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Jon Rahm successfully defends Mutuactivos Open de Espana in Madrid

Rahm carded a closing 66 to finish 22 under par.

Jon Rahm defended his crown in Madrid (Tales Azzoni/AP)
Jon Rahm defended his crown in Madrid (Tales Azzoni/AP)

By Phil Casey, PA Golf Correspondent

World number five Jon Rahm became the first player to successfully defend the Mutuactivos Open de Espana title for 66 years with a commanding victory at Club de Campo in Madrid.

Rahm carded a closing 66 to finish 22 under par, five shots ahead of compatriot Rafa Cabrera Bello, with Samuel Del Val making it a Spanish 1-2-3 on 15 under.

The win gave Rahm a fifth European Tour title in just his 39th start, surpassing the record for a Spanish player set by Seve Ballesteros, who reached the milestone on his 49th appearance.

It also took Rahm above Open champion Shane Lowry on the Race to Dubai with seven tournaments remaining. Ballesteros was the last Spanish player to finish top of the money list in 1991.

“To beat Seve in something is unbelievable, one of the main figures in European golf and world golf in general,” Rahm said.

“It’s great that I’ve done it here, it’s great to beat Seve’s record with his last professional win being on this course as well.

“It’s very special to me and any time I can do anything close to what he did is unbelievable.”

Rahm began the final round with a five-shot lead following a superb 63 on Saturday and was never in danger of being caught after a brilliant approach to the par-five fourth set up an eagle from four feet.

The 24-year-old also birdied the seventh, ninth, 10th and 14th and was only denied an even bigger winning margin when Cabrera Bello birdied five of the last six holes, while he dropped a shot on the 17th.

“I’m not happy I three-putted 17, I wanted to go bogey-free, but at the end of the day I did the important thing, I was able to successfully defend it in front of the home crowd,” Rahm told Sky Sports.

“It might not be the strongest field yet but it’s always really hard for me to keep everything under control and to play the weekend that I did for them is always really fun.

“I can’t wait for next year to come back and hopefully do it three times.”

Del Val began the week ranked 1,413th in the world and will jump around 750 places on the back of his third-place finish.

“It’s been incredible,” he said after a closing 68 which left him two shots ahead of Adri Arnaus, JB Hansen and Jeff Winther. “I felt like I played much better today than yesterday.

“The score was one shot better but yesterday I was hanging on for dear life. It was a bit like a chess game, finding the right angles and the right spots.

“I was just trying to play my game. He (Rahm) had a five-shot lead, I know I wasn’t capable of getting him.

“At the end the race was for second place between Rafa and me, and he played great with five birdies on his last six holes. I’m really happy with the performance.”

PA

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