Jon Rahm hoping to join the ranks of European Tour legends in Open de Espana hat-trick quest

Club de Campo Villa de Madrid will witness the World No. 1’s attempt to emulate the great Severiano Ballesteros this week.

Severiano Ballesteros.

Sir Nick Faldo.

Ian Woosnam.

Colin Montgomerie.

Four of the biggest names in European golf and this week Jon Rahm has a golden opportunity to join them in the record books.

The 26-year-old first won the Open de Espana in 2018, he successfully defended his title in 2019, the event was cancelled in 2020, this week he is hoping to complete a hat-trick of triumphs.

Victory would draw him alongside Ballesteros as the only three-time winner of the tournament in the European Tour era.

Meanwhile, the three-peat would be only the fourth in the circuit's history (not counting Majors and WGCs), following those completed by Faldo, Woosnam and Montgomerie.

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"It would be very unique," he said in error (but in his second language and we entirely understand the gist of his meaning).

"I know names like Ollie (José María Olazábal), he couldn't win it and I know he would have loved to have done it.

"I would hope to be able to get to a third not only to tie Seve but to win it three times in a row.

"It doesn't matter what event it is, not many people have been able to win one three times in a row so I'm hoping I can get it done - it would be truly my honour.

"Coming back home, that's important. It's very fun to play in front of the crowd, they're very golf hungry in this country.

"Especially after Covid and the pandemic they haven't really had the opportunity to enjoy many sporting events so I'm hoping we can put on a good show for them."

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Three is clearly a magic number this week.

Not only is Rahm on his quest, but the Tour is also starting a three-part Spanish Swing.

Next week Rahm will play in the Estrella Damn NA Andalucia Masters at Valderrama, a week later the circuit trundles on to Golf Santa Ponsa for the Mallorca Golf Open.

"For a Spanish player they are important," Rahm said of this week's venue and next's. "Both of them are iconic. I have a chance to win three in a row here and then Valderrama is Valderrama.

"It's an iconic golf course, an iconic stop on the European Tour, and it would be amazing to get my first win there."

First, however, he chases that hat-trick. Let's take a closer look at his numbers.

Rahm in Spain

He's teed it up four times in European Tour events in his home country.

He missed the cut in his first at Valderrama in 2017, he won the Open de Espana at Centro Nacional in 2018, was second on his return to Valderrama in 2019, and then defended the Open title later that same year at this week's course.

Rahm in regular European Tour events

Not counting the Majors and the World Golf Championship (elite events), his European Tour record is extraordinary.

He's made 16 starts, with 11 top fives finishes, six of them wins.

Rahm in numbers and rankings

Over the last three years on the European Tour his adjusted stroke average is 9.12 per four rounds better than the second-best player in this week's field.

Not only is he the World No. 1, he's also the only player in the field ranked in the top 50 - and only six others are in the top 100.

Taking all of the above into account it is perhaps little wonder the bookies are running scared.

Rahm in round one

He's tied the first round lead in three of his last four starts which prompts ideas of getting a bigger price for a quick start than in the outright.

Beware, however: first of all, he last landed a full first round lead payout in July 2019, and also he is yet to land a solo or shared first round lead of any kind in Europe.

What about in his first round three-ball?

He's up against Bernd Wiesberger and Victor Perez and those numbers are far more agreeable.

The trio have started 16 of the same strokeplay events and Rahm leads the first round head-to-head-to-head 10-2-2 (and all rounds 27-6-8).

READ MORE: Nine players seeking a first win on the PGA Tour: Can they hit the big time in Las Vegas?

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