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Irish Open: Even the Spanish fans would struggle to top the Irish, says Jon Rahm

Watch the winner's press conference as the love-story of champion Jon Rahm and the Irish golf supporters begins

By Gareth Hanna

Jon Rahm will be back at the Irish Open at Ballyliffin in 2018 - and very welcome he will be too.

The affection that the Irish golfing fans have for the imposing figure was evident as every shot during a convincing final round 65 was cheered vociferously.

And the feeling is mutual - as Rahm was keen to credit his victory to the 90,000 fans who came through the gates of Portstewart Golf Club over the course of the tournament.

"I haven't played the Spanish Open yet but it would be really hard for the Spanish fans to top the Irish fans this week," he said sincerely. "Even when I played with Rory, I had a massive amount of support. Even on the first tee, obviously Rory got most of the attention I got a bigger fanbase than I expected. It was really incredible. I've got to attribute a big part of my success to them.

The interview with your 2017 DDF Irish Open champion, Jon Rahm!

Posted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Sunday, July 9, 2017

"On my lows, they picked me up, on my good shots, they got more excited than I expected. It's been amazing. I really fed off that and I played the way I did, partly because of that."

And so, as he retorted with a bemused look when asked if he'd be at Ballyliffin; "Why wouldn't I?"

Rahm follows in the footsteps of fellow Spaniards Sergio Garcia and Seve Ballesteros, who have both won the Irish Open, Ballesteros on three occasions.

And doing that was an honour, particularly for his first European Tour success.

"Seve is the reason why I'm standing here today," he said. "If it wasn't for that Ryder Cup in Spain, my father would never have played golf and I wouldn't have picked it up.

"Nobody in my family did until Seve put it on the map with that Ryder Cup in 97.

"He broke so many barriers, he was told he couldn't do so many things. At my age, he was the first European to win at Augusta. At the ages of 20 and 21 he won the Open Championship. He is such a role model for all of us - all we can do is try to emulate him. There will never be another Seve but we can try to pick and choose things - not his driving, but his short-game, his character, the way he brought people together, the way he transformed golf worldwide. These are things we try to copy in small measure."

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