Open de Espana 2019: Jon Rahm defends title with commanding victory

Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm

World number five Jon Rahm became the first player to successfully defend the Mutuactivos Open de Espana title for 66 years with a commanding victory at Club de Campo in Madrid.

Leaderboard

-22 Rahm

-17 Cabrera Bello

-15 Del Val

-13 Winther, Hansen, Arnaus

Day four report

World number five Jon Rahm became the first player to successfully defend the Mutuactivos Open de Espana title for 66 years with a commanding victory at Club de Campo in Madrid.

Rahm carded a closing 66 to finish 22 under par, five shots ahead of compatriot Rafa Cabrera Bello, with Samuel Del Val making it a Spanish 1-2-3 on 15 under.

The win gave Rahm a fifth European Tour title in just his 39th start, surpassing the record for a Spanish player set by Seve Ballesteros, who reached the milestone on his 49th appearance.

It also took Rahm above Open champion Shane Lowry on the Race to Dubai with seven tournaments remaining. Ballesteros was the last Spanish player to finish top of the money list in 1991.

"To beat Seve in something is unbelievable, one of the main figures in European golf and world golf in general," Rahm said.

"It's great that I've done it here, it's great to beat Seve's record with his last professional win being on this course as well.

"It's very special to me and any time I can do anything close to what he did is unbelievable."

Rahm began the final round with a five-shot lead following a superb 63 on Saturday and was never in danger of being caught after a brilliant approach to the par-five fourth set up an eagle from four feet.

The 24-year-old also birdied the seventh, ninth, 10th and 14th and was only denied an even bigger winning margin when Cabrera Bello birdied five of the last six holes, while he dropped a shot on the 17th.

"I'm not happy I three-putted 17, I wanted to go bogey-free, but at the end of the day I did the important thing, I was able to successfully defend it in front of the home crowd," Rahm told Sky Sports.

"It might not be the strongest field yet but it's always really hard for me to keep everything under control and to play the weekend that I did for them is always really fun.

"I can't wait for next year to come back and hopefully do it three times."

Del Val began the week ranked 1,413th in the world and will jump around 750 places on the back of his third-place finish.

"It's been incredible," he said after a closing 68 which left him two shots ahead of Adri Arnaus, JB Hansen and Jeff Winther. "I felt like I played much better today than yesterday.

"The score was one shot better but yesterday I was hanging on for dear life. It was a bit like a chess game, finding the right angles and the right spots.

"I was just trying to play my game. He (Rahm) had a five-shot lead, I know I wasn't capable of getting him.

"At the end the race was for second place between Rafa and me, and he played great with five birdies on his last six holes. I'm really happy with the performance."

Day three report

Jon Rahm stamped his class on the Open de Espana with a blistering back-nine charge as he closes in on a successful title defence.

The world number five will take over at the top of the Race To Dubai standings should he win the title in Madrid, and after a Saturday 63 which included eight birdies and an eagle he'll be expected to do just that.

Rahm leads by five from compatriots Rafa Cabrera Bello and Samuel Del Val, the latter yet to win on the European or Challenge Tours, with Adri Arnaus having work to do having stalled on a gorgeous afternoon at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid.

Starting the day two off the lead, Rahm birdied the third, fourth and seventh holes before back-to-back bogeys at the eighth and ninth saw his challenge stall.

As Arnaus made the turn in level following a pair of mistakes of his own, Rahm was just one behind and now set about taking control, with a birdie three at the 10th kick-starting a run of form nobody else in the field is perhaps capable of.

By the time Rahm had holed out for eagle at the 16th, he'd played seven holes in seven-under, moving four clear of the unheralded Del Val in the process, and that gap would become five when the latter bogeyed the last.

Pars at the final two holes completed an eight-under 63 as Rahm moved clear of the field, and having started the tournament as the shortest-priced favourite of the year on the European Tour, the hopes of those in pursuit appear slim at best.

Del Val - ranked 1413, 1408 places behind Rahm - stuck to the task admirably until a blemish at the 18th which saw him joined by Cabrera Bello, who recovered to shoot 70 on a stop-start day.

Sweden's Jens Dantorp is the only player threatening to crash the all-Spanish party at 11-under following a round of 65, with Arnaus a shot further back on 10-under after a disappointing finish.

Day two report

Rafa Cabrera Bello and Adri Arnaus share the halfway lead in the Mutuactivos Open de Espana as home players occupied the top four places at Club de Campo in Madrid.

Cabrera Bello, who has yet to drop a shot this week, added a second round of 65 to his opening 66 to finish 11 under par alongside Arnaus, who looked set to hold the outright lead until a bogey on the last in his 66.

World number 1,413 Samuel Del Val is just a shot off the lead after a superb 65, with world number five and defending champion Jon Rahm a stroke further back on nine under following a 67, making it an all-Spanish top four.

Cabrera Bello, whose last European Tour title came in the 2017 Scottish Open, said: "You don't get to go bogey-free very often and to do it two days in a row, I don't know how many times I've done that.

"I'm obviously very pleased with the way I'm playing. I'm feeling very confident out there, in control of my game and when I get into trouble my resources manage to save par."

Cabrera Bello played alongside Arnaus and Rahm in the first two rounds and added: "Yesterday was like a dream day and today we had it again. I think we're minus 31 for the three of us which is remarkable.

"We've just been feeding off each other and the crowd. To have thousands of people cheering for us has been really cool."

Del Val, who carded seven birdies and a solitary bogey in his 65, is contesting his 22nd tournament in the space of 28 weeks as he tries to secure his playing rights somewhere for next season.

"I felt like I controlled both rounds really well, didn't really make many mistakes," the 32-year-old said. "I had the putter going both days and I'm in a really good position for the weekend.

"I didn't feel like the course would suit my game too well but I've been smart around it, I've left the ball on the right side of the greens so the ups and downs were not as hard. It seems like it's been easy golf so far.

"I think it's going to be a great weekend, having the Spaniards on top of the leaderboard hopefully brings even more people out on a great golf course."

England's Ross Fisher is six shots off the lead after recording back-to-back eagles in his 68, just a fortnight after making the first albatross on the 18th at Wentworth during the BMW PGA Championship.

Fisher, who also made eagles on the fourth and 14th on day one, holed from six feet for eagle on the par-five seventh - his 16th hole of the day - and then spun his approach to the next back into the hole for an eagle two.

"I was flag hunting on the last there trying to go three in a row," Fisher said. "I know I've had a nice run of birdies in a row but I'd be surprised if I've done back to back eagles."

Spanish Ryder Cup star Sergio Garcia is seven shots off the lead after carding a second consecutive 69.


Day one report

Kristian Krogh Johannessen
Kristian Krogh Johannessen

World number 909 Kristian Krogh Johannessen outshone a host of home favourites to claim a shock lead after day one of the Mutuactivos Open de Espana.

Johannessen, who has missed the cut 13 times in 17 events in his rookie season on the European Tour, carded an eagle and seven birdies in an opening eight-under-par 63 at Club de Campo to lead by two shots from Adri Arnaus.

Defending champion Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrera Bello, who made up the marquee all-Spanish group with Arnaus, were a shot further back on five under alongside Marcel Siem, Andrea Pavan, Dean Burmester and Jamie Donaldson.

Sergio Garcia, who won the KLM Open on his last start, lies six shots off the pace following a 69.

Johannessen started his round from the 10th and birdied the 13th and 14th before holing out for an eagle on the par-four 15th.

The 24-year-old Norwegian dropped his only shot of the day by three-putting the 16th but birdied the next and picked up four more shots in his last six holes.

"It was a good round," Johannessen said. "I didn't hit it perfectly but hit it in the right spots, even when I missed, and I holed some good putts.

"I'm out there having fun and playing smart. It's a tricky course, but I've got a friend on the bag this week and we're having fun out there.

"I just need to keep calm, play my own game and not get stressed out there. It's a bit tricky, so if you get stressed you start easily making mistakes. I just need to keep cool and play my own game."

Rahm, who can overtake Open champion Shane Lowry at the top of the Race to Dubai with a good performance in Madrid, carded six birdies and a solitary bogey in his 66.

"It was always a dream to win the Spanish Open and definitely a career goal of mine to be a multiple champion," the world number five said.

"I've not been able to successfully defend a title. I've been close, but not there, so hopefully I can make it happen this week. It's a challenge. Adri is playing good, if he keeps hitting it long and straight, he'll have a chance."

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