The Open: Jon Rahm inspired by two Irish Open wins
By Keith Jackson at Royal Portrush
Last Updated: 17/07/19 4:24pm
Jon Rahm is drawing inspiration from his two Irish Open wins, as he looks to make his major breakthrough at The Open.
Rahm proved he could navigate around a genuine links course when he roared to a handsome victory at neighbouring Portstewart in 2017, and he landed a second Irish Open title at Lahinch earlier this month to further enhance his claims to be a contender at Royal Portrush.
Despite his double success in Ireland, the fiery Spaniard has not figured at the right end of the leaderboard in his three Open appearances to date, finishing 59th at Royal Troon, 44th at Royal Birkdale, while he missed the cut at Carnoustie last year.
But he has enjoyed "great support" from the galleries each time he has played in Ireland, and he is hoping for more of the same this week.
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"If I ever have doubt, which I shouldn't, I can always remind myself that I've been able to win twice here," said Rahm. "That's the reason why I can get it done, and there are a lot of positives to take from it, and a lot of confidence in knowing that I'm more than capable to win an Open Championship, to win on a links golf course.
"The first time I played in Portstewart two years ago, the Irish crowd treated me very, very specially. I've had great support, and it's the closest I'll ever feel to playing at home, without being at home, really. That's what I think makes it so special.
"The first year I didn't expect it. I didn't expect the support. And I think Spanish people have a lot of pride about the country of Spain, and being Basque, Basque people have a lot of pride in being Basque, and especially in my city.
"I think Northern Irish people are really proud of their country and to be where they're from. I feel that's a similarity and have a similar feel."
Two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington described Rahm as one of the best drivers in the field this week, and the 24-year-old is well aware of the importance of finding the short grass from the tee at Portrush - something he did with impressive regularity at Lahinch.
"The good thing about Lahinch is that it was quite a tricky golf course, and it was similar on the shots into the green," he added. "You had to be very precise. There were not many pot bunkers around the greens for the most part but there were a lot of run-offs. The shots into the green were very, very similar.
"There were elevation changes, a side-wind for the most part and into the wind, so you really had to be precise. Unless you get unlucky in a pot bunker and get no stance, a lot of times the up-and-down is doable.
"If you go in some of those run-offs and go away from the green and have a big hill in front of and not much to work with, it's quite hard to get an up-and-down. So I think Lahinch helped out in that sense.
"And links golf, it's hard to win an Open Championship without putting the ball in the fairway. There's very few who have been able to do it, but Seve was the master at doing that. It's hard to do.
"Driving is definitely important. I like to think I'm a good driver of the golf ball, but when the conditions get difficult it's really hard to do. Again, it's what I said earlier, you have to figure out a way to put it on the fairway, no matter how."