The 23-year old Spaniard managed an eagle and eight birdies on the La Quinta course and one of three host venues for this week’s $US 6.2m opening event of the PGA Tour’s ‘West Coast Swing’.
Rahm’s effort was two strokes fewer than a prior best of 64 on the opening day of the 2016 Quicken Loans Championship and handed him a one-stroke lead over American’s Austin Cook, Jason Kokrak and Andrew Landry.
The World No3 Rahm had ended 2017 being named European Tour ‘Rookie of the Year’ and five days later he captured the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Rahm, who is among just six European player in this week’s
156-player field, then commenced only his second full season with a second place finish behind Dustin Johnson in the Sentry Tournament of Champion and now, and a week prior to his defence of the Farmers Insurance Open, he has immediately put himself into contention for a second victory in the space of three tournaments.
“My score today is all thanks to the start I had as I was 6-under through seven holes and with a couple of missed putts,” he said.
“Any time you have that kind of a round going for you, you get thoughts coming into your head of a 60, maybe a 59, and as Adam Hadwin did last year.
“I hit great shots into one and two for birdie and then hit a great shot into the par-5 fifth hole to set-up the eagle and just kind of kept it going, staying patient, as I knew I had birdie opportunities coming up.”
Indeed, Rahm went to 6-under with back-to-back birdie at six and seven and then moved to 9-under par with birdies on 11, 13 and 14 before signing for his 62 when he birdied the last.
“I do feel as though I could have made a few more birdie putts, just because I had so many that were makeable, but there’s a couple of birdie putts, like the one on 14, and if I am being honest, I did not hit the line as I had wanted and it still went in dead centre,” he said.
“So it’s just golf. It’s going to give you what it takes from you.
“Overall, you have got to look at the bigger picture, birdie the last hole, a couple of great sand saves coming in, and I shot 10-under.
“There’s not much more I can ask for.”
Phil Mickelson welcomed-in his 26th year in the play-for-pay ranks racing to four-under par through six holes but then his closing 11 holes in two-over in a round of a two-under par 70.
The 46-year old returned to competition for a first occasion since October’s WGC- HSBC Championship in China.
“It was fun to get back out and be competitive but for some strange reason I am stuck on 70 at La Quinta whether or not I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score,” he said.
Source : EXPRESS