Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Making pro debut, Rahm looks to build on U.S. Open performance

Just days after winning low amateur honors at Oakmont Country Club, former world No. 1 amateur Jon Rahm joins the paid set. 

The Arizona State product is making his pro debut this week at the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Md.

"This week, I couldn't be more excited," Rahm said Tuesday. "It's a huge honor to be at Congressional Country Club. I've seen a lot of tournaments here, I've seen a lot of videos of the golf course. It's obviously amazing. My expectations were really high when I came here, and the golf course just exceeded them all."

Rahm has the length that can bring the 2011 U.S. Open host to its beefy knees. He was at the top of the driving distance stats during the U.S. Open, giving Dustin Johnson a run for his money as the guy in the field who make Oakmont look smallest. Coincidentally, Rahm has signed an equipment deal with TaylorMade-adidas Golf, which also sponsors the new U.S. Open champion.

However, Rahm's Open performance wasn't what convinced him that he might be able to play at this level. Rather, it was his T-5 finish in the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open that told the two-time Ben Hogan winner that he could make it on the PGA Tour.

"That week was key in my career," Rahm said. "That week gave me the confidence that I needed to know that I could compete with the best. Doing that in Phoenix, in my hometown with such an ASU crowd support, it was amazing."

The Spaniard starts the difficult quest of earning PGA Tour status fresh out of school this week, with more starts already lined up at opposite-field events like the Barbasol Championship next week, the Barracuda Championship opposite the British Open, as well the John Deere Classic, played opposite the men's Olympic golf tournament.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: TaylorMade-adidas CEO David Abeles joins us from Oakmont


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