PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It is becoming increasingly apparent that the notion of a learning curve does not apply to Jon Rahm.
Less than a year since turning pro, Rahm has quickly worked his way into the discussion of the game’s elite. He already has a win under his belt, finished second at a WGC event and entered The Players Championship on a run of five top-10 finishes in his last six starts.
The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass usually extracts a toll from first-time visitors, but once again Rahm proved to be immune to conventional wisdom as he opened with a 4-under 68 to sit one shot off the early lead.
Rahm capped his round with a 32-foot birdie on No. 18 and, perhaps more remarkably, made it through Pete Dye’s design without dropping a shot.
“I don’t know when the last time I made a bogey-free round, but at this course, first ever, it’s really something I’m amazed at,” Rahm said. “Anything under par would have been amazing today, but birdieing 18, wow, I mean it’s something I really can’t believe.”
Despite making his Players debut, Rah will head into the second round as the highest-ranked player among the 17 to break 70 in Thursday’s opener, a collection that includes only one major champion (Louis Oosthuizen). He may be a first-year player on Tour, but after 18 holes Rahm has already positioned himself as one of the favorites at the circuit’s flagship event.
“I feel very fortunate this year to have played golf the way I have,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s routine or ordinary, because it’s like living the dream but I don’t want to get used to it. It’s fun.”