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Rahm would 'love' to be second Spanish champion at Open, 40 years after Ballesteros triumph

By AFP
media World number eight Rahm is bidding for his first major title AFP

Jon Rahm said on Wednesday he would "love" to become the second Spaniard to win the British Open this week, 40 years on from Seve Ballesteros' first major victory at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

The late Ballesteros won the Claret Jug three times, but Spain is yet to have a second champion, with Jose Maria Olazabal twice finishing third, while Sergio Garcia is a two-time runner-up.

In-form Rahm is hoping he can be the man to end the wait, as he enters the tournament at Royal Portrush full of confidence after his Irish Open triumph at Lahinch two weeks ago.

"Obviously it's an event that's really important as a European and as a Spaniard," said the 24-year-old Rahm.

"And it would be really incredible to do something that great players after him (Ballesteros) haven't been able to do at the Open.

"Olazabal came close quite a few times. Sergio has come close quite a few times. It would be an honour to be the next Spanish player to win an Open. I would very much love to."

Ballesteros was known for his swashbuckling style and incredible recovery shots, but world number eight Rahm unsurprisingly says he would settle for winning ugly.

"The inspiration (from Ballesteros) -- there's a lot to look up to," he said.

"None of the game play I would like to emulate, really. I don't think I have the talent to do what he did, to play the way he did.

"Although honestly, like I said, I don't care how it looks, if it looks pretty or not, as long as I win the event."

- 'Great support' -

Rahm also won the 2017 Irish Open at Portstewart, which is just four miles (6.4 km) down the Causeway Coast from Portrush.

He is yet to win a major, but posted his best result at one of the big four events when finishing tied-third at last month's US Open.

"Ever since the first time I played here, well, in Portstewart two years ago, the Irish crowd is treating me very, very specially," said Rahm, who is from Barrika in the Basque Country.

"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.

"When I'm walking around my hometown in Spain, for the most part of the year we get similar weather.

"We're right on the coast, fishing villages. It's just a very similar feel to what I had growing up."

Rahm starts his first round on Thursday at 1421 GMT, playing alongside Americans Patrick Cantlay and Matt Kuchar.

 
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