Augusta - Jon Rahm won't apologize for his passion on the golf course, but the
fiery Spaniard may find it easier to stay on an even keel at Augusta
National thanks to the counsel of three-time Masters champion Phil
"He repeatedly said: 'You don't have to play perfect at Augusta
National to win,'" Rahm said of the advice he has received from
Mickelson over the past two years.
"And I started thinking, 'I always thought you need to play really, really, really quality golf to win a major championship.
"And he said, 'Yeah, but you don't have to play perfect.'"
It's a lesson the seventh-ranked Spaniard will be keeping in mind as
he tackles the Masters for a third time, trying to improve on a
fourth-placed finish last year.
"Augusta National is always going to allow you, is going to give you a
chance to come back," he said. "And if you're smart and know how to
play the golf course, you're going to have a chance to make pars or even
birdies from some situations that you think you wouldn't be able to."
Rahm, 24, has been criticized for letting his emotions get the better of him when things don't go his way on the course.
Asked Tuesday -- for what he irritably judged "the 10,000th time" --
if there was a point at which his intensity becomes a hindrance rather
than a help he said he didn't know.
"It's just the way I am," he said. "I'm a very passionate person in everything I do, for the good and the bad.
"A second of losing is going to be way worse than a thousand days of
winning, and that's how it's going to always be in my mind," he said.
So Rahm's temper was tested last month at the Players Championship,
where he took a one-shot lead into the final round and was tied for the
lead when he pulled his drive into a fairway bunker at 11.
Urged by caddie Adam Hayes to lay up, he opted to go for the green
and ended up in the water -- just one low point in a tough round that
included three bogeys in his first four holes.
Things didn't get any easier as the disappointing round concluded, with fans trying to goad him into an outburst.
"The old Jon would have lost it," he admitted at the time, although he'll only button himself down so far.
"I'm not a robot," Rahm said. "I'm not an emotionless person."
And, he noted, great players including Seve Ballesteros and Tiger Woods have shown plenty of emotion on the course.
"Some of the best players in their generations were able to show and use it to their advantage," he said.
"There's something about people like me where things get difficult and the pressure's on, those emotions help."