US Open Championship 2017
Monday, June 12, 2017
BETH MAJOR: We'd like to welcome Jon Rahm into
the interview room here at the 117th U.S. Open at Erin Hills in
Very happy to welcome this afternoon, Jon Rahm, of Spain, who
is playing in his second U.S. Open. Last year he earned low amateur honors at
Oakmont Country Club, finishing tied for 23rd. He won the Farmers Insurance
Open for his first professional victory back in January. And has since that
time recorded five more top five finishes, including a runner-up finish to
Dustin Johnson in the match play a few weeks ago.
Can you give us your
first impressions of Erin Hills? I know you arrived last night and played 18
this morning. Can you give us your first impressions of the golf
JON RAHM: Well, obviously, it's real easy to see it's not the
usual U.S. Open golf course, the U.S. Open classic setup. It's more similar to
Chambers Bay. And actually I absolutely love the golf course. It's a very long
golf course, big greens, a little different to what it usually plays or last
year played. I thought it was a lot of fun.
I enjoyed the golf course a
lot. It gives you a lot of opportunities to hit the pin. You can be really
creative. And I believe it will be a really fun week.
BETH MAJOR: Can
you talk about your preparations, particularly with what you learned last year
at Oakmont, your preparations coming into the week?
JON RAHM: Well, one
of the things I did last year, I came Saturday, practiced Sunday, Monday,
Tuesday, and Wednesday. Wednesday I was ready to go, I want to tee off. I had
to wait all day Wednesday, and teed off on Thursday. I wanted to come in early
this week. I wanted to get some rest at home, work out, practice on my game.
And made sure I stayed patient, not get the anticipation built up too high.
Played 18 holes today, get a feel of the golf course, get rest and play nine
tomorrow and nine Wednesday, and after the nine holes try to get my touch around
the greens which I think will be very important.
Q. What did
you feel like your introduction to the U.S. Open last year, to open with a 76,
how you felt about that and what kind of determination, I guess, you might have
felt to finish where you did?
JON RAHM: Well, you know, I shot 6 over, I
didn't feel like it. I played great golf, and it wasn't until No. 3, I made a
triple bogey, I made a double on 4. Besides that I thought I played really good
golf. It's just it's a U.S. Open. Mistakes are going to cost you. I let my
guard down a little bit and it happened. We also had two rain delays. I was
around even par when we got to 18, got a rain delay, three-putted after the rain
delay. Then played 1 and 2, hit the tee shot on 3, rain delay, and after -- No.
3, 4, 5, those are not easy holes to play after not being able to warm up. That
cost me a little bit.
But I learned. I think I teed off a little too on
the defensive side. Tried to respect the golf course too much and not playing
as aggressive as I did. Friday I needed another par round to make the cut, and
that's what I did. I shot 1-under par. I thought I played a great U.S. Open.
In three rounds, I shot 1-over, besides the first one, my first U.S. Open is not
going to be that good. But I'm just happy to make the cut and gave myself a
chance to finish best Am.
Q. Just some of your accomplishments
this past year since playing a low Am at the last year's U.S. Open, talk about
what this year has meant to you and how far you've come in the last
JON RAHM: Well, really, I mean, it's truly amazing to me to just
look how things have changed. It's truly been one year. When the U.S. Open
finished I was getting ready to go to Congressional. I was really thinking,
well, I have six starts, hopefully I can get my seventh and maybe get my Tour
card. That's what I was thinking or maybe get my Tour card. I wasn't thinking
past Wyndham Championship.
The future was so unknown. There were so
many options depending on how I did. To see how I've accomplished my goals on
such a fast pace, faster than I thought, of course I wanted to be top 10 in the
world some day. I didn't believe I could win, give myself chances to win Golf
World championships, get into the top 10 in the same year. I thought after I
won, but it wasn't in my mind at the beginning of the year. I accomplished so
many things so far in this past year that I can't help to be proud and thankful
for the team I have, I wouldn't be able to do it without them.
said, last year it was, well, let's go to Congressional, hope everything starts
Q. What does that do for your confidence coming into?
Talking about the approach to this year, with those accomplishments under your
belt as opposed to a year ago?
JON RAHM: Well, I would say I'm a much
more experienced player. There's a lot of PGA Tour events that play really
tough conditions, maybe not exactly U.S. Open-like, but playing tough
conditions. So I think I'm maturing as a player, knowing more of my game and
being able to make smarter choices. And I'm pretty sure that's going to help.
The closest to a U.S. Open I had ever played was Nationals. And a lot of times
you make decisions in NCAA golf, a lot of times you make decisions for your
team, but not only for yourself.
I still had that college mindset that
you have to the shoot 20-under to win, and Oakmont is not going to be a place to
shoot any kind of under par really. So that's probably what's changed. I think
I've learned a lot as a player. I gained a lot of confidence. My ball striking
has improved a lot. So I hope I can keep it going.
Q. So this
is a long golf course, if the USGA really wants they can stretch it out to
almost 7700. As you approach tee shots, as you approach hitting into par-5s in
two, what are you going to use to decide how aggressive you want to be in terms
of how far you have to hit the ball, because I do have to hit the ball a long
way in order to make a good score here?
JON RAHM: Well, I believe the
wind is going to be an incredible factor. Those holes like No. 2, with no wind,
someone with my length can maybe get over a little hill and hit it close to the
green. But if there's wind involved -- sorry, you can choose to maybe go over
or maybe be more conservative and hit to the right side of the fairway. When
there's wind there's really not much choice. You're not going to get over, you
have to hit driver. That will be a big difference.
If we're talking
about par-5s, the risk-reward is something you need to think about. 14 is a
great example. If they put the tees up, there's no wind, I hit a good drive, it
might be reachable for me, but the odds of keeping that ball on the green are
very, very I slim, slim to none, because of all the slopes, how steep it is
before. You can land it on the green and just go sailing past the green and go
in the fescue grass and be in a horrible spot. You can end up in a water
hazard. Unless it's a really good number, and I feel really confident about it,
I don't think it's a hole I'll go for. Unless they put the tee box 50 yards up,
it would make it a lot easier.
The other par-5s, you have to analyze it.
A lot of times it depends on how you feel at the moment. If it's 18 and I've
been playing great all day, I've stroked my driver perfectly, well maybe I try
to make an aggressive tee shot and see from there.
I can't tell you
right now how things are going to work out because I don't even know. My caddie
and I a lot of times make decisions, and then we go to a tournament and change
the strategy completely because we feel more confident or less. Starting with
the weather, and then par-5s, based on the tee shot, and risk-reward, obviously,
you've got to see how penalizing a miss can be.
Q. You played a
practice round with Mason today, future ASU player, someone who looks up to you
a lot. What impressed you most about him and what advice did you give him as he
prepares for play his first major?
JON RAHM: Well, we talked little bit.
It was funny, because obviously he was quite nervous at first. I remember when
I played my first U.S. Open or my first PGA Tour event I was nervous, as well.
And I was talking to him and I was like, you know, Mason, you get to that first
tee, you're going to be absolutely terrified, just assuming you're going to be
terrified, it's going to be the scariest thing you've ever faced. I told him to
grip the club soft and hit it as hard as you can. Get that first swing out of
the way. Luckily for you it's a par-5.
I had a tee at No. 10 at Oakmont
where you have to hit the fairway and it's not an easy shot. You're lucky you
have a par-5 and have to hit a big swing. And also some things we all do, I
just try to see -- maybe do too much, learn too much about the golf course,
hitting shots there, here, two shots off the tee, two shots on the fairway,
chipping and putting.
I told him, listen, this is a marathon, and the
U.S. Open is is like an uphill marathon. It's going to be mentally exhausting,
it's going to be a long week. Take it easy. Play the golf course -- plan the
strategy, don't -- if you want to work on your touch, maybe do it on the
chipping green, don't play 18 holes every day, because you're going to run out
of steam when you get to Thursday. And then the main thing at U.S. Opens, be
mentally tough, stay patient.
Q. As you were practicing today
what did you make of the rough? Is it fair? Is it something that you're going
to be able to hit out of if you hit into it?
JON RAHM: You're talking the
rough that's four inches or the actual fescue grass? I didn't step in it. I'm
like there's no need to injure my wrist this week before I tee off.
really looks very penalizing. Unless you get extremely lucky where you might be
able to move it 120 yards, it looks like a 30-yard chip out to the fairway. I
mean I think we've all seen the videos on social media that Kevin Na and Rickie
Fowler and other players posted. It doesn't look easy to move out of there. It
wouldn't surprise me if someone losses a ball has to take an
Q. Did you learn anything else about the course
today, that you might not have known, anything else that you were surprised
about, positive, negative, that you're going to have to be ready for on
JON RAHM: Well, no. I feel like it's a course that, for what
I've seen online it's a little bit -- it's like a links golf course on steroids,
everything is a little bigger. What I do believe, but I think it's U.S. Open,
they expect our best. It's big greens, big slopes, you have to be able to lag
putt. With all the slopes going off the green, you might miss the green by
three feet, roll off to 30 feet and being able to putt those, or even if you
want to bump, run, chip it close, it's going to be important. We saw that at
Pinehurst. It worked out pretty well that week. And they're probably doing the
same thing, this is a different golf course and a different player. But I do
believe having that feel for low putts is very important.
Can you talk about what it meant for you to see Sergio win the
JON RAHM: Well, it was something incredible. I mean not only is
he a friend, but it was a long time coming. And for him especially. He's been
so close so many times. And I feel like two players, took a lot of majors to
win for Padraig Harrington and Tiger beat a lot of people in those majors. But
he's been so close so many times. With all the places, and all the possible
days he could have won, being Seve's birthday at Augusta, I don't think you
would ever get much more special than that for him, especially being a course
where he struggled mentally in the past. He's expressed his thoughts and to be
able to see him succeed the way he did, I thought it was absolutely incredible.
To make that par on 12 and come back with birdies on 14, eagle 15. And finish
the way he did. It was absolutely amazing. We all knew he was one of the best
in the world, more than the best ever. And I think he's proven to everybody
that he's much more than we all thought. He's always been one of my idols, one
of the people I looked up to and I think he's probably taken a lot of weight off
his shoulders. And as a Spaniard it was something amazing. I can't tell you
how happy Spain was. I wasn't there, but I think it was a huge moment, probably
since Seve won the first major. It was almost 20 years, since 1999. So I was
extremely happy for him. I can't really explain it of. It's hard to tell,
because he's such a great guy, such a good player. I can't explain how happy I
am that he was able to get it done and that I was able to be there to be able to
Q. Can you talk about how it instills confidence in
you, knowing him and seeing him break through, how it might have impacted you,
besides your joy for him, for you as a golfer?
JON RAHM: It just
motivates me. We've played together a bunch this year. I've played against him
in the match play. He's beat me many times. I've seen him play. And I see
what he can do. And I know what I'm capable of. It makes me believe that I do
think I'll be able to win a major some day. And it makes me want to work
harder. A close friend of mine winning a tournament motivates me. A Spaniard
winning a major is always going to motivate me.
Q. You said a
minute ago starting out the year, the U.S. Open last year a little too
defensive, which is probably normal for people playing the first time. When you
went to Congressional for your first tournament as a pro, did you find your way
wanting to ease your way into it or were you wanting to kill everybody right
away, literally speaking?
JON RAHM: I just wanted to play the best golf
possible. Little did I know that I was going to be leading after the first
round. Congressional has also hosted U.S. Opens, it was not an easy course, but
after the U.S. Open at Oakmont it seemed like it. I know the rough is a little
thick, but nothing compared to last week. So I got there, tried to hit every
drive as hard as possible. Luckily for me I was hitting it great, so I had a
lot of short irons in, and allowed me to be aggressive. I really didn't have
anything in mind. I just wanted to play the best possible to get my Tour
Q. At what point over the course of this one year span
did you find yourself feeling like you were expecting to win every week, wanting
to win every week? Did it come right away or did it take Torrey or what point
in the year do you think?
JON RAHM: I don't expect to win every week.
But certainly a compete to win. When I showed up at Congressional I wanted to
win. I think I also showed it on 17 when I was in the rough, one shot back of
Billy Hurley, a lot of people might have laid up or tried to give themselves a
better chance to make par, finish second or get almost all the money needed to
take the card. I wasn't thinking about the card at that point. All I had in
mind was winning the tournament. Same in Canada, when I hit the shot in 18, it
was a 5-iron. I took it right at it, I didn't hesitate. When I'm playing I
don't think of anything else than doing the best I can do to win a
Q. This is not a U.S. Open question, per se, but is
it true that when you first came over here to ASU, you didn't speak much
English? How did you get so good at English so quickly?
JON RAHM: Well,
I didn't know much English. I did make some extra effort in Spain to learn
English, but my level wasn't good enough to be able to live a life in English.
It was hard. When people talked to me it was a long process for me to translate
that sentence from English to Spanish, understand it, think what I wanted to say
and translate it from Spanish to English. It was at least a 10 to 15 second
process where I justI felt really awkward. A lot of times I responded yes or no
when the question was nothing related to yes or no. And it really was a
I mean I'll never forget my first class, I went to micro
economic principles, the class had about 365 students, the teacher was speaking
with a microphone, I could not understand a single word. The first month, yeah,
it was a little bit uphill.
Funny enough I was in business communications
and I changed to just communications, as ironic as it may sound. One of my
first classes was public speaking, and that helped me out a lot. All I had to
do was just speak in public. It was a little harder for me, but I've never been
shy to speak in public. So having to practice and all the reading I had to do
in communications and all the writing helped me out to develop my English. And
again, as weird and funny as it may sound, one of my teammates really got me
into rap music, and memorizing those lyrics helped out with enunciation and
pronunciation. Having to be able to say those words at a fast pace helped me
out a lot. I'm not kidding.
BETH MAJOR: To be fair, I think macro
economics would get a lot of blank stares from a lot of us, as
Q. You think you can do a demonstration of your
JON RAHM: There will be a lot of sensoring of the cameras if I
have to say that. I'm not good enough raper to control myself from saying the
bad words and I don't think I can do it now. I don't want to say the wrong
things. I can't control myself, it's just what I have memorized.
MAJOR: Jon, thank you so much for joining us today. Best of luck throughout the
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
#1 by #178 at 2017-06-12 19:57:00 GMT