With all eyes on Tiger Woods, it was Jon Rahm who grabbed the first-round lead and the accolades at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
Woods opened with a grinding 70 after going out on the South course. Three back nine birdies certainly helped his cause, but the 14-time Major champion was pleased with his first competitive effort in a couple of months.
‘I probably could have shot something around 68 or 67 today pretty easily,’ Woods said.
‘I hit a lot of good putts that were around the hole that just didn’t quite fall in. Overall, shooting a couple under par on the South course is not so bad, but now I’m forced to have to shoot a low one tomorrow just like most of the field did over there today.’
Rahm, though, continues to shine when Tiger is expected to make the big news.
The Spaniard famously defeated Woods at the Ryder Cup and then won the Hero World Challenge hosted by Woods.
He started well on Thursday – with an eagle, to be precise – before going on to post a 10-under par 62 for a one shot lead over England’s Justin Rose.
‘I don’t think you ever tee up on any course at Torrey Pines expecting to shoot 10-under par,’ said Rahm, who won at Torrey two years ago for his first PGA TOUR title.
Rose, playing in the group behind him, also opened with an eagle and did his best to keep up. He played bogey-free for a 63 and finished with a birdie. Rose played in the same group as Jordan Spieth (65) and Billy Horschel (66), a group that combined for 21 birdies and two eagles, a better-ball score of 59.
‘They told us our combined group was the lowest,’ Spieth said. ‘I’m glad, because if there were lower than that, it means everybody went low.’
Rory McIlroy (71) and Rickie Fowler (73) have some work to do as they move to the North course on Friday.
South Africa’a trio face an important second round, with Branden Grace shooting -2 on the North and Dylan Frittelli, with four bogeys, being forced to settle for an even-par 72.
Charl Schwartzel hit 12 of 18 greens on the South course for a 2-under par 70.
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