Jon Rahm will play his first professional tournament on home soil when he tees it up at this week’s Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.
The Spaniard has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the last 12 months, winning on both sides of the Atlantic and sits third in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex and fifth in the Official World Golf Ranking.
He now returns to his homeland, the place where he fell in love with the game, but this is not his first trip to Real Club Valderrama.
The 22 year old was just two when the layout played host to the 1997 Ryder but he admits without that event he may never have taken up the game.
“This venue is very important for Spanish golf,” he said. “In the past it did a great job putting Spanish golf on the map, they made it an iconic golf course.
“Then the Ryder Cup came along and made a huge impact in Spain, that’s the reason why I’m playing golf.
“There have been some pictures floating around on social media and obviously I’ve been waiting for this moment for ten years.
“The photo is of me waiting for some autographs right here in Valderrama and it was Henrik Stenson who signed my shirt.
“It’s funny how I’ve come from that ten years ago to now being able to compete alongside him and accomplish the things I’ve accomplished so it’s quite a special feeling to be back.”
Rahm set the ball rolling for a brilliant 2017 for Spanish golf when he won the Farmers Insurance Open on the US PGA Tour in January.
A week later Sergio Garcia won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and followed that with Major Championship glory at the Masters Tournament with Alvaro Quiros, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Adrian Otaegui all adding further European Tour wins alongside Rahm’s victory at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation.
With Rahm and Garcia both challenging to be Europe’s Number One and sitting in the upper echelons of the World Rankings, Rahm is hopeful 2017 can prove an inspiration to more Spanish golfers.
“It’s a real family within Spanish golf at the moment and it’s been one of the best years we’ve had in a long time for our players with Alvaro, myself, Sergio, Adrian and Rafa winning,” he said.
“I think the record for worldwide victories from Spanish players is nine and this is the closest we’ve come this year, so hopefully one of us can win this week and we get closer to that number.
“It’s a good moment for Spanish golf and I hope the other players will see this and go on to accomplish great things. We have a lot of great players that haven’t had the chance yet and I’m sure when they get it they’ll take advantage.”