Sport Golf

Sunday 20 January 2019

Rahm confirms Ballyliffin place to defend Irish Open

Jon Rahm following his victory at Portstewart last year. Photo: PA
Jon Rahm following his victory at Portstewart last year. Photo: PA

Brian Keogh

Spain's Jon Rahm emulated his hero Seve Ballesteros when he won the $7 million Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and his maiden European Tour title last year.

Now he's gunning to match the Santander genius again by successfully defending the Rolex Series event at Ballyliffin Golf Club's stunning Glashedy Links in Donegal from July 5-8.

The world number three clinched a six-stroke win at Portstewart last year, where he was tied for the lead with Daniel Im going into the final round but he holed out for an eagle three at the fourth before going on to close with a spectacular, seven-under 65.

"It was extremely special last year," said Rahm, who also won the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to become the first multiple Rolex Series event winner.

Confirming his return to Ireland, he added: "Not only was it my first European Tour victory, it was a Rolex Series event, and I am a Rolex ambassador, so it meant a lot in many ways.

"But it was also the first time I was leading or tied for the lead going into the final round and to perform the way I did was amazing, making a great par save on two and then holing out on four, on top of the display of golf I had after that.

"It's really easy to get comfortable and hold on to the score, but I just kept making birdies and hitting good shots and I experienced a part of myself which I didn't know I had, so it was a lot of fun."

Rahm's fourth career victory in January's Career Builder Challenge left him within touching distance of becoming just the second Spanish world number one since Ballesteros, who was the game's top player when he successfully defended the Irish Open at Portmarnock in 1986.

Irish Independent

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