LOS ANGELES: Spain’s Jon Rahm is excited heading into the US PGA CareerBuilder Challenge that tees off Thursday (Friday in Manila) on three courses in the Palm Springs, California desert.
Last week, he was second at Kapalua in Hawaii, last year’s easiest course on tour. This week, he plays the two next-easiest courses from 2017 — the Nicklaus and LaQuinta — as well as the PGA West Stadium Course, all par-72 layouts.
And next week, Rahm defends his first US PGA title at Torrey Pines near San Diego after a long break since a November victory at the World Tour Championship in Dubai.
“Oh man, I’m really trying not to think about next week,” Rahm said Wednesday. “I’m feeling good. Really good. I feel like those five weeks off after Dubai not doing much was really good for my body. Trying to take things real easy, make sure I’m rested for the year.”
Rahm’s top goal for the year is an improved showing at the majors. The 23-year-old has yet to crack the top 20 at any of the four top events.
“I want to play a little better in the majors,” he said. “I don’t know why last year things didn’t happen in the majors — maybe it was the few weeks a year that I played bad, but hopefully I’ll play good on those weeks and maybe see if I can get in contention in one of them.
“Besides that, try to keep things going, try to keep playing good and hopefully do a better year than I did last year.”
Rahm was 27th in his Masters debut, missed the cut at the US Open, won the Irish Open ahead of a 44th-place effort at the British Open and was 58th in his PGA Championship debut.
Rahm has learned about pacing himself and juggling tour life on the US and European circuits in the past year.
“When I came here last year this I think was my fourth event as a PGA Tour member so everything was still kind of new to me,” Rahm said. “I did feel like a rookie, trying to learn as it went.
“After what I’ve done I just feel a lot more comfortable. I have what I didn’t have then, which is a developed routine of what to do each week.
“The practice and working on your swing and working your technique and working on things should be done before the tournament so that’s what I’ve done. I do it before the tournament. You come here you just learn the golf course and that’s it.”
Rahm says he plans to keep coming to the early season western US events even if it trims his rest time after Dubai.
“There will probably be a year in the future where I do go to Dubai and maybe not play those, but not yet,” Rahm said. “In my case, this is way too much fun to give up.”