Winds with gusts of up to 40 km / h blowing from five different directions. Chance of rain between 60 and 70%. Humidity reaching 90%. The thermometer going down to 10 degrees. The cold and the water flow in Portrush, a small town in Northern Ireland, northwest of Belfast, known for the proximity of the Causeway of the Giants, the formation of some 40,000 basalt columns by the cooling of the lava, a Heritage of Humanity that attracts a million people each year. The geological show amazed Jon Rahm, who talks about it and recommends the visit while preparing for the British Open on Thursday (from 7.30 in Movistar Golf) starts at the Royal Portrush course.
"I have the game in good condition," says Rahm, again among the favorites, "but more than the game and how I am physically, a big one is a very mental competition. That is the most important. I have been told that I am now more patient in the field. I have improved. When I became a pro I was 21 years old, I arrived among the 10 best in the world in less than a year, and those expectations, that attention that I came to have, I did not expect. It was a process of readjustment. Last year was a more personal growth than golf. I had to mature a lot, and that is helping me to be a better player. I have a more mature head. "
The game also smiles at him after his victory two weeks ago in the neighboring Lahinch field to win his second Irish Open (2017 and 2019). "Here I feel special. It's the closest thing to playing at home. Spaniards feel very proud of being Spanish. The Basques are very proud of being Basque, especially in my city (Bilbao). I think the Northern Irish people feel that way too. At home we have a similar time. It is very similar to how I have grown, on the coast, fishing villages. It's like being at home, "says the Irish Rahm.
The Basque has a pending account (if that is possible with 24 years) with the British Open, the only big one in which he has not finished in the top four. Fourth in the Masters and in the PGA, third in the US Open, in the islands accumulates a 59th place, a 44th and a failed last year, affected by a personal situation. "When I come to a big one it's to win," Rahm releases, "and I've all had a certain option on Sunday, I've been there. The Open is the only one in which I have suffered to pass the cut, the only one in which I have not done my best golf. This year I want to give me options. It is the big one in which more experiences have to be accumulated. As a game in the United States, here we have to learn. Phil (Mickelson) says it took him almost 20 years to learn how to read these greens and how to play a link. "
There is a world between the amateur Rahm who played five years ago at Royal Portrush and now. "I'm bigger, I hit him harder, I'm more mature and I play better with the wind. Before I came to survive. I have learned a lot around green"Says the Basque.
The Open returns to Ireland after 68 years and in Portrush the secrets of the field are paid at the price of gold. Rahm trained on Tuesday with the Noirian Graeme McDowell, who, like Rory McIlroy, plays at home, looking for a clue. And Tiger Woods wrote to Brooks Koepka asking him to share an internship and he got silence for an answer. He was looking for El Tigre privileged information, which Koepka has thanks to his caddy, Ricky Elliott, born in the area and who knows the traps of the road like no other: the changes of wind that alter everything, the undulations and falls of the greens, the treacherous boats, the not so easy recipe here of the approach and putt …
Koepka, the Lord of the Great, pursues his fifth Grand Slam title in 10 participations and extend the domain of the American empire. Six of the last seven majors winners, 14 of 19, are Americans. Only the Italian Francesco Molinari, defender of the Jar of Clarete, is now among the current winners. Tiger (Masters), Koepka (PGA) and Gary Woodland (US Open) have triumphed this season. If the Open ends with another Yankee victory, it will be four out of four, an unprecedented full since 1982. "They have a lot of young talent and great punchers", assumes Molinari, who points to Rahm and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood as the European strengths of the future.
In the bets looms McIlroy. At 30, the local hero seeks to recover the path of triumphs in the big ones that he lost in 2014 with his fourth laurel. His redemption may be in Portrush. His is the record of the field, the 61 strokes he signed in 2005 when he was an amateur of 16 years.
Seven Spaniards (Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera, Jorge Campillo, Adri Arnaus, Adrian Otaegui and Miguel Angel Jimenez) make up a large army that will try to celebrate on Sunday the 40th anniversary of the first Seve Open. "How many videos have I seen of Seve on Youtube? All, "says Rahm; "Sergio won the Masters on Seve's 60th birthday, and I would like to win now, especially when no other Spaniard has won this tournament. It would be very special. "
Departure times (local time, one hour less in mainland Spain).
Exit times for Spanish players (Spanish peninsular time): 8.41. Rafa Cabrera Bello with Bubba Watson and Eddie Pepperell. 9.14. Sergio García with Webb Simpson and CT Pan. 12.36. Miguel Ángel Jiménez with Tom Lehman and Joaquín Niemann. 12.47. Jorge Campillo with Hun Byeong An and Chris Wood. 12.58. Adri Arnaus with Joel Dahmen and Dimitrios Papadatos. 16.21. Jon Rahm with Patrick Cantlay and Matt Kuchar. 16.43. Adrian Otaegui with Yuta Ikeda and Isidro Benítez.
TV: Movistar Golf (starting at 7.30).
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