Madrid, Oct 5 (EFE).- Spanish world No. 1 golfer Jon Rahm said Tuesday it would be a great honor to partner one day in a golf event with countryman and tennis legend Rafael Nadal, who is known to hit the links whenever possible.
Rahm said of the 35-year-old Nadal, winner of a record 13 French Opens and co-leader all-time with 20 men’s Grand Slam singles titles, that he’s a “great idol and someone to learn from.”
The 2021 US Open champion, who will be competing in the Open de España at Madrid’s Campo Villa country club from Oct. 7-10 and spoke to the media at the presentation ceremony on Tuesday, will be looking to equal late Spanish great Seve Ballesteros’ tally of three titles.
“I hadn’t been in Spain since December 2019, and that’s what’s most exciting. Being able to play in front of a Spanish crowd is important, as is the challenge of equaling Seve,” Rahm said of that Hall of Fame golfer who died of brain cancer in 2011.
The world No. 1 said he has some mixed feelings about his year despite capturing his first major title and returning to the top spot in the rankings.
“Missing the Olympic Games (due to a positive Covid-19 test) was a really tough blow. We’ve had a year with a little of everything. The Ryder Cup wasn’t what we’d hoped for, and as a team it was a bit tough to have a result like that (the US defeated Europe 19-9). I’ve had a year with a lot of experiences, but I think the good has been better than the bad,” Rahm said.
A native of the northern Spanish town of Barrika, the 26-year-old said he always believed he was capable of reaching the top of the world rankings.
“Before starting my professional career, I knew what I was capable of,” he said. “I hope I can transcend golf and be a point of reference, like Rafa Nadal, who’s a great idol and someone to learn from. I don’t know if I’ll reach the level in golf (that he has reached) in tennis.”
Rahm also said he would like to play a pro-am golf event with Nadal, a strong amateur player who frequently arrives at tennis tournaments with his golf clubs and plays if the opportunity arises.
“I would’ve loved to have played with Rafa (in the past). There have been some opportunities to play with athletes from other disciplines in other tournaments abroad, and I see it as positive, as long as a spot isn’t being taken away from someone who deserves it. It would be a great honor,” he said.
Looking back on his career to this point, Rahm said he would be happy even if he had not reached No. 1 “because when you give your all there’s nothing to reproach yourself with.”
“When I think about those moments, I think about the last 12 years, in the hours I’ve put in to reach the top … and I know I’ve gotten here through pure hard work. I’m proud and staying humble because I know what I’ve done, but also what lies ahead to maintain” that position, he said. EFE