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Sport: Swear words aside, world No. 1 Jon Rahm doesn't back off on criticism of PGA Tour setup last week

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SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm stood his ground.

Jon Rahm © Provided by Golfweek Jon Rahm

Last week en route to finishing in a tie for 14th in the American Express, the world No. 1 was caught on video voicing his extreme displeasure with the course setup in what is annually a birdie-fest in the Palm Springs area, one he captured in 2018.

As he walked from a green to a tee at the Nicklaus Course at PGA West during the second round, Rahm, who wears his emotions on his golf sleeve and has improved his ability to reign in his temperament that has gotten the better of himself a few times over the years, went off with an eight-word out burst with two expletives that made the video go viral.

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“Piece of (blank) (blank) setup. Putting-contest week,” he said.

Ahead of Wednesday’s start of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, Rahm didn’t offer up a straight-out apology. Yes, he admitted Tuesday his language should have been different. But he’s not apologizing for his take on the setup.

“If I knew somebody was recording, I wouldn’t say it the way I did, but I was just thinking out loud and letting some frustration out because that’s what I felt, right?” Rahm said. “I mean, the video’s pretty self-explanatory. I mean, we’re the PGA Tour, we’re the best golfers on the planet and we’re playing a golf course where missing the fairway means absolutely nothing.

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“There were times where missing the fairway by an inch was worse than missing the fairway by 20 yards, that to me is a mistake. I also understand we’re in the desert, you can’t overseed the entire golf course and things like that can’t happen, but yeah, we played a lot of golf with zero rough.

“No matter where you hit it, you’re going to be able to hit it on the green and it becomes a putting contest, who can make the putts. That’s about it, there’s no premium for anything else.

“I can tell you right now with the way I struck the ball last week and the way I putted, if it was in, let’s say, major championship conditions, I probably wouldn’t have made the cut, let alone finish 14th, or I shouldn’t have, I believe. I just think it was a bit too easy for the best players in the world.

“That’s just my opinion.”

Rahm won’t be disappointed in this week’s setup at Torrey Pines. There will be rough on both the South and North courses, there will be a premium put on every club in the bag, there will be a challenge.

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In other words, it’s right up Rahm’s alley.

The South Course, after all, hosted last year’s U.S. Open, which Rahm won by one with birdies on the 71st and 72nd holes. He also won his first PGA Tour title in the Farmers in 2017 and has five top 10s in all in six starts at Torrey Pines.

Rahm also got engaged to his wife, Kelley, on the hiking trails near Torrey Pines.

“It is a golf course that I love, it’s a city that I love. Obviously have great memories all throughout my career here, my latest win being here as well,” he said. “Just very excited to be here. It’s one of those weeks that I look forward to every year. Looks like the weather’s going to be great as it almost always is in San Diego and hopefully I can put in another strong performance like I have in the past.”

Odds are he will. Rahm, 27, has won in Ireland, Spain, Dubai, California, Illinois and Ohio the past three years. He has six PGA Tour titles, another six on the DP world Tour. He’s been the No. 1 player in the world since July.

“Feeling confident, feeling comfortable,” he said. “Last week was not my best week, didn’t feel good swing-wise. Putting felt about as bad as it can feel and I somehow still managed to sneak in a top 15, so that gives me a lot of confidence knowing what I’m working on is going on the right track and when I’m having a bad week I can still post a score.

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“Hopefully I can tidy up a couple details in the next few weeks, but hopefully I can start playing well this week.”

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