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Turned pro in 2016, in world's top five within a year

Sensational Jon Rahm has had phenomenal success, sees fellow Rolex Testimonee Phil Mickelson as an inspiration

Rolex Testimonee Jon Rahm (above) leads a pack of 'wolves' who will hound world No.1 Dustin Johnson.

Rolex Testimonee Jon Rahm says: "I didn't predict the early success, but I was definitely confident."

THIS is an interview with Jon Rahm, 25, a Testimonee for Rolex, which has an enduring relationship with the game of golf that began more than 50 years ago.

Question: What are your overall thoughts about Rolex's longstanding support of golf?

Jon Rahm: Well, the relationship began 50 years ago in 1967 with some of the greatest players ever in Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, and the support that the game has had from Rolex over that time has been unbelievable.

They have such long-lasting and healthy relationships with a lot of players on the PGA Tour and the European Tour. It's been amazing to see what they have done for the European Tour with the Rolex Series and it will be amazing to see what they will continue to do in the future.

Q: Can you tell us about your relationship with Rolex? How it came about? When? And what it means to you?

Rahm: The relationship really started in the summer of 2016 after I had turned pro.

I believe I was actually the first signing without a Tour card, although I ended up getting it the week after, so it worked out.

It came about because my management company, which also looks after fellow Testimonee Phil Mickelson, is close with Rolex and has had a great relationship over the years.

Rolex were willing to put their faith in me, and I couldn't be more thankful. It means a great deal to me to be a Testimonee for such a great brand. They are such a big name in the world of watches, they are world class, so for me it's a great honour and something I will always cherish.

Q: Which Rolex watches do you have, and do you have any stories about them?

Rahm: Well, I got the first one when I didn't know anything about watches, but I thought it looked very cool. It was the two-tone, black-face Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona.

My next watch was the Oystersteel blue-face Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller, which has become my favourite watch.

I think it's an amazing piece of machinery to have that many complications in a watch: the annual calendar, seconds, minutes, hours, the date and even the month, it's unbelievable.

Then I also have the one I received for playing in The Ryder Cup in 2018, which was the Oystersteel, white-face Cosmograph Daytona with a black ceramic bezel.

Q: You were given an engraved Rolex as part of the 2018 European Ryder Cup Team. Can you tell us about being given that watch? What it meant to you?

Rahm: It was a huge honour to play on The European Ryder Cup Team and out of all the things that I have to remember that week, the watch is the most special.

To have a Rolex watch, as a Testimonee, engraved with the Ryder Cup logo is absolutely priceless. As it was my first Ryder Cup it is something that will stay close to me for a very long time.

Q: How did you first come to play golf?

Rahm: It all started in 1997, when some of my dad's friends went to watch The Ryder Cup and talked to him about it and after that they all started playing.

Before that, my dad was into parasailing, free-rock climbing, free-skiing, things that were a little bit more difficult and a little bit more adrenaline-fuelled.

Funnily enough, 1997 is the year when Rolex became the Official Timekeeper of the European Tour so it's nice to have that connection.

My dad started playing golf, followed by my mum and my brother. Then my parents would pick me up from school, they would go to their golf lessons and I would just sit down and watch as a curious kid.

One day I picked up a club and the rest is history.

Q: Can you describe the experience of moving to the United States as a youngster to progress your career?

Rahm: It was different for me because I didn't get my offer to play at Arizona State until quite late - it was in May when I received the offer and I started on 25 August.

Luckily, I had already taken my college application SAT exams and some other exams that I needed to take for admission, but it was still a long process to get everything organised before I moved.

I had never been to the United States before, I had only met my coach once and was barely able to speak English, so it was a very difficult process for me to get used to life there.

Everything felt different for me, the ethics, the culture, the rule differences, everything.

It took a few months to settle in to my college life and career, but as time went on my English improved and I was able to have more enjoyable conversations with the people around me.

I always say that for the better part of my freshman year I didn't understand a single joke anyone told.

By my second year I was beginning to understand them, but it wasn't until my junior year, when I could actually start making jokes comfortably.

Q: Who have you taken inspiration from throughout your golfing career?

Rahm: I'm going to name golfers, and the first one is Phil Mickelson who is also a Rolex Testimonee.

He was someone I always looked up to when I was growing up, along with Tiger Woods and Seve Ballesteros.

I think that Seve and Phil had a very similar playing style to me when I was learning the game, so it was great to watch them.

I grew up in a town very close to Pedrena in Barrika with rainy weather, tree-lined courses, a lot of slopes, and I wasn't a good ball striker.

I didn't really become a good ball striker until my sophomore year of college. Up until then I was quite erratic off the tee, but I had a really good short game, so I always took inspiration from Seve and Phil for that.

As we all were, I was a fan of Tiger's, and I've been trying to achieve the same level of excellence he has, but I really became a fan of Seve when I understood how much he did for the game of golf outside the golf course.

In particular the number of people he inspired to start playing the game and the new courses he helped create. The way he took the game to a different level and made people feel about the sport is something I would like to do someday.

It was something quite unique.

Q: After turning professional, you quickly secured wins and scaled the Official World Golf Rankings, nearly reaching World No.1 early in 2018. Did you predict, or were you confident you would make such a phenomenal start to your career?

Rahm: I didn't predict the early success, but I was definitely confident. I'm very confident in my abilities and I believe I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.

That said, I never would have thought I would be within the top five in the world by the end of my first year as a pro.

I actually got inside the top 10 less than a year after turning pro, which I did right after the US Open.

Towards the end of my first full PGA Tour year I was inside the top five and shortly after that, I got to second. I never thought it would happen that way and certainly not that quickly.

You always hope it will, but I never thought it would really happen the way it did.

Q: You get to travel a great deal as a professional golfer. Where do you like to travel to most and why?

Rahm: Ah, there are so many places I like going to! I love going back to Europe because it's where I come from, but I especially love going to France and Ireland.

France is always a great culinary experience and it's a great country to be in. Ireland has been the place where I feel the most connection to the people and the fans, the crowds at the Irish Open have always been special for me, particularly after I won there in 2017 and 2019.

For obvious reasons I love going home to Spain. Obviously I spend a lot of time in the States and there are a lot of places there that I like to go to.

My favourite place is anywhere in California, San Diego is my favourite city in the world and Los Angeles is definitely up there. The California lifestyle is something I really enjoy.

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