TULSA, OKLAHOMA: Reigning US Open golf champion Jon Rahm of Spain has some advice for teen tennis star compatriot Carlos Alcaraz — embrace the routine and put in the work.
World No. 2 Rahm praised the 19-year-old Spanish sensation on Monday as he prepared for Thursday’s start of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
Alcaraz, who won his first ATP title in March at Miami, captured his second earlier this month at Madrid, defeating 20-time Grand Slam winners Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic plus third-ranked Alexander Zverev on his way to the crown and a jump to sixth in the world rankings.
“Pretty impressive, especially in the world of tennis. He’s got some big shoes to fill,” Rahm said.
“Historically Spain has had great tennis players, and with Rafa out there it can be probably daunting yet really exciting too for somebody like him.
“He has got a great start. Hopefully he can keep it going and be a great champion.”
Rahm’s advice was to stay with his regimen and work habits even if tempted to make changes in the wake of early success.
“Believe in yourself and keep working, I would probably tell him,” Rahm said.
“You see a lot of people... they win a major championship and they decide they need to change things because they need it to get better.
“There’s a reason he’s gotten to this point. Just keep using that routine and keep getting better. Don’t need to do a complete 180 flip. Just keep believing in yourself, keep practicing and keep training and results will come.”
Rahm has done that this week in the hope he can add to his major title haul, which began last June at Torrey Pines.
The 27-year-old Spaniard comes in off a victory two weeks ago at the Mexico Open, Rahm’s seventh career US PGA triumph and first since last year’s US Open.
“I don’t know if I needed more confidence, but a win is a win. It was a good one,” Rahm said.
“Hadn’t had my best year so far. I had a couple of really good finishes, but since Torrey, I wasn’t really relevant on the leaderboard, so it was nice to be up there and get the win.”
Rahm says tee shots will be crucial to attack the course this week, but Southern Hills will test all facets of his game.
“If you’re in the rough, you might not be able to be aggressive toward the pins,” Rahm said. “You have to hit a lot of fairways out here.
“Everything needs to be good. Iron game, short game, putting, driving, everything — otherwise something really will have to excel for something else to be lacking.”