To the Banner Born

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To the Banner Born

Jon Rahm / From Getty Images

At this rate, all Lahinch needs to do is open a Tapas restaurant on main street and world number 11, Jon Rahm would move in. The Spaniard returns to his home away from home this week as he looks for a third Rolex Series victory at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Rahm claimed a maiden European Tour victory at this event in 2017, the season when he burst onto the scene and also claimed another Rolex Series win in Dubai.

The Ryder Cup hero has often told of his affection for Ireland and his golf seems to be a reflection of that, with a top five last season and just one round above the 60s in two events.

His native Spain will always understandably be Rahm’s favourite place to play golf but his enthusiasm for Ireland was clear for all to see as he faced the massed press corps at Lahinch Golf Club.

“I’m confident,” he said. “The Irish Open is one of the few, if not the only one that I feel almost as comfortable as the support that I had last week in Valderrama and the Spanish Open.

“I don’t know why, it might be my love for the country of Ireland, but it’s something that I feel like the support is here. The support is amazing. Every time I come, I’m just comfortable. It’s a great feel.”

Rahm has flourished in a recent tough test of golf, finishing third at the U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links and then second at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation at Real Club Valderrama.

That form has rightly given the 24-year-old a good feeling entering this week and he believes he has the game to win a fourth European Tour title.

“My golf game feels pretty good,” he said. “To finish top three and top two, that doesn’t happen really often in tournaments. It’s two very difficult golf courses and that’s why I was comfortable in Valderrama. I just had the same mindset.

“I believe here, we might be able to go a little bit lower. It all depends on the wind we get but who knows? If it starts blowing hard, single digits could win it. But I hope I can just play as good as I have so far.

“I’m playing really good golf, second places, third places. I’ve had chances to win, I just haven’t so far. Winning’s not easy and there’s a lot of diverse winners out this year. There’s not many multiple winners.

“I hope I can win a European Tour event again. I’ve been able to do it the last few years and it would be amazing to be able to do it on both tours again. Looking forward to it and hopefully I can repeat in Ireland. That would be amazing.”

The unique challenge of Lahinch plays host this week, with many features from Old Tom Morris’ original 1894 design still present.

The course meanders along the coast and through the sand dunes with a host of blind shots on the front nine, and Rahm is looking forward to the challenge.

“I like it,” he said. “It’s unique, it’s good golf, it’s different, it’s fun – that’s why I’m excited. It’s not what I’m used to playing, it’s not what I grew up playing in Spain, it’s not what I’m playing in the States. It can only happen here so that’s what I’m excited about.”

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