The Spaniard had to get the question repeated to him.
When Jon Rahm shot an opening round of 65 to finish day one of The Masters tied for the lead, on -7, he reminded reporters that he was only the third favourite to win the green jacket.
When it comes to how he is perceived by others in and around the game, Rahm’s radar is on full swivel.
The 28-year-old had four Top 10 finishes in his previous five outings at Augusta National but arrived at the famous Georgia golf course ranked No.3 in the world. Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy were ahead in the rankings, and with the bookies.
By 7:46pm on Sunday evening, Rahm was a Masters winner for the first time, a major winner for a second time and right back atop those world rankings. He started his final round two shots back from Brooks Koepka but ended up winning by four, as he stood tall while the American faltered.
In his first press conference as Masters champion, the opening question from the phalanx of reporters waiting to hear his take on an epic victory caught him by surprise.Jon Rahm is awarded the Green Jacket by 2022 Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Jon Rahm surprised by press conference question
After arriving into the press briefing to an appreciative round of applause, Jon Rahm admitted it was ‘hard to put it into words’ about his Masters triumph.
“Obviously we all dream of things like this as players, and you try to visualise what it’s going to be like and what it’s going to feel like,” he said.
“When I hit that third shot on the green, and I could tell it was close by the crowd’s reaction, just the wave of emotion of so many things just overtook me. Never thought I was going to cry by winning a golf tournament, but I got very close on that 18th hole.
“And a lot of it because of what it means to me, and to Spanish golf, right. It’s Spain’s 10th major, fourth player to win the Masters, fourth, and my second win, right, my second major win, right, it’s pretty incredible.
“And to play the way I did on Sunday, only one bogey in difficult conditions and coming in with a margin of… hard to explain. A lot of pride, and I am really proud of myself and what I did. Still really hasn’t sinked in yet. I’m looking at the scores, and I still think I have a couple more holes left to win. Can’t really say anything else. This one was for Seve [Ballesteros]. He was up there helping, and help he did.”
There were a couple of interesting quirks borne out by the Jon Rahm victory. Firstly, he was only the third ever player to win the US Open as his first major and his Masters as a second. The only to men to do that beforehand were Jack Nicklaus and Dustin Johnson.
“In addition to the Spanish accomplishment,” one reporter noted, “you’re the first European player, ever, to win a Masters and a U.S. Open.”
The reporter was seeking to turn that statement into a question when Rahm interrupted. Here is how the exchange played out:
JON RAHM: Huh?
REPORTER: Masters and U.S. Open, no other European player has done that. So can you share, finding that out, some perspective on that accomplishment?
JON RAHM: I find it hard to believe, the first one. You know, there’s… if there’s anything better than accomplishing something like this, is making history.
So the fact that you tell me that, to be the first European ever to do that, hard to explain. Out of all the accomplishments and the many great players that have come before me, to be the first to do something like that, it’s a very humbling feeling.
Thank you, by the way, because I don’t know how I would have found out.
I still can’t believe I’m the first. I don’t know what to tell you. It is a pretty good duo of majors. The U.S. Open is about as hard a test as you’re ever going to find, and, you know, I was trying to think, I was never going to win a major again unless it was at Torrey Pines. To come somewhere that… it’s not like it was that long ago, but to come somewhere where I’ve been comfortable. I kept seeing the stats, the lowest score to par out of two starts and how great I’ve done here in the past but never gave myself a chance to win. All I asked for was a chance, and I got it.
“To get that done is,” Rahm added, “I can’t help to feel anything but thankful.”
The two-time major winner was asked about his chances of completing a Grand Slam, in this calendar year, and in his career.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves! You know, there are three of them. I mean, it would be amazing. It would be great.
“Not many people have been able to do it, and to be able to finish it out and close out and do a Grand Slam would be absolutely amazing.”
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