Jon Rahm becomes European No. 1 with dominant Spanish Open win

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Jon Rahm is in pole position to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai after lapping the field to win the $1.65 million Spanish Open.

No Spaniard has won the European Tour money title since Seve Ballesteros in 1991, Ballesteros’s sixth money title. Rahm is now odds on favorite to follow in Ballesteros’ footsteps after successfully defending his Spanish Open title at Club de Campo in Madrid.

Rahm entered the final round with a five-shot lead and maintained that advantage with a final round 66, 5-under, to finish on 22 under 262.

Compatriot Rafa Cabrera Bello finished solo second, with another Spaniard in Samuel Del Val taking third place on 15 under in just his fifth European Tour start.

Rahm set a record with his fifth European Tour victory. No other Spaniard has reached five wins in that number of tournaments. Ballesteros needed 49 starts to attain five wins.

The victory was particularly special for Rahm since it came on the course where Ballesteros won the 1995 Spanish Open, his 50th and final European Tour victory.

“In front of a home crowd, it’s always really hard for me to keep everything under control and to play the weekend that I did for them, it’s always really fun,” Rahm said. “I can’t wait to come back next year and hopefully do it three times.

“He (Ballesteros) did turn pro a lot earlier than I did so, age-wise, I think he’s beaten me. Still, to beat Seve in something, it’s unbelievable. He’s one of the main references from European golf and world golf in general.

“It’s great that I’ve done it here, to beat Seve’s record with his last professional win being at this course as well, it’s very special for me. Any time I can do anything close to what he did is unbelievable.

“That’s why I’m here. trying to make Spanish golf bigger and grow the sport in Spain like he did. Hopefully with these wins I’m doing a decent job.”

Cabrera Bello matched Rahm’s 66 to take second on his own, but he had to go much lower to have any hope of overhauling the World No. 5.

“I would have liked to get some birdies early to put some pressure on Jon, but that didn’t happen,” he said. “I had to hang in there, fight for the second spot and I was very pleased that the birdies came at the end. It was his tournament to lose and he played great. All I could do was focus on my ball, try to finish second and I managed to do that.”

Rahm overtook Shane Lowry at the top of the European pecking order to set up an interesting race for European No. 1. Rahm holds a 362.8-point lead over Lowry, with Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger sitting in third, Matt Wallace in fourth and Tommy Fleetwood in fifth.

There are just seven tournaments left in the 2018-19 season, but four are lucrative Rolex Series events, including the season-ending $8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

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