June 23, 2016
There’s a fresh face on the PGA Tour leaderboards, as Jon Rahm needed little time to adjust to the professional ranks. Here is how things look after the first round of the Quicken Loans National, where Rahm holds a one-shot lead:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-7), Jhonattan Vegas (-6), Jamie Lovemark (-5), Kyle Reifers (-5), Bill Haas (-5), Ernie Els (-5), Camilo Villegas (-5), Harold Varner III (-5), Billy Hurley III (-5), Wesley Bryan (-5)
What it means: Early rain pushed back the start of play, but once players got to the course it was Rahm who quickly distanced from the pack in his first round as a professional. Days after securing low amateur honors at the U.S. Open, he now leads a PGA Tour event over a chase pack that includes Haas, who won this event in 2013, and Els, who won the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional.
Round of the day: Rahm started on the back nine and made the turn in 32, but he credited a 30-foot birdie as the catalyst to his round. That putt led to two more birdies in the next three holes, as the Spaniard carded seven total birdies on the day without dropping a single shot after finding 14 of 18 greens in regulation.
Best of the rest: Vegas is in the midst of a resurgent season, and he continued that trend Thursday with a 6-under 65 that featured only one bogey. Vegas played his first seven holes in even before catching fire, following birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 with four more birdies over the final seven holes of his round, a run he capped with a 6-foot birdie on No. 18.
Biggest disappointment: Fresh off his runner-up finish at Oakmont, Jim Furyk wasn’t able to build on that momentum en route to a 2-over 73 at Congressional. Furyk tallied five bogeys on the day, including bogeys on the next hole following each of his three birdies. He now trails Rahm by nine shots and has work to do simply to make the cut.
Main storyline heading into Friday: The player to watch is Rahm, who appears to be following in the footsteps of Bryson DeChambeau in terms of following low amateur honors with a scintillating pro debut. DeChambeau ended up T-4 at the RBC Heritage in April, and Rahm might be able to do even better at an event that will hand out four invites to the upcoming Open Championship. Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed, two of the tournament’s biggest names, are both four shots back at 3 under.
Quote of the day: “He told me to just be myself and to not try to do more than what I can do.” – Rahm on the advice he received from Jack Nicklaus Sunday at the U.S. Open.