Rested Rahm Ready to Finish Season on a High
Jon Rahm tees off in the DP World Tour Championship in third place in the Race to Dubai. That should surprise nobody, until you realise that this will be only his 13th start of the year on the European Tour, and four of those tournaments were majors. He finished ninth at The Masters, third at the US Open and 11th at The Open. He also won the Irish Open for the second time, as well as the Andalucía Masters, which was his last competitive outing.
He did not touch a club for a month as he took a well-earned rest ahead of the season-ending tournament but will be among the favourites to land the title. He is one of an elite group who can win the Race to Dubai - the others are Bernd Wiesberger, Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry and Matthew Fitzpatrick. But the others have all played far more events than the 25-year-old Spaniard.
It is hard to believe that he has only been a professional for just over three years. In that time, he has already won five European Tour titles, including the DP World Tour Championship two years ago, when he became Rookie of the Year. He has also been a member of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team in Paris last year and has been as high as second in the world rankings.
He needs to finish first or second this week to have any chance of claiming the Harry Vardon Trophy. “It's an exciting week, always,” he said. “I love Dubai, I love the golf course, I love the tournament. It's a really fun one to come and play and it's nice to actually be here and have a chance to win the Race to Dubai if I take care of business this week, which I haven't had before.
“I've had six weeks off since my last competitive round so it's a little break that I needed. I've come back from taking quite a bit of time off and just deciding to rest more than practice and travelling around the world. It's the first time I've done that in a very long time, so I really don't know how it's going to go. I'm hoping it's going to be good. I am feeling good, feeling rested and looking forward to the week. After Spain I stayed home for a week, actually, just from my event in Spain. After that, I think it was three more weeks in Arizona where I didn't even step on a golf course.
“Basically, ever since I became a good amateur in Spain, it's almost been ten straight years of non-stop. At first it was hard to let down and step away from it a little bit and then, honestly, nothing special. Just being a 20-year-old, enjoying time with my friends, enjoying time with Kelley [his fiancée]. We spend so much of our life making decisions just for me and for my golf game that it was nice just to tell her for a month straight, 'what do you want to do?' instead of what do I need to do. It was very nice to be able to do that.”
Fitzpatrick, who won this title three years ago, has also enjoyed a stellar season but, unlike Rahm, is still looking that first victory of 2019 - there would be no better place to break his duck. The Englishman has come close several times this season, with four runner-up finishes to his name.
“Technically it has been my best year in terms of world ranking points,” he said. “The only thing that's missing so far is the win, but I have a great chance to fix that this week. My game feels like it's trending sort of in the right direction. It's a shame that the year is coming to an end and there's not a major coming up soon, but it's been a good year and I feel pretty confident right now. When I first ever came here it wasn't a golf course that people thought I could do well around but it's a golf course I love. I feel like it suits my game. I have good iron play and really good putting and that's the big difference, really.”
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