Six bogeys and a double bogey turned Jon Rahm’s card bright red on the first round of the 105th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester. The 28-year-old Spaniard could only counteract his bad day on the demanding North American course with two birdies to conclude his debut on the green carpet in New York with 76 shots (+6). However, Far from sinking, the number one in the world ranking saw the glass half full before returning to action: “There is a lot left. This is going to get more difficult every day but I am going to fight. That’s why I’m here. Let’s hope Thursday was the bad day. The course is going to be harder, faster and more complicated. If I start with some good swings and do a lap under par I’ll put myself in a certain position going into the weekend. If at the start of Sunday I’m above par on the course, I’ll have very good options”.
Plan A with no chance of error… mainly because if he repeated a similar performance, not only would the chances of winning the only major that Spain does not have dissipate, but it would be very difficult to make the cut. “I have missed several fairways too many and that in this field makes it very difficult for you. I can fail in certain things, but I have to make those short putts in which I have a very high percentage this year”, recognized the ‘León de Barrika’ making constructive self-criticism.
Rahm started strong but hole 1 repeated the script. Clear birdie option wasted. He had to keep fighting. And the first bite came at 2 after another masterful second hit. Consummate birdie, +5. clenched teeth, angry gesture. The rain began to fall moderately for a good part of the day, warning of what is expected, much more intense, for the weekend, which will surely make Oak Hill, with the expected invitation also of strong winds, a hell that it will wreak havoc on the cards.
The ‘León de Barrika’ kept fighting to lower his numbers, taking almost all the fairways, but the pairs at 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 reproduced, in most of the holes, that lack of success with the putter because he had options in almost all of them. The bogey of 12 left Rahm with +6 and on the tightrope, out of the tournament. He had six holes to at least return to the +5 that he was supposed to continue or not. Quick and brilliant reaction of the master with birdies at 13, 14 and 15 to get to +3… although another bogey at 16 returned him to uncertainty. Two pairs certified to pass the cut (+4, -2 on the day) in a major led by the American Scheffler, the Norwegian Hovland and the Canadian Conners with -5.
For his part, Pablo Larrazábal complied and made the cut at the end of the 36 holes with +4 (69 and 75 strokes). “I haven’t played my best game and I’ve been very erratic off the tee, but I’m happy to make the cut,” said the 40-year-old from Barcelona. Adri Arnaus (+6) fought in the last few holes to be there for the weekend but he did not succeed, something that Adrián Otaegui (+8) did not manage either.