World number six Jon Rahm believes it would be “incredible” if he could win a third Spanish Open title to match the tally of the late Seve Ballesteros.
Ballesteros won his national open in 1981, 1985 and 1995 and Rahm is a prohibitive 9/4 favourite to emulate his compatriot this week at Club de Campo in Madrid, where he successfully defended the title in 2019.
Rahm has expressed concerns about plans for the PGA Tour’s best players to face each other at least 20 times a year, but the former US Open champion has pledged to continue to support Spanish events on the DP World Tour.
“As a Spanish player it is my duty and if I can only come to one, then I will come to one,” said Rahm, who finished joint second in the BMW PGA Championship on his last start thanks to a closing 62 at Wentworth. “I will try what I can to play and to support my country.
“I am aware of the impact a player like me can have and I have seen it every time I come, so like I said, I take it upon me as a duty to be able to come and try to perform and give them four days of entertainment and something to look forward too.
“Luckily for me I have been able to put my name on that trophy a couple of times and being able to equal Seve with three wins would be incredible.
“For me, the legacy you leave is very important. With the tournament’s ties with the RFEG (Spanish Golf Federation), being able to win it is very important for me.
“I remember when I won the Under-18 Spanish Championship at Club de Campo it was a really significant moment in my career.”
Rahm’s compatriot Rafa Cabrera Bello will defend the title he won last year by beating another Spaniard, Adri Arnaus, on the first play-off hole to complete a remarkable return to form after claiming just one worldwide top 10 in 2021.
Cabrera saw his two-shot lead disappear with a double bogey on the first hole of the final round, but recovered to force a play-off thanks to a superb sand save for par on the 18th, before making a birdie on the first extra hole.
“It was very special,” he said. “It was clearly a tournament that was on my bucket list.
“I got here last year and I was a little bit lost with my game, not really understanding where the golf ball wanted to go and somehow I managed to gain that confidence and to feel competitive again that week.
“It was just an amazing week, the way it all happened and the rollercoaster that was that 72nd hole and the play-off. After the tee shot, it looked lost and then I managed to make an amazing par save to get into the play-off, so to birdie the first hole and to win it, it was a dream come true.
“This is not my quote because I think Seve (Ballesteros) said this, but I think that some tournaments you win with skill, some tournaments you win with your heart, and I felt like this tournament last year I won with my heart.”