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Jon Rahm eyeing the biggest prizes after major disappointment last season

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Jon Rahm has set his sights firmly on more major championship victories after a disappointing season in the game’s biggest events.

Rahm became the first Spanish player to win the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2021, a year in which he also finished fifth in the Masters, eighth in the US PGA Championship and third in the Open.

It was a different story in 2022 with the former world number one failing to record a top-10 in any of the four majors, a best finish of 12th in the defence of his US Open title coming after a closing four-over-par 74 at Brookline.

Rahm did win three times in 2022 but, speaking at a press conference ahead of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, said: “I set my goals every year and I’m pretty ambitious so I’m not always going to accomplish everything I set my mind out to.

“It can be tough in a sport where the most accomplished athlete of all time won 30 per cent of the time, right? That being Tiger (Woods).

“I think there’s a lot of things you can do well as an athlete and as a player to consider a positive year. Obviously, you want to win events. That’s there. The only thing I didn’t do last year that I wish I would have done is compete better in majors and give myself a better chance.

“So obviously that being a goal this year, hopefully get number two and give Spain another major.”

Asked to explain his relatively poor performances in the majors, Rahm added: “I was close at the US Open. I was one back, I just had a bad final round.

“I don’t think there’s a way to explain it. For people that may not believe it, I battled my swing most of the year. I wasn’t as comfortable as I was the year prior and that showed.

“Then when you go to major championship golf where you need to be better in every single way, those mistakes are going to show. It seems like in the fall things got going a little bit better.

“I felt like for the most part I was playing better than scores were showing. Maybe once the PGA Tour season was over I took some time off and reset and that’s why I played well in the fall.”

Rahm shot an incredible 33 under par in the Tournament of Champions last year but was beaten to the title by a shot by Cameron Smith, whose winning total set a new PGA Tour record.

Smith went on to win the Players Championship at Sawgrass and the Open Championship at St Andrews, but is unable to defend his title in Hawaii after being suspended by the PGA Tour for joining LIV Golf.

Such sanctions have not been copied by the majors and 16 players on the Saudi-funded breakaway are currently eligible for April’s Masters, including former champions Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel and Bubba Watson.

“One thing I keep going back to, and it’s probably only funny to me, but I think the Masters Champions Dinner is going to be a little tense compared to how it’s been in the past,” Rahm added with a smile.

“I keep thinking about it because I wish I could be there and just be able to see how things work out. Too bad the US Open doesn’t have one of those.”

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