Jon Rahm attended the media before beginning his participation in the Shell Houston Open. Barrika Golfer made the balance of the WGC Dell Match Play, especially the final against Dustin Johnson, and talked about The Masters starting next week.
Q. Jon, you talked about all the good things you’re going to take out of last week. In terms of like anything that you learned, you kind of touched on it a little bit but obviously that front-9 in the final you seemed to go through a stretch where you seemed to be fairly frustrated and brought it back.
Is that something you can learn from moving forward is to kind of how to handle that frustration when things inevitably happen on the golf course?
JON RAHM: I mean you know, I’m a very emotional person on the golf course and I like to show it just because that’s the way I am. I’ve always gotten mad and frustrated my entire life. I don’t think that was the problem.
I’ve always been able to — I’ve gotten mad at matches before and haven’t had any repercussions or any different, any change on the outcome of the match.
There really were all the things going on that I haven’t had time to think about because I am here this week and next week is kind of an important one so once we’re done with Augusta I’ll be able to — there’s video footage of everything, I’ll be able to analyze what I was going through on those holes.
Mainly things that I need to learn from exactly, for example, that first putt on 4, the missed putt on 5, that putt on 7, what was going on through my mind in those situations because there were holes like No. 6 I got a flyer out of the rough and I can’t do anything about it.
Holes like No. 3 I hit what my caddy and I thought was a perfect drive and the ball instead of bouncing left, went right into the tall grass. Things out of my control. Holes you’ll lose because it happens.
Same yeah way D.J. on of No. 8. Went through the fairway and it was a bad shot. He had no chance of hitting the green from there. Some of them are golf, certain moments are simply things that I can learn from that I might have done wrong that I haven’t done before.
Granted it was the first time I was in that situation like that and playing against the best golfer on the planet right now. Maybe I was a little anxious, little too pumped up. I really don’t know what the answer is. There’s certainly many things I can learn from.
Frustration could be one of them. I’m not saying it’s not. It’s something I’ve dealt with before. Hasn’t made me lose five holes in a row.
Q. Jon, what do you hope to gain by playing this week as you get set for next week versus what you might be able to do practicing at home or taking a few days off?
JON RAHM: Well, it’s a good question. My first year on Tour so I’m really trying to learn what I’m supposed to do, right? I’ve heard many different things of how to get ready for Augusta or any other Major and I’ve heard people playing the week before, other players not playing the week before. I’m trying to figure out what is best for me. This time I decided that I’m going to play the week before.
When I was at Farmers I played a week before. I’ve played three tournaments in a row before and I’ve always done good on the second and third one. Obviously I did pretty good on the first one, too.
I’m just trying to learn. What I didn’t want to do was fly early to Augusta and spend too much time in Augusta and give — make it more important in my mind than it already is, right?
By playing here this week the earliest I can get there Sunday night, three practice rounds and try to think of it as one more week. As simple as that.
Also my caddie told me they try to prep this course pretty similar to what Augusta is going to be like. I don’t know about the speed of the greens. There’s not much rough. Obviously they’re different.
There’s quite a few holes where there’s some room from the fairway to the hazard. It’s going to be somewhat similar and if mentally, I can get somehow ready to the Masters beforehand, you know, I think it’s worth to play this week.
Q. Did you give any thought to tweaking the schedule after making it all the way to Sunday or were you always going to play this week?
JON RAHM: I was always going to play this week. I was tired yesterday. I am tired today. That’s just things that happen, right? Luckily I’m 22 and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to get one good night and be ready to play on Thursday.
Q. If they don’t prepare this tournament in like Masters-type conditions, which they try to have it as a tune-up, would you have thought about not playing because that’s part of the appeal of this particular tournament, is that it supposedly preps you for Augusta National?
JON RAHM: As I said, I’m trying to learn what’s best for me. So, I wanted to play this week before my first Major of the year just to see what it was like.
I played two Majors last year, didn’t play the week before in any of them and sure for the British Open I think I would have benefited from playing the week before. That’s why I want to play this week.
I’m sure if I went back home I was going to want to go early and the main reason is just playing the week before to just keep it going and keep the good game going. Last week I played good. Why wouldn’t I keep that level of play up?
Q. Have you ever played Augusta National?
JON RAHM: I played twice. From Mexico City we flew in there for two rounds.
Q. Did you get anything out of there that you could compare to the 9 holes you played today?
JON RAHM: The main thing, obviously I got it’s quite a unique place. Nothing like it. What I can learn is certain spots here around the greens, so many — low areas, the ball can run out pretty far away if you’re not careful what seems to be a pretty simple miss or easy shot, if you don’t go to the right spot, much like in Augusta, the chances of making it up and down won’t be easy even if there’s no rough and the fairways are wide, you can get penalized very easily if you don’t think about it twice.
Even if it seems easy, the ball being in the rough, being able to control it when I have to be alert, what’s going on around the greens.
Q. When you turned pro last year, did you envision yourself sitting in this seat a week before the Masters going in with such momentum, even playing in the Masters this year, just the ascension you’ve had in the last five, six months is that something you saw happening right off the bat when you turned pro?
JON RAHM: Not at all. When I turned pro in June I didn’t look farther ahead than the end of Augusta. That’s the 7 tournaments I had in mind, the 7 tournaments I had to get my Tour card. Luckily, I did it earlier than that but that’s what my focus was on.
And then, you know, I try not to look too far ahead. I’m not a person that goes too far ahead or goes back in time. I try to stay in the present. I just go by probably by month.
In the fall I decided to focus on those three events I played and try to play the best as possible and after the break I focused on playing the West Coast swing and see how things went. Luckily it went very well for me so I’m able to focus now on this month or five, six weeks where we have the two that WGCs and the Masters.
To be honest right now, my mind is up until the Masters and afterward I’m taking a couple weeks off and those weeks off I figure out what I’m going to do afterwards.
That’s usually how I like to think about it, especially being my first year, you know, really want to see how I’m feeling before I make any decisions.
Q. Jon, have Phil or Bones been kind enough to share any tips with you?
JON RAHM: Couple of them. I asked Bones once on the driving range at Whispering Rock. I haven’t talked to Phil. I still hope to get a practice round with him and get some information.
I’m also playing hopefully if I can with Olazabal, who is another guy I’m pretty sure who knows a thing to two about Augusta.
Q. Yes, he does.
JON RAHM: Exactly. As I’ve said, I don’t like going too far ahead in time and I like to do it on the golf course. They tell me something about the golf course, when I can see it it will be much more easier for me to remember. If you tell me you had a putt breaks right now it will be hard to remember once I’m playing it. I hope I can play one practice round with each of them or maybe both of them, who knows.
Q. Obviously one of DJ’s strengths is power off the tee. You certainly held your own in the final with him.
Is it tough to avoid getting in a long drive contest with him especially when you can knock it, you know, pretty close to where he’s at and a few times you went past him?
JON RAHM: It’s only one hole I went past him, right, 12 (laughter)? 12. He even mishit that one. I hit the best drive I could hit.
It’s not something I get into. Obviously he’s got his qualities and I have my qualities. The moment I get too focused on what he’s doing it’s probably going to be a downfall for me on that day.
It might have happened on that front-9, who knows. I know he’s one of those players that if you start looking at what he’s doing, it’s going to be detrimental for you, if he hits it that far he’s going to miss one tee shot which most likely he’s not going to or maybe he’s going to miss this chip or this putt.
Clearly he’s not missing anything right now so I couldn’t get too hung up on what he was doing and I tried not to.
I certainly did on — from No. 8 on. Before that I really don’t remember what happened. I’m really trying. No, focusing on what he was doing was not one of my things.
Q. Did you say you not talking to Phil much because one of the things he always says, plays the week before a Major. I didn’t know if maybe that was part of influence on you.
JON RAHM: I have talked to him. There’s certainly different opinions. Tiger never played the week before, Nicklaus never played the week before. He does. I have talked to him about it.
He told me he obviously told me what he thought. His early years he did like Jack and Tiger and didn’t play the week before, didn’t do so well so then he changed and started playing the week before.
That’s what I’m trying to do, make a decision now without knowing if it’s right one or not. Maybe in the future I have to change it but I’ll certainly trying to learn from all the greatest, obviously.
Q. Do you remember how old you were when you first watched the Masters or maybe was it Seve, I don’t know, you probably weren’t born then so do you remember what year, maybe?
JON RAHM: For Seve I wasn’t born. I wasn’t born for Olaza — Olazabal was the first one. My family didn’t get into golf until I was five, six. That was on ’99, 2000.
So, I don’t think any of us saw Olazabal win the second one in ’99. Really, I think the first memory brings — comes to mind is watching — it’s ’04, ’05, watching Phil make the putts on 18 against Ernie Els and Tiger’s chip.
I don’t remember every shot but I do remember Phil making the last putt. I’m on vacation. My parents were with a group of friends. I remember watching that.
Tiger is back home, obviously, and the replay the next day. That’s my first memory of Augusta I would say. ’04 for sure at the earliest.
Q. Given your form right now, do you feel like your name belongs in the discussion of favorites for next week?
JON RAHM: That’s up to you guys. I feel like if I say it does belong it sounds a little bit arrogant. What I would say is certainly I do feel like I belong there, that I belong where I am right now and that I compete to win like I was saying before.