Jon Rahm (13/10 – 2nd Round 3 Balls) proved too good for Tiger Woods (13/10) again with a three-under-par opening round of 69 on Thursday and will go in search of his third ‘win’ in succession over the 14-time major champion at the Masters in round two.
The Spaniard, who beat Woods 2&1 on the final day singles at last year’s Ryder Cup, seems to cope well with the almost unique atmosphere that surrounds the American on golf courses when huge, noisy galleries attach themselves to his group.
Rahm, although satisfied with his round, knows he can still improve as he looks to fire himself into contention for his first major this weekend.
“I did not have my best game today but if you had told me before I started that I was going to card my fourth round below 70 I would think it was a great feat,” said Rahm.
The 24-year-old finished in fourth place last year at Augusta National, fighting from a long way back after shooting an opening-round 75.
His name was at the top of the leaderboard when he signed for the 69 but later US Open champion Brooks Koeka and Bryson DeChambeau made late surges to card the day’s best rounds of 66.
“Today, it’s just kind of the start,” added Rahm, “Trying to get the tournament going. Hopefully you get yourself in position. It’s a huge bonus to be in the lead – it’s an amazing feeling.
“I’m just happy I shot under par in the first round of the tournament.”
Unlike Woods, who dropped a shot at the par-four 17th, Rahm’s card was clean on a bogey-free back nine that included birdies on two holes around Amen Corner – the 11th and 13th.
“I think that the most important thing is I never lost patience,” Rahm said. “I was 1-over par on the par 5s going to the back nine where it’s easy to get a little frustrated and I didn’t. I kept my cool and I was able to make a great birdie on nine and get where I’m going.”
“I didn’t have my best, I was a little shaky with the driver, I was able to keep it in the fairway for the better part today,” Rahm said. “My iron play also didn’t feel the best, but again I was able to manage it and hit some quality shots out there.”
Last year, rounds of 65 on Saturday and a 69 on Sunday, shot Rahm (12/1 Winner – Masters 2019) up the leaderboard to finish four shots behind winner Patrick Reed.
Odds subject to change.