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All hail Spain!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Tony spoke to former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez to look back at Jon Rahm’s dominant five-shot victory at the Spanish Open on Sunday:

“Rahm is a future world number one, no doubt about it. I don’t think there’s a more gifted all-round player in golf today.

He’s got it all. He hits the ball a country mile off the tee and he’s always been a sublime putter. In the modern era, we know that it you can drive the ball a long way and you’ve got anything approaching a decent putting stroke, you’re in business.

As far as I can see Rahm doesn’t have any real weaknesses in his game either. He’s always been a pretty combustible character out on the course but there weren’t any apparent histrionics at the Spanish Open last week and as long as he can keep his volatile temperament in check I can see him winning multiple Major championships.

It’s extraordinary to think he’s surpassed the legendary Seve Ballesteros in terms of the speed in which he has won his first five European Tour titles. There was no one quite like Seve.

He was my right-hand man in my four matches as Ryder Cup captain. I always referred to him as my ‘one-man army’, such was the inspirational nature of his impact on the rest of the team.

If Rahm can manage to put together half the career that Seve produced, he will be more than pleased.

It has often gone understated and under-appreciated quite how significant Seve and the rest of his Spanish countrymen have been in terms of their importance to European golf down the years.

I remember in my early days playing regularly with Ramon Sota, who was a serial winner on tour. Then Seve came along while the likes of Manuel Pinero, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jose Maria Canizares and Jose Rivero also made valuable contributions to our Ryder Cup successes.

It was quite touching to see how many of his fellow Spaniards rushed on to the green to mark Jose Maria Olazabal’s final appearance in the PGA Championship at Wentworth last month.

Ollie’s spectacular partnership with Seve is the stuff of Ryder Cup folklore and it was a real treat, as captain, to be able to send them out together because you knew that they would inevitably come back with a precious point.

Jose Maria was a pivotal member of the side and it was no surprise to see how emotional he became at Wentworth. Some of the outstanding memories from a wonderful career in golf come flooding back to you at a time like that and it is difficult to hold back the tears in those moments.

That guy has been so gritty and determined down the years. It is easy to overlook quite how bad was the foot and back pain he experienced in the 1990s. I remember when he had to pull out of the 1995 Ryder Cup because he was barely able to walk.

Ollie showed terrific resilience to come back from those setbacks. He’s a lovely guy, one of the most popular players on the circuit, and thoroughly deserves to be acknowledged as a European Tour great.”