The world’s best player Jon Rahm admits he skipped this year’s Irish Open at Mount Juliet because it wasn’t being played on a links course.
The two-time Irish Open winner, whose victories came at Portstewart in 2017 and Lahinch in 2019, instead opted to compete at this week’s Scottish Open in order to best prepare for next week’s Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. Asked if he was at the Renaissance Club to practice or if it was because the course is similar to next week’s Sandwich test, Rahm said:
“Well, in the past, I’ve played the Irish Open, and this year because it wasn’t a links golf [course], I decided to play this one. It is a better way to get prepared for The Open Championship.
“I would say Royal St. George’s is quite different to this golf course, but I haven’t been there in a long time. It’s a little trickier. This one might be a little bit longer, but for the most part, you hit a tee shot to the centre of the fairway, you won’t get one of those wayward bounces that happen the St. George’s. It’s a bit more fair but the best way that I can see to get myself prepared for next week.”
Sponsors Dubai Duty Free might sit up and take notice that the world number one would’ve likely teed up in Ireland had the host venue been links. It’s no secret that the game’s best players want links preparation ahead of the year’s final Major while it’s also no secret that Rahm loves Ireland, something he spoke about again prior to this week’s Scottish Open.
“I would say Irish people and Basque people are very similar, very, very similar, and I think they see that in me. So they kind of take me as one of them,” Rahm said, a stunning winner of last month’s US Open at Torrey Pines.
“From the first day I played in Portstewart, the support I had from the Irish crowd was very, very big, even though I was playing with Rory McIlroy, which obviously is their superstar, right, but I had a lot of support, as well. You think that, with the success I’ve had, it adds up, and I think it’s that they see a little bit of Irish in me is my guess, and I think that’s why they treat me so well and why I’ve played so well.
“I do like Irish golf. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve had a lot of fun. It’s a little bit different to some of what we play on The Open rotation and I feel like it’s a little trickier, a little quirkier. So I can’t really tell you how many blind par 3s I’ve played in my life, only one that I can think of and I think that’s something that I enjoy. I enjoy that challenge and I enjoy playing a little bit different golf.
“Like I say, it’s very refreshing when we come to this part of the world and play, and I think that’s why I’ve had success.”