Jon Rahm says he controlled his nerves and never panicked to secure the green jacket with a four-stroke victory at Augusta National on Sunday.
Rahm had been ice-cool on the course as he overtook third-round leader Brooks Koepka and then held onto his lead on the back nine, where so many Masters dreams have been dashed.
But once victory was secured on the 18th green, the steely determination gave way to the inevitable feelings of joy and pride – both personal and national.
READ: Rahm follows Ballesteros with Masters glory
“Obviously we all dream of things like this as players, and you try to visualise what it’s going to be like and what it’s going to feel like,” Rahm said.
“And when I hit that third shot onto the green, and I could tell it was close by the crowd’s reaction, just the wave of emotion of so many things just overtook me. Never thought I was going to cry by winning a golf tournament, but I got very close on that 18th hole.
“A lot of it was because of what it means to me, and to Spanish golf. It’s Spain’s 10th major, I’m the fourth [Spanish] player to win The Masters, and it is my second Major win, right, it’s pretty incredible,” added the 2021 US Open winner.
“To play the way I did on Sunday, only one bogey in difficult conditions and coming in with a margin of [four shots] is hard to explain. A lot of pride, and I am really proud of myself and what I did.”
Adding to the emotion was the knowledge that his victory had come on what would have been the late Spanish great Seve Ballesteros’s 66th birthday and the 40th anniversary of his second Masters triumph.
“This one was for Seve. He was up there helping, and help he did,” said Rahm.
But on the immaculate fairways and greens of a course which had dried out after two days of rain interruptions, there was little sign of feelings bubbling inside the 28-year-old.
For those in awe of his steely demeanor, Rahm said his heart certainly had been pounding.
“What is going on on the outside is not always a reflection of the inside,” he said. “I was calm. I never got frustrated. I never really felt like anything was out of control. But obviously, you’re nervous. There’s tension out there.”
A bogey on the ninth hole, just as Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson were making a charge, certainly sent his pulse racing.
“That made those 10, 11, 12 holes harder. Again, I might have looked calm, but I was definitely, nervous out there. I’m glad that’s the way it looked. That’s what you strive for, right? You don’t want to panic, and I never panicked. I felt comfortable with my game, and I had a plan to execute, and that’s all I can do,” he said.
The moments when a dream becomes reality. #themasters pic.twitter.com/A0uBDsIrdz
— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 9, 2023
On the Tour, Rahm has a reputation as a battler, as a player whose head won’t drop even when things go against him and he didn’t dispute that description.
“We put in a lot of effort to try to beat the best guys in the world. So maybe that level of intensity and that determination is what you see and that’s why I’m characterised as a fighter. I’m never going to give up,” he said.
Rahm became the first European to win both the US Open and The Masters, an achievement he wasn’t aware of until it was put to him in his news conference.
“Out of all the accomplishments and the many great players that have come before me, to be the first to do something like that, it’s a very humbling feeling,” he said.
“I still can’t believe I’m the first. That is a pretty good duo of Majors.”
© Agence France-Presse