REIGN OF SPAIN AGAIN AS RAHM BREAKS RECORD

Daily Mail - - Formula One — Austrian Grand Prix - DEREK LAWRENSON re­ports from Port­stew­art

JON RAHM’S dear­est wish for the fi­nal round of the Dubai Duty Free Ir­ish Open was to add his own chap­ter to the rich his­tory of Span­ish suc­cess in the event. The re­mark­able 22-yearold did that all right, with a spec­tac­u­lar spree in­clud­ing two ea­gles that saw him de­mol­ish the tour­na­ment’s scor­ing record. Ser­gio Gar­cia’s first vic­tory on the European Tour was in this event in 1999 and now Rahm has repli­cated the feat in only his sec­ond event on the cir­cuit. The other Spa­niards to tri­umph in Ire­land were Jose Maria Olaz­a­bal and three-time cham­pion Seve Balles­teros. ‘It feels slightly sur­real right now to join my three he­roes on this tro­phy but also such an hon­our,’ said Rahm. His stun­ning 65 fea­tured a holed seven iron from 150 yards for one ea­gle and a putt from 45ft to claim an­other. The pre­vi­ous record was 21 un­der par set by Bern­hard Langer in 1994 but Rahm moved the nee­dle three strokes with a 24-un­der-par to­tal and a six-shot win. Just over a year ago, while still an am­a­teur, Rahm was ranked 551st in the world. Now he will head to The Open at Royal Birk­dale next week with only seven play­ers ranked above him. The round was not with­out con­tro­versy, as Rahm was guilty of in­cor­rectly re­plac­ing his ball on the sixth green. Af­ter mark­ing it to the side and then mov­ing it one put­ter head to get out of the way of play­ing part­ner Daniel Im’s ball, Rahm re­placed it in a spot that was per­haps an inch nearer the hole, thereby turn­ing a 15-inch gimme into a 14-inch one. In the past he would al­most cer­tainly have been pe­nalised two strokes. Now, in the more re­laxed cli­mate fol­low­ing April’s Lexi Thomp­son con­tro­versy (she was pe­nalised a grotesque four shots for a sim­i­lar in­fringe­ment) Rahm was deemed to have shown rea­son­able judge­ment and no penalty was ap­plied. Rahm fin­ished off with an ex­quis­ite chip at the 18th that was pos­i­tively Seve-es­que and led to an enor­mous roar from an­other bumper, 20,000-plus crowd. Bri­tish play­ers were bathed in smiles as well. Four­teen months af­ter fin­ish­ing fourth in this event, Eng­land’s Matt South­gate closed with a 66 to fin­ish joint run­nerup with Scot Richie Ram­say, who earned him­self a spot at The Open next week with a won­der­ful clos­ing 65. Fur­ther­more, along­side Justin Rose in a tie for fourth was Ed­in­burgh’s David Drys­dale, who fin­ished with seven straight birdies for a course record 63 that also came with the bonus of an Open place.

Ris­ing star: Rahm

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