Only one year and one week ago, Spain’s Jon Rahm made his professional debut at the Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour. He opened with a 64 at Congressional and tied for third, earning a spot in the British Open and putting him on the fast track to earning a PGA Tour card.
The renewal is this week but Rahm is in Paris for the French Open. On the American side of the Atlantic, it raises the question of whether young players who receive sponsor exemptions fresh out of college owe it to the tournaments to return the favour by playing after they have established themselves. Rahm already is No 11 in the world. He also has special circumstances, achieving so much so quickly he has scheduling issues he might not have expected.
The 22-year-old Spaniard wants to play on the European Tour and play in the Ryder Cup, which next year is at Le Golf National, home of the French Open.
“I didn’t have the luxury to have long-term goals at that point,” Rahm said yesterday as he looked back on his anniversary of turning pro. “So I really had my mindset in the next six events I was able to play. I knew I had to play my best golf possible. They were really good events and I had to get a minimum amount of money to be able to get my tour card. I didn’t know my first event I was going to play that good.”
The World Number 11 will play his first event on European soil since becoming a European Tour member as a world class field assembles in France to do battle at continental Europe’s oldest national open. After joining the European Tour earlier this year, Rahm sits third in the Race to Dubai rankings following top-five finishes at the WGC-Mexico Championship and WGC- Dell Technologies Match Play in March.
Rahm returns to Le Golf National for the first time since appearing at the European Young Masters as a teenager in 2009, and he sang the praises of the course.
“I’d like to say my journey on The European Tour started in Mexico, although it is the first time I’m playing a European Tour event in Europe. I’m obviously very excited for many possible reasons. This is probably one of the best golf courses I’ve ever played. I played it when I was 14, 15 years old in the European Young Masters in 2009 and it’s changed quite a bit since then, and so have I, so I really wanted to come back.
“Being one of the Rolex Series events, being one of the most important events of the year, I wanted to come here and hopefully show my support and try and play as best as I can. It’s obviously a eautiful course. It’s a great design. It’s challenging in every aspect. You do hit almost every single club in the bag and courses that make you do that are really fun to play. I mean, I can’t think of anything bad to say about the golf course. It really is amazing.”
This week’s venue will also play host to the 2018 Ryder Cup and Rahm has his sights set on being in Thomas Bjørn’s European Team for next year’s contest.
He said: “Hopefully I can keep my game up and hopefully I will be able to represent Europe, my first Ryder Cup in Europe in a great city and so close to Spain where hopefully I’ll be able to get some support. I really can’t describe how it will feel but I know it will be a pretty amazing feeling. I’m excited to try to play my best golf to make that dream come true.”
On his criss-crossing the Atlantic, Rahm said: “Once I hit January and I won at Torrey Pines, everything changed again. I got into all the WGCs and majors, so I had to reschedule everything around those tournaments. And luckily for me, winning that opened up the possibility of being able to join the European Tour and play here in Europe.”
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