Jon Rahm won't leave fiery personality in past as he aims to emulate Ballesteros' Irish Open heroics
It speaks volumes about Jon Rahm that his mental coach was once a bomb disposal expert for the Basque police for 14 years when ETA were at their height.
But whatever you think about the big Basque golfer’s volcanic personality, it’s a quality that links him with the man he’d love to take a giant step towards emulating this summer.
Seve Ballesteros didn’t just win three Opens and two Masters, he won the Irish Open three times in four years between 1983 and 1986 and Rahm has made no secret of the fact that he wants to successfully defend the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open title he won in Portstewart last year.
His propensity for emotional outbursts is a quality that shows he’s made from the same volcanic material as his idol. But it’s harnessing that power that his mental coach Joseba del Carmen believes is the key to success.
Rather than trying to defuse Rahm, he believes his role is to “channel” the frustration to improve his performance.
“Your emotions are basic,” De Carmen said after Rahm (23) finished fourth behind Patrick Reed in The Masters. “Your emotions are your radar... a GPS that tells you which way you have to go. The more you try to contain them, the more damage you do.
“We can’t forget who we are or where we’ve come from. Rahm is different, like Seve.”
His latest emotional blow-up came in the final round of the Open de France last Sunday when a trigger-happy photographer caused him to slice his teeshot on the 12th.
The World No.4 ended up making a triple-bogey seven, finishing three shots behind winner Alexander Noren.
But when asked about his emotional stability in Ballyliffin yesterday, he argued that he was not going to change now.
“I’m not going to change who I am,” he said. “It’s not like I have anger problems. Who doesn’t get frustrated playing this game? It’s just how it is.
Rahm will have to wait another fortnight to challenge for his first Major at Carnoustie, but he believes he has the game to take a step closer to Ballesteros’ Irish Open record in Ballyliffin.
“It’s one of the most beautiful golf courses I’ve ever played, truly,” he said. “It’s absolutely stunning. The views from the 14th tee and the seventh tee are probably some of the prettiest sights you’ll get in golf.”
Beauty aside, he sees keeping the ball on the fairway as the biggest challenge on what Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington have described as a huge strategic test.
“Of the Spanish players, Seve is the only one who has won it three times,” said Rahm. “So if I could join the likes of him, that would be amazing.”