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Rahm triumphs after his 'hardest Sunday'


Home win: Jon Rahm of Spain and his girlfriend Kelley Cahill with the Open de Espana trophy
Home win: Jon Rahm of Spain and his girlfriend Kelley Cahill with the Open de Espana trophy

By Phil Casey

World number four John Rahm fired a final round five-under-par 67 to win the Open de Espana in Madrid.

Rahm became the sixth Spaniard to win the tournament since it became a European Tour event in 1972, finishing two shots clear of Ireland's Paul Dunne.

It was the 23-year-old first appearance at the Open de Espana and his third victory on the European Tour.

Greystones native Dunne picked up a cheque for €166k for his efforts.

Dunne led by one shot overnight and a birdie on the 18th gave him a final-round 71 and outright second place.

Spain's Nacho Elvira had seemed well placed to challenge Rahm, but he sent his tee shot on the short 17th into the water and paid the price with a double bogey.

South African George Coetzee surged 31 places through the field to finish fourth with the best round of the day, a 63.

Rahm spoke of his "hardest Sunday" after firing a closing five-under-par 67.

"I'm just happy to play the way I did and to get it done," Rahm said after his 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.

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.

Rahm follows the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia in winning his home event.

Belfast Telegraph


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