Jon Rahm handles expectation to clinch Open de Espana glory
World number four Rahm becomes the sixth Spaniard to win his home event.
Jon Rahm spoke of his “hardest Sunday” after firing a closing five-under-par 67 to win the Open de Espana in Madrid.
The world number four became the sixth Spaniard to win the tournament since it achieved European Tour status in 1972, finishing on 20 under overall and two shots clear of Ireland’s Paul Dunne.
And Rahm – who follows the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia in winning his home event – admitted that he found it difficult to handle the expectations placed on him.
“I’m just happy to play the way I did and to get it done,” Rahm told Sky Sports after his third European Tour victory.
“It’s probably the hardest Sunday I’ve ever had to play because the amount of crowds I was carrying.
“I saw the willingness and the feeling that everybody had to want me to win.
“They were pushing so hard and I felt that. As a golfer it’s hard to deal with the public’s emotions, so I tried to isolate myself and that’s perhaps why I didn’t play my best golf.
“I’ve been blessed to be national champion with the Spanish Golf Federation many times, European champion and world champion representing them.
“So being able to win this as a pro and do this for them and the Spanish people feels great.”
Overnight leader Dunne led by one shot heading into the final round, but Rahm stamped his mark on proceedings with birdies at the first, second and seventh holes.
The tournament was eventually decided on the short 17th as Rahm escaped with a par after almost sending his tee shot into the water, the ball just holding up in the rough.
Gutsy.— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 15, 2018
Dunne holes out on 18 to finish outright second. pic.twitter.com/gBNFkICJqL
Rahm’s closest challenger, Nacho Elvira, was not so fortunate at the 17th when he found the hazard and his hopes of a maiden victory disappeared with a double bogey five.
Moments later Rahm birdied the last to secure a third win from just 19 European Tour events, making him the third-fastest player to reach that mark.
Dunne also birdied the last to beat Elvira by one, with South Africa’s Gerry Coetzee finishing fourth a further shot back after his 63 equalled the lowest round of the week.
Spaniard Jorge Campillo and Scot Marc Warren carded closing rounds of 69 to finish at 15 under alongside Australian Brett Rumford and Swedish rookie Henric Sturehed, who picked up his first European Tour cheque.