Jon Rahm gave himself the perfect preparation for the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush by winning the $7 million Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the second time in three years. Now he heads into his fourth British Open trying to feed off the vibes he gets when he plays in Ireland.
“I keep saying I love this tournament,” said Rahm, who won the 2017 Irish Open. “I love this country. I love the people. I feel like I’m at home every time I come.”
The former Arizona State player was seven shots off the lead at the halfway stage at Lahinch, but played the final 36 holes in 126 shots thanks to rounds of 64 and 62. He posted a 16-under 264 to run out a two-shot winner over Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger and England’s Andy Sullivan.
“I’m excited to repeat,” Rahm said. “I think Seve (Ballesteros) was the only Spanish player to win more than one and to join my name to that Cup again, it’s special. It’s probably one of my favorite trophies that I have at home and to have another one, it’s definitely a special moment.
“I knew my game was in great form, although it didn’t show the first two days. I didn’t hole the putts and the weekend was completely the opposite. Putts were rolling in from everywhere. I felt really confident. I knew could do something and I knew I had to to do it today to have a chance.”
The 24-year-old moved to the top of the European money list thanks to picking up the $1.4 million first place check. He could still be European number one when he arrives at Royal Portrush. Not many would be surprised if lifts his first major trophy in a place he’s had previous success. Rahm won the 2017 Irish Open at nearby Portstewart.
“I’m excited because it’s in Northern Ireland so there’s going to be a lot of Irish crowds out there. I’ve got good memories because Portstewart is not too far away. I’m going to go to Portrush with a lot of good memories, a lot of good vibes and hopefully I can just keep my good golf going in Ireland.”
The World No. 11 intends to employ the same strategy in the Open that won him his first Irish title: he’s going to eat in the same restaurant every night.
“I can’t wait to go to Portrush and visit the Harbour Bistro like I did every night when I was there. I’m sure I’ll see a lot of people there again, and just enjoy the town, enjoy the week and hopefully play the best Open I’ve played so far.”
Wiesberger’s consolation besides a check for $960,000 is a place alongside Rahm in the Open Championship as one of three players in the top 10 not otherwise exempt for Royal Portrush. Robert Rock, the 54-hole leader, finished joint fourth to take the second spot, while fellow Englishman Paul Waring took the final place by tying for seventh.