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Arizona State's Rahm sets record with opening 61

Jon Rahm
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So much for all that talk about how difficult the Capital City Club would play during this week’s NCAA Championship. 

Arizona State freshman Jon Rahm fired a blistering 9-under 61 during the first round of stroke-play qualifying Tuesday to set the early pace. According to the school, Rahm’s 61 broke the record for the lowest opening-round score in tournament history. 

Notah Begay III (1994) and Michael Schachner (2007) have the lowest score in relation to par. Begay shot 10-under 62 for Stanford, while Schachner had a 10-under 60 for Duke.

When he finished his round on the Crabapple Course, Rahm was four strokes clear of Oklahoma senior Abraham Ancer (65) as the afternoon wave got underway outside Atlanta. 

Arizona State, which entered this week at No. 38 in Golfstat’s rankings, had the low round of the morning, a 10-under 270 that put the Sun Devils eight shots clear of the early starters.

Earlier this month, Rahm was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year after a two-win campaign that included five top 10s and a 71.60 scoring average. He was tied for third in birdies made this season (138) and was No. 85 in Golfstat’s individual rankings.

Beginning on the 10th hole Tuesday, Rahm made six birdies to go out in 30, then added birdies on Nos. 1, 4, 5 and a final one on the 523-yard, par-4 ninth to shoot 61. 

The NCAA individual champion is determined after three rounds of stroke play. Alejandro Canizares (2003) was the last Arizona State player to win the title.