Jon Rahm delivers for Spanish fans


Spanish golf fans got exactly what they wanted in the final round of the Spanish Open: a Jon Rahm victory.

Rahm’s closing 67 gave him a 20-under-par 268 and his third European Tour title following 2017 wins in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. The World No. 4 (projected to move to No. 3 after the victory) ran out a two-shot victory over Ireland’s Paul Dunne. Spain’s Nacho Elvira finished third, three shots behind.

A former Arizona State player, Rahm earned $308,000 to move to fifth on the European money list. Dunne picked up $206,000, and Elvira won $116,000.

Rahm began the final round two shots off the lead and showed his intentions early with birdies on the first two holes.

“I knew that if I played my game I could make birdies early on, and I started with that great drive on 1 and that great second shot and started with four perfect shots,” Rahm said.

The 23-year-old was under a lot of pressure considering he was competing in his national open for the first time. He was also the highest-ranked player in the field.

“It’s been amazing,” Rahm said. “It’s truly been the hardest Sunday I’ve ever had in any tournament that I’ve won because the crowd wanted it so much and I wanted it so much. You can tell how excited everybody is. I felt that tension. I felt that stress. I felt everything magnified. They played a huge part. I came for them mainly, so I’m just glad I can win this one for the Spanish people.”

Rahm flew to the Spanish capital following a fourth-place finish in the Masters.

“It’s such a satisfying feeling,” he said. “When I made the decision to come straight from Augusta, it wouldn’t be to just show up and walk around. I wanted to win this tournament.

“I’ve been blessed to be national champion from 16 to all ages in Spain. To round my amateur and pro career together in this way and win the last one I had to win and join that prestigious list of Spanish winners, it’s hard to explain how good it feels and how satisfying it is.”

Rahm won the rookie of the year award last year and finished third on Europe’s Race to Dubai. Don’t expect him to stay in fifth place on the money list for long.

Dunne held or shared the lead for the first three rounds and entered the final day with a one-stroke advantage. A 1-under 71 just wasn’t good enough.

“Mostly my short game let me down a little bit,” Dunne said. “I hit a lot of chips that I thought were better than they were, and I just kept misjudging bounces. Some of them skidded, some of them bounced soft. And I feel like when I played for one I got the other result, so it’s a little frustrating not to be able to get anything going, not get any putts to go in.”

The former UAB player was looking for his second victory following last year’s British Masters, in which he defeated a charging Rory McIlroy by three shots after posting a final-round 61.

“I hit the ball fantastic,” he said. “I was hitting it long and straight, so I feel good going into the next few weeks . …

“I’m a little disappointed, but Spain has a great champion in Jon and I’m sure he’ll win many more of these.”

Dunne moved to 35th on the Race to Dubai as a result of his runner-up finish. Gwk

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