Many players in this week's DDF Irish Open are seeing Portstewart Golf Club for the first time. But for Jon Rahm, it's simply business as usual.
Rahm has feasted all year against elite competition while often playing courses for the first time. That trend continued Thursday when the Spaniard fired a 7-under 65 alongside tournament host Rory McIlroy to sit just one shot behind the lead set by American Daniel Im.
Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 4 under. He ultimately carded six birdies and an eagle against just one bogey, including three birdies in a row on Nos. 13-15 to equal the scores shot earlier in the day by Englishmen Oliver Fisher and Matthew Southgate.
"I could not have dreamed of a better start. Three perfect shots, made a birdie and that got the confidence going," Rahm told RTE Sport. "Luckily for me I made a couple of really good putts on the front nine, and I gained a lot of confidence going into the back nine and was able to finish it off."
Rahm's notoriously quick temper was on full display during missed cuts at both the Memorial and U.S. Open, but he appeared to turn things around last week during a T-10 finish at the HNA French Open. That marked Rahm's eighth worldwide top-10 finish of the year, a run that was highlighed by his win at Torrey Pines and also included runner-up finishes at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and Dean & DeLuca Invitational.