Playing at Royal Portrush this week will have a home-from-home feeling for Jon Rahm, who hopes his previous successes at The Irish Open can lead to a major breakthrough.
The Spaniard claimed his first Irish Open victory at Portstewart two years ago and earned a confidence-boosting triumph in Lahinch at the start of this month.
Rahm emanates from Barrika, a town in the Basque Country in northern Spain, and enjoys a strong feeling of familiarity in Northern Ireland for the 148th Open Championship this week.
“I just like it. Ever since the first time I played here, in Portstewart two years ago, the Irish crowd is treating me very, very specially,” he said.
“I’ve had a 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.
“The first year I didn’t expect it. I didn’t expect the support. And I think Spanish people have a lot of pride about the country of Spain, and being Basque, Basque people have a lot of pride in being Basque, and especially in my city. I think Northern Irish people are really proud of their country and to be where they’re from. I feel that’s a similarity and have a similar feel.
“When I’m walking around my hometown in Spain, for the most part of the year we get similar weather. Summer is a little bit better. We’re right on the coast, fishing villages. It’s just a very similar feel to what I had growing up. So, it’s a lot of home feel, too, without being at home.”
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 17, 2019
Rahm is taking plenty of confidence from his previous moments of glory on Irish soil and links golf courses as he aims to win a maiden major.
He added: “There are definitely a lot of positives to take from it. If I ever have doubt, which I shouldn’t, I can always remind myself that I’ve been able to win twice here. That’s the reason why I can get it done.
“There’s a lot of positive in that sense. A lot of confidence in knowing that I’m more than capable to win an Open Championship, to win on a links golf course.”