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Watch: Jon Rahm heaps huge praise on Irish Open fans ahead of title defence

By Gareth Hanna

Defending champion Jon Rahm just loves the Irish Open fans.

The Spaniard developed a brilliant rapport with the supporters as he won his first European Tour title at Portstewart last year.

And now that he's back to try and make it two in a row, he says the fans are being just as kind this time round.

"It's been really special because the support I get out here - even last year playing with Rory McIlroy, I never expected anybody to even know my name," he said.

"Or if they knew it, not enough to even mention it because I was playing with Rory and was playing good.  I had a great support from the fans out there.

"I don't know if it's Spanish players or just me and my character that really connects with the Irish people but it's amazing to be a champion and to be an Irish champion.

"To come back, and the respect I've got, it's absolutely mind-blowing.

"If it's not better, it's equivalent to how well I get treated in Spain, and that's hard to do, because Spanish players are cherished. It's hard to be a great player coming out of Spain.

"To come back and get the same recognition, it's absolutely amazing. Everywhere I go around here, a lot of people tell me they hope I defend my title again.

"I would probably expect everybody to want Rory or Graeme (McDowell) or Shane (Lowry) or somebody who is actually from Ireland to win but to get the same recognition is absolutely special.

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