. Have you changed any of your approach this week?

Is that true, ’17? The process has been the same. At the end of the day, it’s how you take advantage of the situation and how you prepare leading into this week. I actually was glad to have a tournament this week because going into Augusta defending is really the first major championship I’m depending on the venue. Being at home this week could have been a little more challenging trying to control those thoughts. But having competition, you just, you know, you’re here to do your job and it’s great practise towards next week. I think in any way, it’s going to help

Q. When you did your conference call for the Masters a couple weeks ago, you clearly had put a lot of thought into the menu. You wore a tie, which normally people don’t do that for the media. But obviously you cared a lot and I wonder if you can just speak to that and how much it has meant to you to be the Masters Champion, how much you reflect on it, and if it’s kind of weighing on you or if you’re thinking about it a lot going into next week?

I put — I wouldn’t say a lot of thought because I think for a long time I knew the idea of what menu I was going to serve if I were to win. I wanted to showcase a little of where I come from and to be fair, Chef José Andres was a lot of help but like a good head chef, he took over immediately. So you know, he did a lot of that.

But the main thing why it was so emotional was that exactly. Like one of my grandma’s dishes was going to be served at the Champions Dinner and it’s just a little bit of me and where I come from, which is similar to maybe José — Ollie and Seve, maybe not Seve, even though we grew up close to each other, there’s certain differences.

It’s just an honor to be able to do that, right. It’s a tradition unlike any other like many things that week. To be part of that select group of people that won that tournament and wear that green jacket with pride and be in charge of the menu is quite incredible. Definitely one of the highlights of the week but for some reason definitely something I’m nervous about. I have no idea why. But it does seem a little daunting having to stand up in front of that group and give a speech even though I know every single one of them has been in my position, some of them more than once. I don’t know, just seems — you’re going to be in that room with the legends of the game, still active and nonactive, and that’s something really cool to be able to say and be able to share.

Q. Have any of you guys been to Augusta this spring and if so, can you just talk about what it was like, any changes, anything, or was it just a fun round or was it more to try to learn something?

I’ve been there, yeah. I wanted to go back at least once before Masters week. I didn’t want the first time back at Augusta National to be tournament week, right. I wanted to get a lot of those emotions out of the way, and also see the golf course, see if they have done any changes. You know, pretty quickly when the score guy came out, I got a million texts saying that it was 35 yards longer. Well, we’re going to see what they added and what they changed.

It’s a bit of both, right. I’m trying to see the golf course and learn a few new things and learn what they have changed and just trying to have fun. I was able to — a member who hosted me, I was able to bring one of my best friend and share that experience with them. It was a bit of both. In my mind, it was getting to experience those emotions of being back, going to the Champions Locker Room and seeing my name up there, etc.

Compared to a year ago, how do you come into this? Do you feel fresher? Do you feel sharper? Do you feel in any way different, and do you feel different? A lot has happened to you over this year. Do you feel a different person in some ways as well?

No, I don’t feel different as a person at all. I don’t think I should, right. It’s a little different. I won a lot early on last year and then I went on a bit of a month or so where I didn’t play my best. Went to Bay Hill, played poorly. Went into Match Play, played poorly. I feel different in that sense.

At that time I knew I was capable of playing really good, right. Obviously I had done it all year but that month was a bit of a slump, which in a weird way helped going into that Masters. I was an overwhelming favoUrite, but Scottie was still more of a favourite than I was.

This year I feel like I have been playing really good golf but not over that hump of winning yet. I’m confident now, and I’m equally confident on my game pretty much any given day of the year. I think that’s how any competitor should be. But this is that difference of how I’ve been playing the last few months. I’m comfortable. A little fresher, if anything, going into these next few weeks, so looking forward to it.

 

 

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