ASU Sun Devil Rahm fires up Phoenix crowd


Arizona State's Jon Rahm. (Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – While Phil Mickelson left town earlier than expected, fans at the Waste Management Phoenix Open still have a Sun Devil to root for on the leaderboard.

Arizona State junior Jon Rahm, playing on a sponsor exemption, is on the first page of the leaderboard at 9 under, tied for fifth, four shots behind Martin Laird.

“Not my home course, but it definitely feels like home,” Rahm said after a third-round 66. “There is a lot of Sun Devil supporters out there, and it’s great to hear them cheer me up.”

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No. 3 in the world amateur rankings, in 2013 Rahm set a record with an opening 61 at the NCAA Championships. Last year the Spaniard was medalist at the World Amateur, breaking a scoring record set by Jack Nicklaus.

On Saturday, Rahm beat playing partners Keegan Bradley (71) and Brandt Snedeker (70) by a combined nine shots, a feat made even more impressive considering Rahm has been battling a stomach virus the past two days.

“Anything I eat, it feels bad,” he said. “I think I ate half a burrito and half an omelet since yesterday morning. I’m just trying to drink a lot of liquids and get the virus out of me.”

Rahm elicited cheers at No. 16 when he emerged from the tunnel wearing a No. 42 Sun Devils jersey - the number worn by former Arizona State football star and fallen veteran Pat Tillman – with Rahm’s nickname, “Rahmbo,” on the back.

“Honestly I just feel for any ASU fan, just whatever ASU I wear it’s going to pump them up,” he said. “It’s so special, 42, Pat Tillman’s number is so special at ASU, it’s something we all have deep inside.”