Back home, Rahm hopes to feed off great finish at Wentworth

(AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

By TALES AZZONI

AP Sports Writer

MADRID (AP) Jon Rahm's 62 in the final round of the BMW PGA Championship last month wasn't enough to win at Wentworth.

It did give him a much needed morale boost, though, ahead of this week's home Spanish Open and the final part of the European tour season.

Rahm said the great round at Wentworth will go a long way to giving him an edge again in a relatively "bad" year in which he felt he didn't get the breaks that went his way last season.

"That Sunday gives me a lot of confidence for this week and upcoming tournaments," Rahm said on Tuesday.

"It's been that type of a year in which I have played very well but I don't remember a year in which I've had so many 360s in putts or so many good shots that just missed the fairways or ended in difficult spots. Last year, every time I was on the first tee it seemed like I was going to shoot 8-under no matter what."

Rahm, whose only win this season came at the Mexico Open in May, had six birdies, two eagles and a bogey on his last 10 holes at Wentworth, finishing in a tie for second with Rory McIlroy, one shot behind winner Shane Lowry.

"Those last 10 holes on Sunday at Wentworth were an indication of how well I've felt about my game this year," Rahm said. "I've hit the right shots, but even when I wasn't perfect, I had that small bit of luck on my side."

He's going for a third Spanish Open title, which would tie him with Spanish great Seve Ballesteros. Ballesteros won the last of his 50 titles on the European tour at this tournament in 1995.

Rahm finished in a tie for 17th last year, when he arrived with more pressure to succeed as the world No. 1, the new U.S. Open champion, and a second-time Ryder Cup player.

It was also his first appearance back home in nearly two years, and local fans had high expectations.

"There is a little less pressure," Rahm acknowledged about this week. He's at No. 6 in the world. "It's been a `bad' year for me in terms of results, compared to before, so I'm more relaxed this time."

He said he was a lot more tired last year following the U.S. Open and the Ryder Cup, and was fresher after taking some time off.

Another home crowd favorite, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, won last year at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid in a playoff.

The only other top-30 player in Madrid this week is Tommy Fleetwood.

"Excited to play the tournament. It's got a lot of history to it," the No. 30-ranked Fleetwood said. "Golf in Spain has a special place in my heart and in a lot of people's hearts, so having the chance to come play this tournament is very cool."

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Updated October 4, 2022

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