Jon Rahm successfully defended his Open de Espana title with a convincing five stroke victory
Jon Rahm entered the European Tour record books on Sunday with a five stroke victory at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid as he successfully defended the title he claimed last year.
The World No.5, who fired a final round 66 to finish on 22-under-par, claimed his fifth European Tour title in just his 39th start, becoming the fastest Spaniard to achieve that feat – an accolade that used to belong to Seve Ballesteros.
“In front of a home crowd, it’s always really hard for me to keep everything under control and to play the weekend that I did for them, it’s always really fun,” said Rahm after his second European Tour win of the year. “I can’t wait to come back next year and hopefully do it three times.
“He (Ballesteros) did turn pro a lot earlier than I did so age-wise I think he’s beaten me. Still, to beat Seve in something, it’s unbelievable. He’s one of the main references from European golf and world golf in general.
“It’s great that I’ve done it here, to beat Seve’s record with his last professional win being at this course as well, it’s very special for me. Any time I can do anything close to what he did is unbelievable.
“That’s why I’m here. trying to make Spanish golf bigger and grow the sport in Spain like he did. Hopefully with these wins I’m doing a decent job.”
Rahm, who began the final round with a five stroke lead after a third round 63, narrowly missed birdie chances over the first three holes before he converted a four-foot putt for eagle to pull seven shots clear of the field.
After saving par at the sixth with an up-and-down from the sand, Rahm took advantage of the next par five (the seventh) to increase his lead briefly to eight shots before playing partner Samuel Del Val answered with a birdie of his own at the same hole.
Del Val reduced the gap to six shots with another birdie at the eighth, but the defending champion soon extended it one more with a putt from 16 feet for birdie at the ninth and from similar distance at the 10th.
His final birdie of the day came in the form of a two-putt birdie at the 14th, and although he dropped a shot at the 17th he still finished at 22-under-par, matching the lowest score to par at this event and in the 2019 Race to Dubai.
Rafa Cabrera Bello birdied five of his final six holes to get to 17-under, but it was only enough to finish five strokes behind in solo second place, with Del Val two shots further back in third in what was just the fifth European Tour event of his career.
Jeff Winther matched the lowest round of the week with a 63 in the final round to finish in a tie for fourth with J.B. Hansen and Adri Arnaus, while Sergio Garcia, Justin Harding, Masahiro Kawamura, Zander Lombard and Jason Scrivener finished ten shots off the lead in a tie for seventh.
The victory moved Rahm to the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex as he looks to become the first Spaniard to win the Harry Vardon Trophy since the late, great Seve Ballesteros in 1991.