PGA: Rahm fires 62 to lead Farmers
Jon Rahm took advantage of favorable scoring conditions on the North Course at Torrey Pines on Thursday to shoot a 10-under par 62 and claim a one-shot lead after the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.
Starting on the back nine, the Spaniard eagled his first hole, added another eagle at the par-5 17th and made the turn in 7-under 29. The lone blemish on his scorecard was a bogey on the par-3 third hole, but Rahm reeled off four consecutive birdies from Nos. 5-8 to reach 10-under.
England's Justin Rose also blistered the North Course, which played well more than two shots easier on average than the South Course in the first round. The world's top-ranked player fired a 9-under 63 to share second place with PGA Tour rookie Doug Ghim.
Taiwan's C.T. Pan is in solo fourth place at 8 under (64, North Course), with Jordan Spieth (65, North Course) another shot off the pace.
Top scores on the South Course were turned in by Brandon Hagy, Chris Stroud and Charles Howell III, who all posted 66 to tie for sixth place at 6-under along with Bud Cauley, Richy Werenski, Billy Horschel, John Chin, Chile's Joaquin Niemann and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama.
Defending champion Jason Day (67, North Course) is in a group of players tied for 15th at 5-under. The Australian played the back nine in 4-under but mixed three birdies on the front with a pair of bogeys.
Tigers Woods was on the South Course while making his 2019 debut. He recovered from a bogey on the second hole with a pair of birdies before making the turn. After trading a pair of birdies and bogeys on the back nine he was able to birdie the par-5 18th to post a 2-under 70.
The players will alternate courses on Friday, with those who make the cut playing the final two rounds on the South Course.
Rahm's first PGA Tour victory came at Torrey Pines in 2017, and he entered this week as one of the hottest players on the planet. Ranked No. 6, Rahm has finished in the top eight in each of his past three worldwide starts, including a victory at the Hero World Challenge last month.
"It's definitely a golf course that suits my strengths," Rahm told The Golf Channel. "You gotta strike it well off the tee and really well with the irons, and that's what I did all day.
"And, you know, taking superb advantage of the par-5s is where everything got together. Didn't make many mistakes and the ones I made, I was able to fix rather quickly. And some of them actually ended up making birdie, so there was a lot of good momentum going on."
Rose anticipates much more difficult scoring conditions on the South Course, which he prefers to the "target golf" at last week's Desert Classic in La Quinta, Calif.
"I think it's one of my favorite places, one of my favorite stops on tour," Rose told The Golf Channel. "The South Course now, I'm looking forward to getting some momentum on that one. We get to play it three days in a row, so it's nice to get the North out of the way, shoot a good score, which is what you have to do, but now I can focus on the South course.
"I've done well historically on tracks that are a little bit more difficult, so I was really looking forward to getting here this week and playing some good, testing golf. But obviously you've got the South course to come now, so you're going to have to be right on your game the next three days."
Rose is also adjusting to a new putter along with his switch to Honma clubs.
"Drove it unbelievably well today," he said. "Drove it long, was able to take advantage of the par-5s out there, and putted it well enough to shoot 9-under.
"The North greens are still so good. Obviously, they're a couple of years old, but they're still rolling pure. So it's the kind of golf course you feel like you want to make the most of on a day like today."
Spieth entered the week having missed his past two cuts and without at top-10 finish since last year's Open Championship. He was another to get it going early on the North Course, but also knows a much stiffer challenge awaits on Friday.
"I putted the ball beautifully," Spieth told The Golf Channel. "They changed those greens on the North to the bentgrass since the last time I was here. Found a really nice rhythm. Was able to save some holes and was able to capitalize on the holes where I did have birdie putts.
"I kind of hit it all over the place, just made it work. That doesn't work on the South Course, so I've got to improve certainly off the tee tomorrow. And just keep the same rhythm with the putter."