A week ago he was Amateur World number one and preparing for his first major, now Jon Rahm finds himself at the top of the leaderboard of a PGA Tour event in his first outing as a professional.
The 21-year-old enjoyed Oakmont Country Club last week and was the only amateur to make the cut, eventually ending in a tie for 23rd place. He carried this momentum through to the first round of the Quicken Loans National and shot 64 top lead by one stroke.
‘I was anticipating this moment,’ said the 21-year-old Spaniard. ‘I [have been] working on it [for] a long time that I kind of blacked out a little bit. I don’t remember a single swing I made all day or any putting stroke or anything. I just remember the ball flying or rolling.’
‘I didn’t want to think this was going to be easy,’ Rahm added. ‘Obviously it’s not. It’s a PGA Tour event at one of the iconic courses. It’s obviously hard for me to keep my expectations down after a good tournament last week, but I did it and I managed to stay relaxed and get a good round going.’
He took a liking to the Congressional Country Club layout and hit 80 percent of his fairways and 78 percent of greens in regulation.
Rahm proved to be just as productive on the greens as he rolled in seven birdies to make the clubhouse in first place. The two-time Ben Hogan Award winner highlighted his round by sinking a a 30-foot monster on the fifth (his 14th of the day).
‘It was a good putt, probably the best I hit all day,’ he said. ‘I had two par-fives coming in and a short par-four, so if I finished strongly, it could be a good round.’
Rahm admitted that he had received a few pointers from none other than Jack Nicklaus before teeing up in Maryland this week.
‘Jack knows a lot about golf and a lot about life, he’s got so much experience and he never said anything complicated. He told me to just be myself and to not try to do more than what I can do. I certainly put that on show today and I played probably some of the best golf I can,’ he said.
Rahm had previously competed in several PGA Tour events as an amateur and tied for fifth at last season’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. This season he tied for 10th at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
He’ll look to be in contention come Sunday, especially after shooting 64 in his debut professional round.