Mickelson motivation and the spirit of Seve inspiring Rahm on Augusta debut

By Harry West 4 April 2017
Mickelson motivation and the spirit of Seve inspiring Rahm on Augusta debut

Jon Rahm hopes his stunning 2017 will continue this week at the Masters, where the Spaniard will lean on advice from Phil Mickelson and try to evoke the spirit of Seve Ballesteros.

Having only turned professional last year, the 22-year-old has quickly become recognised as golf's rising star, thanks to his win at the Farmers Insurance Open in January, as well as finishing runner-up to Dustin Johnson at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play last month.

Two more top-five finishes in 2017 provide further evidence of Rahm's undoubted ability, which will be given a stern test as he makes his Augusta debut this week.

Formerly coached and now represented by Tim Mickelson, brother of Phil, Rahm revealed on Monday the help he has received from the three-time Masters champion.

"Apparently I get to learn from people that tell me he's always had incredible faith in my game," Rahm said in a media conference. 

"We played against each other a couple times and he's had nothing but great things to say about me. So that's the first point, Phil being a great motivator.

"He told me even before I turned pro that he thought I was one of the top‑10 best players in the world. At the time, he gave me a lot of confidence. But I was like, 'okay, he's just trying to be nice'.

"But you know, once I turned pro and I started doing what I'm doing, I started believing he was right, and I'm pretty close to getting to that point.

"We all know how great a guy he is and how much he can help a person and how knowledgeable he is in the game of golf and every single course on the PGA Tour. He's obviously been playing for a long time. And the way he studies the game and he studies the golf course, he thinks about it more than anybody else. The insight he's got, it really is amazing.

"I don't think the same way he does, but he always has very, very, very valuable info that I need to know for each week. And he might not always say it, because I can't catch him at a good time but whenever he can he'll tell me and give me advice and everything and he's certainly helped me out."

Sunday's final round will mark what would have been Ballesteros' 60th birthday, and Rahm hopes the memories of his late compatriot will help provide him with a green jacket to celebrate.

"Well, Seve is my ultimate reference, my idol," Rahm said. "I try to emulate a lot of things he did. You know, the name Seve Ballesteros is really important for me.

"Now, if I have a chance on Sunday, I'll keep in mind that I know he'll be out there...hopefully helping me out to get the green jacket.

"I know he'll be out for the entire week but hopefully on Sunday he can make a special present."

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