Rahm upbeat over Open chances after thrilling Irish Open victory

Rahm upbeat over Open chances after thrilling Irish Open victory

Spain’s Jon Rahm is excited about his Open Championship prospects after overturning a five-shot deficit with a brilliant 62 to claim his second Dubai Duty Free Irish Open title in three years.

Rahm fired an eagle, eight birdies and two bogeys at Lahinch to finish 16 under par, two shots clear of England’s Andy Sullivan and Bernd Wiesberger, with overnight leader Robert Rock, Eddie Pepperell and Rafa Cabrera Bello a stroke further back.

Wiesberger, Rock and Paul Waring will join Rahm in the field for the year’s final major at Royal Portrush after securing the three qualifying places on offer, Waring making a crucial birdie on the 18th to finish joint seventh and edge out former world number one Martin Kaymer.

Rahm, who stayed in Portrush when he won the 2017 Irish Open at nearby Portstewart, said: “I’m going to go to Portrush with a lot of good memories and good vibes. I’m going to have huge support from the crowd and hopefully I can keep my good golf going into Northern Ireland.

“I can’t wait to go to Portrush and visit the Harbour Bistro like I did every single night like I was there. I’m sure I’ll see a lot of people again and hopefully enjoy the week and play the best Open I’ve played so far.

“I’m going into the Open Championship with a lot of confidence. It’s the only major I haven’t had a good performance at and I want to.”

Cabrera Bello began the day a shot behind Rock but surged into a three-shot lead with three birdies in the first five holes, only to start the back nine with four bogeys in six holes as Rahm piled on the pressure.

After covering the front nine in 31, Rahm birdied the 10th and holed from 25 feet for an eagle on the 12th, before recovering from a bogey on the next with birdies on the 14th, 15th and 17th.

“I keep saying I love this tournament, I love the country, I love the people,” added Rahm, who played the last 27 holes in 14 under after a back nine of 30 in his 64 on Saturday. “I feel like I’m at home every time I come here.

“I knew I had to do something amazing today to have a chance and that eagle on 12 got me going. The difficult part was after 13. It would have been really easy to get derailed and lose focus, but luckily I had a long walk from 13 to 14 and the crowd was just being tremendous.

“When I got to the tee, I was right back in it. I hit a good tee shot, a great second shot and when I got to the green, before I even see where the ball is at, I see I’m tied for the lead. That was a huge confidence boost.

“My target was 15 under and I never thought I’d get to 16 under without a birdie on the last, but I’m definitely thrilled with the back nine.

“I think Seve (Ballesteros) is the only Spanish player to have won this event more than once so it’s very special to add my name to the trophy again.”

- Press Association

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