February 17, 2019
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Jon Rahm: No one has more passion for golf than I do

Scottsdale, Arizona, Nov 10 (efe-epa).- Spanish golfer Jon Rahm, who has been ranked in the world's top 10 since mid-2017, celebrates his 24th birthday on Saturday. A native of the northern Spanish town of Barrika, Rahm played college golf at Arizona State University and currently lives in Arizona. In an exclusive, in-depth interview with Agencia EFE, Spain's international news agency, he talks about his career, his fiancee and managing his fiery temper.

- How did you become passionate about golf?

I started at age seven. My parents would pick me up at daycare and they would go to a golf class. I remember seeing them hitting balls while I was having a snack. I was a restless kid who played all different sports. I tried to give it a go, and that's how I got started.

I liked golf from the beginning. It's a little frustrating because when you're young it's easy to kick (a soccer ball), shoot a basketball ... Golf is tough, it takes time.

(But) my dad taught me a lesson about life: if you put in the effort and devote time and interest you'll be good in anything you do. I've always put in a lot of effort and wanted to be the best golfer in the world. The lesson was that if you work hard you'll do well.

- How did you make the transition from a small school to a huge university and the hustle and bustle of the United States?

When I graduated high school (in Spain), it was a class of 40. I arrived at Arizona State and found myself with 80,000 students. My first class seemed like a movie theater - screens, microphones and me looking for the blackboard. I was the only one without a computer, there with my pencil with a pencil sharpener and an eraser.

But I've always been a person who adapts very well to any sport and any situation.

- And how have you adapted to the intensity of professional golf?

To give you an example, this Saturday, my birthday, I'll fly to Dubai and take two days to get there. On Monday, I have to do something with my sponsors, then train, play.

I play 25 tournaments a year. If you make all the cuts, that's 100 days of competitive golf a year, plus the training at home.

- What's the key to dealing with that rhythm and the loneliness that goes with it?

Jack Nicklaus said once that you have to lead a very selfish life to be a great golfer. That's why you need a great partner who understands that. Because at the end of the day all the decisions you make are related to the world of golf.

Kelley (Cahill, his fiancee) has helped me immensely since we started going out. She helped me with my diet. She likes taking care of people and doesn't let me eat ribs, hamburgers and French fries.

The best thing that could've happened to me when I got to the PGA Tour was being with her. She's my best friend, and we don't get sick of each other. When I'm playing very well, she helps me put that out of my mind. When I'm playing very poorly, she helps me put that out of my mind too.

- What situations and memories do you value the most about your career?

For me, one of the best things is that every time I've won my dad has been there or nearby.

More recently, I have very nice memories with Kelley, like when I was winning in university or my first tournament as a professional.

- On the flip side, is there a bad memory?

The (2017) US Open in Erin Hills (in Erin, Wisconsin) is a bad memory because of my behavior (when Rahm let his temper get the best of him en route to missing the cut). That was a tough week.

- How do you manage that temper now?

There's no golfer with more passion than me. No one has more love and passion for this sport and more desire to play it well. Feeling the adrenaline, the frustration, the joys is something that's fun for me. My negative experiences are very intense, but my positive experiences are equally intense.

What sport doesn't have people getting mad and expressing joy? Golf is the only sport in which (outbursts) aren't considered passion. A soccer player who gets upset has a lot of passion. A baseball player who breaks a bat (over his knee) is very passionate. In golf, passion is a problem.

- Where is Jon Rahm's golf life headed?

Starting in 2019 (the current PGA Tour season, which began last month), I hope it's a little better than last year. I've learned a lot about myself as a person and as a player. Now let's see if I can give myself a chance to win a major.

By Juan Luis Guillen

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