Golf: Rahm eyes US Open history in major quest

NEW YORK (AFP) – Jon Rahm is eyeing a piece of golfing history as he aims to break his major tournament duck at the US Open starting on Thursday.

The in-form 25-year-old, who had a spell as world number one earlier this season, could become the first player from Spain to win the US Open if he triumphs at Winged Foot.

While the greats of Spanish golf have recorded multiple wins in other majors, with Seve Ballesteros, Jose-Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia sharing five Masters victories and three British Open wins between them, no Spaniard has ever prevailed in the major billed as the “toughest test in golf.”

Rahm, who tied for third place at last year’s US Open at Pebble Beach, hopes to change that this week.

“I’m not going to lie to say this; there’s always something extra special to be possibly the first Spanish player to win a US Open,” Rahm said on Tuesday (Sept 15).

“That would be amazing. So it’s a bit of an extra motivation there to play good this week and do what I have to do.”

Last year’s third place at Pebble Beach aside, Rahm has had mostly unhappy memories of the US Open.

He missed the cut at the 2018 and 2017 tournaments, but did manage a tie for 23rd as an amateur in 2016.

Rahm says the traditionally unforgiving nature of US Open makes drawing up a gameplan particularly challenging.

“It’s sort of like in boxing where Mike Tyson said everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face,” Rahm said.

“It’s the same thing here. We all have a plan, but if you hit it sideways, you got to figure it out.” Rahm, however, believes his form this season augurs well for his prospects at Winged Foot.

Since the PGA Tour resumed following the coronavirus shutdown, he was notched wins at Memorial in July and at the BMW Championship last month in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

“In the past maybe this type of golf wasn’t my bread and butter, but again, based on the two events I’ve won this year, I’m pretty much ready,” Rahm said.

“I’ve been able to dial it back when I needed to, and I’ve been able to play it properly when I needed to.

“I think I’ve always thought US Open is the type of golf course I can win on. I know my game can win on any golf course, but when you’re playing good, again, it becomes a mental challenge. I welcome those.”

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