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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 31 March, 2020

Irish Open winner Rahm shoots 62 to roar into three-shot lead in Memphis

Rory McIlroy opened with a 69 at the WGC-St. Jude Invitational.

Rahm continued his excellent form on Thursday.
Rahm continued his excellent form on Thursday.
Image: Michael Wade

SPAIN’S JON RAHM tied his career-low round on Thursday by firing a bogey-free eight-under 62 to take the lead after the first round of the WGC-St. Jude Invitational.

Rahm, who is coming off a tie for 11th at last week’s Open, has a three-stroke lead over five others including Bubba Watson, Cameron Smith, Patrick Cantlay and a pair of Japanese players Hideki Matsuyama and Shugo Imahira.

Rahm needed just 23 putts on Thursday, using his red-hot putter to shoot five under on the front nine on the TPC Southwind course in Memphis, Tennessee. His eight birdies overall ties his career most on the PGA Tour.

He hit nine of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens to take his fifth career 18-hole lead.

It has been a whirlwind last couple of months for Rahm who competed in two majors on two different continents, won the Irish Open, appeared at the Spanish Masters and attended the wedding of a friend.

“I didn’t do anything Monday or Tuesday, I just rested and stretched at the hotel, in the room,” said Rahm, who tied for third at this year’s US Open.

“And then yesterday I came with the plan of playing 18 holes. I putted and warmed up, and after four holes I was dead. I couldn’t swing properly.

“I was really tired, so I just decided to just finish the round of nine holes, eat and just putt a little bit and go.

GOLF: JUL 25 PGA - World Golf Championships-FedEx St Jude Invitational Rory McIlroy in action during his opening round. Source: Michael Wade

“I tried to put a little emphasis on being rested and it paid off today. I have three more days to go and hopefully the battery lasts.”

Rahm is seeking his second title of 2019 after teaming up with Ryan Palmer to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans team competition.

“My last 10 holes, I made a lot of putts. I hit really good putts and I read the greens properly, but I think the main key out of all that, it was my positioning,” he said.

World number one Brooks Koepka opened with a two-under 68. Koepka finished in a tie for fourth at The Open to join Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth as the only players to finish in the top five in all four Majors in a single year.

After playing his first nine holes in three-over 38, 2016 champion Dustin Johnson finished with a one-under 69, seven shots back of Rahm, as did Rory McIlroy.

© AFP 2019 

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