Rahm joins hero Ballesteros as three-time Spanish Open winner

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Min Woo Lee of Australia looks over his line on the 4th hole during the Spanish Open golf tournament at Club de Campo Villa in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

PA

It took a year longer than he had hoped, but Jon Rahm is finally a three-time winner of the Spanish Open, equaling the feat of his hero Seve Ballesteros.

There was frustration and disappointment after Rahm finished his home tournament last year when he failed in his first attempt to equal the three titles won by the Spanish golfing great.

It was very different this time around as Rahm lifted his putter and delivered a hard punch after birdying his second straight birdie to close out a remarkable 9-under 62 final round for a six-stroke victory at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid on Sunday.

He finished at 25 under for the week, bettering his own 2019 tournament record by three strokes. Matthieu Pavon of France was second after a 6-under 65.

“My lowest round here, my lowest score here. It was pretty much a perfect week,” Rahm said.

A loud shout “Viva Seve” was heard from the crowd filling the 18th green just as Rahm’s six-foot putt was on the way.

“That was the goal coming in,” said 27-year-old Rahm. “Seve is one of my great heroes and to do something that he has taken his entire career to do in a few years is quite humbling, I’m not going to lie.

“I understand it might not be the strongest field I’ve played all year, but sometimes it can be the hardest to win,” sixth-placed Rahm said. “I’m supposed to win, everyone bets on me to win, and coming to play on a Sunday like I just did is hard to describe.”

Australian Min Woo Lee (68), who was in the final group and challenged Rahm all week, couldn’t keep up with the pace on Sunday and finished third, another shot back.

It was never a contest, as Rahm played his best golf of the week.

He made eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey. His lead was up to five after the 14th hole when he nearly made an albatross two on the par-5 hole – his ball hitting the flagstick a little too hard and going over the hole.

It was Rahm’s second victory of the year following his triumph at the Mexican Open in May. It was his eighth European Tour win overall.

Ballesteros won the last of his 50 titles on the European tour at this tournament in 1995. Rahm’s other Spanish Open titles came in 2018 and 2019. He struggled last year – finishing tied for 17th – after arriving as the highest-ranked player after winning the US Open.

Before the start of the tournament in the Spanish capital, local activists threw cement into some holes to protest against alleged water mismanagement at golf courses. The organizers said they are using the water sustainably.

Play was unaffected as the cemented holes were not used on the tournament course, organizers said.

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