NORTON, Mass. – So much for respecting your elders.
Jon Rahm, 22, is playing TPC Boston for the first time this week at the Dell Technologies Championship and the rookie already feels right at home on the course. After a 66 on Saturday, he is also atop the leaderboard by two at 9 under.
“It does fit my eye. I mean, I think it’s a great golf course. After what we played last week, with the rough we had last week, anything seems simple,” the Spaniard said. “You can tell it’s a ballstriker’s course because, on every green, there’s little sections for the pin to be at.”
Rahm added, “Being precise off the fairway, it’s going to give you some close birdie putts, which luckily for me has been happening.”
Starting on the 10th tee, Rahm was 2 over through seven holes Saturday morning, making a bogey on 12 and a double on 16. Then, after getting up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the 17th, Rahm demonstrated his tremendous power by hitting a 309-yard 3-wood off the 18th tee that left him just 200 yards from the hole on the par 5. He hoisted his approach shot as high as he could, let the left-to-right wind carry the ball to the flag and drained a 12-foot putt for an eagle that jump-started his round.
“Me and Adam (Hayes, Rahm’s caddie) kept saying let’s keep playing and hitting good shots. We’re going to get the breaks at some point,” Rahm said. “You know, it happened on 18, and luckily the putts kept going in, and the shots ended up being more what we expected.”
After making the turn, Rahm reeled off five birdies on the front nine and walked into the clubhouse as the leader of the second event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
He was not, however, the only player to shoot a low round on a day when the wind was down at TPC Boston. Adam Hadwin shot a 65, that also included an eagle on the 18th hole, to finish two behind Rahm at 7 under.
“The putter has been rolling. It saved me a bunch,” said the Canadian who won the Valspar Championship in March and shot a 59 at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January. “I made a ton of putts. You know, anything can happen on the weekend now, so I’m in a good position for the event.”
Paul Casey also shot 65 to finish at 7 under. Like Rahm, he is a big fan of TPC Boston.
“It’s a cool track. I think you’ve got to move the ball around a little bit because there’s some trees that get in the way. The greens (have) tiny little areas to hit,” he said. “Johnny (McLaren, Casey’s caddie) has been wearing his Patriots socks, so we have most of the crowd on our side, which helps.”
Phil Mickelson used his marvelous shortgame and some timely putting of his own to shoot 67 and finish the day at 6 under, three shots behind Rahm.
“It’s fun to get in contention,” said the 47-year-old Hall of Famer. “It’s fun to start shooting some scores that I feel like I’ve been playing well enough to shoot.”
Jordan Spieth also rebounded from a 1-over 72 on Friday with a 65 of his own to finish at 5 under.
“It was a bad day at the office yesterday and a really good one today,” Spieth said. “I’m going to need two really good ones again. But to be within four shots after yesterday’s round is a tremendous accomplishment on its own. Just going to need to keep the birdies coming.”
Some players who made the cut, which was 145 (3 over), are still sitting above the No. 70 spot on the FedEx Cup point list, so they need a good finish to move up. Only the top 70 golfers on the list qualify for the next round of the playoffs, the BMW Championships outside Chicago in two weeks.
Notable among them are Jonas Blixt, who is tied for 34th at 1 under. The Swede started at No. 84 on the list and is projected to only rise to No. 81. Emiliano Grillo is also at 1 under, but the Argentine is projected to move only from No. 77 to No. 71. Bubba Watson made the cut by shooting 70 Saturday to finish at 3 over, but he is projected to fall from 72 to 80 on the list.
Branden Grace started the week at No. 99 and is at 4 under after a bogey-free 64 Saturday. He is currently projected to finish at No. 70 on the list.
On the other end of the spectrum, some PGA Tour players saw their seasons end on Saturday. Ryan Moore, who shot 82 and then withdrew on Friday, fell from No. 61 to No. 72 on the FedEx Cup points list. Danny Lee shot 75-74 and missed the cut, which resulted in dropping from 62nd to a projected 73rd. Adam Scott’s 75 also resulted in a missed cut that projects him to drop from 73rd to 83rd on the list.