Jon Rahm is a fire in permanent combustion, an intractable golfer in this 2023, protagonist of one of those magical trances that sometimes occur in this sport (ask him, Tiger aside, Jordan Spieth, or Brooks Koepka, or Scottie Scheffler) . He started his participation in the Genesis Invitational this Thursday with a -6 (and it is already -82 in 17 laps disputed this year) that left him second after the American Max Homa (-7), another who has been touched by a wand for some time, and his countryman Keith Mitchell.
The Biscayan is already in a plan in which he doesn’t even need to play especially well to get results. Proof of this is that he took more birdies (eight) than he took (six) in the first contact with the Riviera Country Club of Los Angeles (USA).. He had to go out for the 10th and the first thing he did was hit a shot of more than 300 meters that reached the green on a short par 4 like that. A birdie made that he accompanied with another on the par 5 of the 11th. What seemed to be a Martian turn was later tempered with three pars in a row and the first bogey of the day, on the 15th.
An error that served as an incentive, because on the 16th he brushed the hole in one, leaving a 14-inch putt, and he took advantage of the par 5 on the 17th to conclude the first half of the course at three under par. He added fuel to the fire in the second, which again started with a birdie later countered because a lousy start in the 2 ended in the second blur on his card. He didn’t even tickle the ruling. Two holes later he plugged it in from seven meters to subtract again, he ate the sixth, the most dangerous par 3 of the day (and he didn’t like the shot from the start) with his bunker in the middle of the green as a black hole, and propped up the -6 immediately afterwards with a putt from the collar that ended up in the pot. “Comfortable” on the poa grass, he sent a message to the evening fans, including the two men with whom he is fighting for number one this week, the aforementioned McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler: they are going to have to play their best golf to improve him.
Tiger beats himself
Only the Northern Irishman, -4, picked up the glove. The Texan, on the other hand, stayed at a correct -1, with work ahead of him to maintain the crown that was set again after his victory last week in Phoenix. The narrative of the second wave belonged to a Tiger Woods which again showed movement problems. It was not an impediment, however, for the Tiger to sign a -2 that, in his physical condition, borders on the feat and brings him closer to the weekend.
Riviera is not a particularly long course. Yes, one that requires precision due to the narrowness of its greens, and that the Californian knows well despite the fact that it has always resisted him. His swing has nothing to do with the one of yesteryear in terms of explosiveness, as the metrics offered by the PGA Tour showed during the broadcast, but the control of the ball and the greens better resists the passing of the years and the scars of his body. Until hole 12, from which he came out with +1, an expected version was seen; between the 16th and 18th he offered a few drinks from the Tiger vintage: direct blow to the rag at 16, putt inside from seven meters at 17 and another dart to the flag at 18. Three birdies and a bittersweet feeling, of nostalgia for what was and at the same time joy for the possibility of continuing contemplating him at 47 years old and with his body sewn from scraps. Even if it’s dropper.