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Jon Rahm responds to Brooks Koepka’s criticism: Needed to ‘let off some steam’

GUIDONIA MONTCELIO, Italy – Jon Rahm didn’t necessarily disagree with Brooks Koepka’s assessment Friday night that the fiery Spaniard acted “like a child” during a crucial match at the Ryder Cup, but he added that the brief outburst was what he needed to perform his best.

Providing context to the incident a day later, Rahm said that he hit a sign on his way to the 18th tee after leaving his 10-foot birdie putt short on the previous green during their Friday afternoon fourballs match.

Koepka seemed to take exception with Rahm’s behavior in a short post-match interview, moments after Rahm slammed home a 30-footer for eagle that stole a crucial half-point from the Americans. The Europeans led by five points at the end of the first day.

“I want to hit a board and pout just like Jon Rahm did,” Koepka told a pool reporter. “But it is what it is. Act like a child. But we’re adults. We move on.”

Koepka wasn’t made available to the media, and neither team captain had any idea to what Koepka was referring.

Rahm was only made aware of Koepka’s critical comments after friends sent him screenshots of the quotes that had appeared on social media.

“I’m not going to stand here and say I’m the perfect example of what to do on the golf course. I don’t think either of us two are,” Rahm said, turning to his combustible foursomes partner, Tyrrell Hatton, after a 2-and-1 victory on Saturday morning that extended the Europeans’ lead. “But I play and compete the way that I think that I need to play and compete.

“If Brooks thinks that’s childish, it is what it is. He’s entitled to think what he thinks.”

Rahm said that particular incident – “I let off some frustration, hitting the board sideways” – paled in comparison to some of his other on-course explosions, especially earlier in his career.

“I’m very comfortable with who I am and what I do,” Rahm said. “I’ve done much worse on a golf course like that. That doesn’t even register to a low level of Jon anger on the golf course. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very happy with who I am, and I needed to do that at that moment to let off some steam and play the hole I wanted to do.

“Clearly, it worked out – I played two great shots and got a little lucky on the putt. I needed to do what I needed to do to perform under those circumstances. Is it right or wrong, childish or not, I don’t know, but that’s what I needed at the moment.”

Rahm and Koepka were paired together this year at Augusta National, where Rahm overtook the five-time major champion on the final day to win the Masters. Rahm said there’d always been “mutual respect” between the two.

“I’ve never had an issue with Brooks,” he said. “Up until yesterday afternoon, I thought we had a pretty good relationship. We’re both straight-up people that don’t like the BS in between. There’s always been that mutual respect. He’s always been an incredible player, and he’s always done amazing things.

“Listen, had I seen somebody make the putt on 18 the way I did, I wouldn’t have been the happiest of people either. I think it could be attributed to it being a long day and seeing what happened on the last three holes that we did.”