It is 09:30 in the morning, Thursday 12 October, The National Day of Spain, and the tenth tee of Madrid’s Casa de Campo is brimming with fans hoping to get a glimpse of their hero, Jon Rahm, and 2021 champion Rafa Cabrera Bello. Even the Barrika native was surprised to see how many spectators had turned out: “Honestly, given what day it is, I wasn’t expecting there to be so many people. Knowing that there would be traffic, roads closed, etc. I wasn’t expecting so many fans. It’s such an honour that they would come to see me on a day like this. Instead of celebrating the country, and the history of the country, for them to come and watch me, being able to do well in front of them is even better. Hopefully I can continue to do as well as I have”.
The Spanish fans responded to the request from the recent Ryder Cup winner a couple of days ago at the tournament presentation, when he encouraged everyone to come to the tournament, and they turned up in droves. The Spaniard was particularly excited to see so many children following his match: “There are more [children] every year”, he said with a smile. “When I was young, I wanted to be a footballer before a golfer, so it’s an honour if that’s their dream. I’ve said it many times. One of my goals is for golf to be at a higher level when I retire than it was when I started to play. So hopefully I can achieve that goal. And at the moment, playing good golf, I’m getting there”, explained the 2023 US Masters champion.
The Barrika Lion is certainly in fine form, and he acknowledged that the only thing preventing him from shooting the lights out today was his putter. “It was a great day’s golf. It’s a shame the putts wouldn’t drop at the start. But I’ve played very well, very comfortable. If I can play like that from tee to green the rest of the week, and keep hitting good putts, I’ll have a good chance come Sunday”, he concluded.