It didn’t take Jon Rahm long to recover from the disappointment of falling just short of winning the Masters. Four days after finishing fourth in the year’s first major, the World No. 4 is back in contention to win his national championship.
Rahm cast off jet lag to post a 5-under 67 in the opening round of the $1.8 million Spanish Open at Centro National de Golf in Madrid. He sits one shot off the lead held by Scotland’s Marc Warren and Paul Dunne of Ireland.
“I played a lot better than I expected, especially off the tee,” Rahm said. “My driver was really good today – the driver alone set up two birdies on 13 and on seven.
“Things like that are obviously a bonus. Too bad that I couldn’t make a couple of putts, but I guess it’s happening to everyone. The greens aren’t easy to read. Still, 5 under par is fine. Hopefully I can keep playing the same way to the green and make some putts for the rest of the week.”
Rahm arrived in the Spanish capital as one of the favorites along with compatriot Rafa Cabrera Bello, the World No. 24. They’re the two highest ranked players in the field. Cabrera Bello returned a 1-over 73, and will need three good rounds if he’s to deny Rahm a victory.
While Cabrera Bello struggled, amateur Victor Pastor put pressure on Rahm for the honor of low Spaniard. The 23-year-old matched Rahm’s 67 to belie his World Amateur Golf Ranking status. He’s 113th on the WAGR table.
“It is a good start in a great tournament,” Pastor said. “As an amateur it is a bit distressing because you don’t play your course or tournament but it feels good.
“I’m trying to enjoy all my time here. It’s a good experience for me if I turn pro.”
Warren is looking for his fourth European Tour victory, and first since 2014. Dunne is hoping to make the Spanish Open his second victory. The former UAB player shot a closing 61 in last year’s British Masters to better Rory McIlroy’s 63 and beat the four-time major winner by three shots.