Spain’s favorite golfing son in back in the homeland this week and it’s a big week for the world’s No. 1 — Jon Rahm.
The Open de Espana has belonged to Rahm the last two times it was played — 2018 and 2019. There was no 2020 event — it was a COVID casualty as were a lot of European Tour events.
Rahm won in 2018 by shooting 22-under at Centro National de Golf. In 2019 he got it to 20-under at Club de Campo outside Madrid where they will gather this week to see how they match up against the world’s No. 1.
Rahm has had a couple of weeks to decompress from the thrashing the European team suffered at Whistling Straits. Rahm and partner Sergio Garcia carried most of the load the first two days then Rahm got run over by a birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie start by Scottie Scheffler in their Sunday singles match.
But this event has belonged to Rahm the past two years and if form carries the way it should, come Sunday, Rahm will join the immortal Seve Ballesteros as only the second three-time winner of this championship.
“It’s important to me, that’s why I keep coming back,” Rahm said after arriving back in his home country. “It’s coming back here that’s important. They’re very golf hungry in this country, especially after COVID (cancellations).”
Rahm has his eyes on a third straight win. “I hope to be able to get to a third. Not many (players) win the same tournament three times.”
Rahm’s there, showing his national pride when he’s probably in need of some rest. “I think I’m still tired for the year in general,” Rahm admitted.
This is his first of two straight weeks in Spain. He’ll compete next week at the Andalucia Masters at iconic Valderrama. “Valderrama is Valderrama. It would be great to get my first win there,” Rahm added.
But first things first. Rahm’s a heavy favorite to win this week. There are no other Top 10 players in the field. He’ll play the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday with fellow Ryder Cupper Bernd Wiesberger of Austria and Victor Perez of France.
Two years ago Rahm shot rounds of 66-67-63-66 — 20-under and beat fellow Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello by five shots.
“Saturday was a really good day,” Rahm said, remembering the 63.
Rahm’s obviously motivated to put his name next to Seve’s as the event’s only three-time winners. He’ll still have to earn it on the course. It’s not a stellar field by PGA Tour standards but week-to-week, they shoot low rounds on the European Tour.
Expectations for Rahm are super high. After all, he is the world’s No. 1.
He’s home and with fans back on the course, you can bet most of them will be following Rahm.
Why wouldn’t they?
On Television: The Golf Channel, Thursday, Friday 8 a.m (EDT), Saturday 7:30 a.m. (EDT), Sunday 7 a.m. (EDT)