Jon Rahm: ‘The individuality of golf is what got me hooked on the sport since I was a kid’
At this point in the conversation, it’s already very clear how much things have changed in the sport. Rahm has a deep and emotional admiration for Severiano Ballesterosthe great hero of Spanish golf, but their careers, both tempered by the rain and the Cantabrian green, took different paths: Ballesteros polished and shone above all in Europe, while Rahm traversed the American university system and is already an integral part of star system of the American PGA. Seve was Europe, Rahm is America. Although that may not be the case.
“It all started because I made a mistake with my age and they wanted me to stay one more year in Spain. It was my last year of high school, at 17 or 18, and they thought I had a year younger. So Arizona State had another Spanish player transferred from Iowa, and at the last minute decided against it. And a person named Richard Relinque who was dedicated to helping gamers get better scholarships, said Tim Mickelson. And Tim, without knowing me, seeing what I had accomplished, offered me a scholarship.
“Caption says his coach fined him for not speaking English.”
-Yes and no. There was one of the teammates who was Mexican, he obviously spoke Spanish and I was talking to him. Playing one of the first rounds with the Americans, he said to one: “Hey, Chris, you think you’re in your country, and you don’t understand a word your teammates are talking about.” So it was invented that for every word we uttered in Spanish in a team environment, we had to do a burpees. Each word, one. That, at least, encouraged me to speak English. I haven’t done a lot burpees. My friend alberttrying to help me, because the language was difficult for me, he got in trouble.
‘Not anymore, his English is fantastic.
“He got married, he’s a father, he reached number one… He’s accomplished a lot.
“Yes, it’s true that I’ve accomplished a lot, but that doesn’t mean I’m still young. Let’s see! You can be mature and young. Maybe in terms of maturity he can be a bit older. But I’m still 27. And that’s what a lot of people sometimes forget when they see me. Since I played very well for many years, they think I’ve been around longer.
What do you mean, “Hey, I’m young, sometimes I can make mistakes and have a weakness”?
“It’s also true.” It’s clear.
“But he has matured.
—For some things yes, for others I’m still 27 years old.
A lot of people forget that I graduated from college. And I have six as a professional.
– Bachelor’s degree in communication. What is that?
-His. This is not journalism! It’s a bit more complicated. It is the science that studies human communication itself. There were a lot of classes where you did non-verbal communication. Others learn to speak in public. And many other reports, different laws on the world of communication. The truth is that it was very interesting. My last two years have been mostly about studying human communication and presenting an appropriate paper. It’s more related to psychology than journalism. It’s four years.
A great tennis player, when the Rolex on his wrist is pointed out, Rahm confirms that during these four years he has learned a lot about what it means to communicate. He could have answered with a more or less standard phrase, but it wouldn’t be him. He talks about what Rolex involves in the world, what it meant to him at the beginning to be part of this company, of which he is Testimony. And while he speaks, he thinks. Until he finds what he really means: “The process of creating a watch is similar to golf. There are so many pieces and pieces so small that you have to put them together to create something very beautiful… The more you want to level up, the more you have to understand each piece. You need that Swiss precision to reach the pinnacle of golf. Precision, strength, yes, but also a certain art. Because in both, in watches as in golf, there is art. It shows [Ballesteros] he was an artist [José María] Olazabal too. I would like to consider myself at this level. Delicacy is very important.”
—You are one of the best golfers in the world. As a child, did you dream of being something else?
—Child, footballer. Athletic goalie. My brother was a goalkeeper, I was a goalkeeper.
—¿Messi or Cristiano?
—[Lanza la primera gran carcajada de la entrevista] Let’s see… [y vuelve a reírse]. Who do I think is the best player? Messi. But Messi doesn’t talk much about his process. Cristiano, on the other hand, has been much more vocal. I admire Cristiano a lot for his dedication to the sport, arriving early to train… That’s what I admire, what he has worked to get where he is. Surely Messi put in the same hours as Cristiano, but he’s not as public. Now… When talking about watching one or the other play football, maybe Cristiano has done more things with other clubs… but Messi… heh, heh… Messi it’s another world. The only reason I think there are people who don’t consider him the best in history is because he didn’t win the World Cup. That’s what I believe, that I haven’t seen Maradona.
A video of Callaway, one of his sponsors, circulates on the networks, in which appears a red notebook in which he takes notes.
Yes, a newspaper.
“It’s not something many people do anymore…
“He was my mental trainer, my coach. It helped me discover that it’s something I love. It started with my father, who taught me to study. Instead of memorizing, he would read a chapter and summarize. Ever since I was little, I’ve made a habit of summarizing what I learn in one way or another so that it stays in my head. Keeping a journal helps me a lot to organize what I have in mind.
“And do you really write every day?
-Yes. It’s almost almost a way of meditating. He helps me. I started a few years ago. When I realized I needed more, it was during COVID, during quarantine. Life had lost a bit of meaning, I couldn’t do anything anymore, I couldn’t leave the house, I realized that writing was helping me. There are days when I write three lines and others when I write five pages. I saved them all, but once I write they are gone. It’s a tool.
“Golf is seconds of action and many minutes of fighting against your own mind. Those are your words. Can you explain it?
-Yes. A round of golf, especially in major tournaments, lasts almost five hours in which you hit 70 or 72 shots, you think about it 30 seconds, which will be half an hour of action. And then four hours and 20 minutes of nothing, walking and dealing with what you have here [se señala la cabeza]. Most golf is played in the mind. You don’t learn to control, you learn to know how to think on the golf course, what to do when you have certain emotions. It’s more than just hitting the ball, because what you think between shots can affect the next one. It’s hard to explain, it’s not like football or tennis, where you react to what’s happening in front of you and you don’t have time to think. In golf there is a lot, there is silence, there is rowdiness, there are fans yelling at you about everything, that you can hear them because they are next to you. And there is plenty of time to reflect.
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