The world number one enjoyed a sensational start to the ACCIONA Open de España presented by Madrid, posting a 63 to equal his best score at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid and start where he left off two years ago.
It may seem as though little has changed since 2019, but the man from Barrika now tops the world ranking and has a major under his belt. His new status brought with it on Thursday the biggest crowds in memory at a Spanish tournament.
On a practically perfect day for golf, Rahm showed the fans why he is the best player in the world, flying out of the blocks to reach -6 after just eight holes.
Having started on the 10th, his ball hung over the hole for a few seconds on 11 before finally dropping to move him into the red. Another birdie came on 13, followed by a stunning eagle on 14 and two dead-eye birdie putts on 16 and 17. At this point of his round, it looked like he could do no wrong. On every hole he had made a par, he had a chance to birdie. His first blemish, though, came at the 18th, where he failed to produce the pure strike he needed from a fairway bunker, and found himself in another by the green, from where an up-and-down eluded him. -5 after nine holes.
The bogey spelled the end of his charge and on the next three holes he had to battle for his par, not entirely surprising since it is the most difficult stretch of holes on the course.
More progress came quickly though as he produced a simple birdie on the fourth, where he was close to making another eagle, and followed it up in style with another two birdies on 7 and 8. He closed out his round on the par-3 ninth hole where he missed a birdie putt that would have given him his best round at the CCVM. His par was enough though to seal a sensational start to the ACCIONA Open de España presented by Madrid.
“I’m feeling really good, I’ll always take a 63 on any course, especially if it’s to start. I played great, it’s the perfect way to start a tournament and hopefully I can continue like this. Of course you always miss the odd shot in a round, but I also saved myself from a few tricky spots, so this -8 is fantastic and I couldn’t ask for more. As much as there are other countries where they make me feel loved, obviously nowhere is like Madrid and Spain. It’s a pleasure to play in front of such enthusiastic fans, already on Thursday. If I play well too it’s even more fun. What I don’t know is where we’re going to put people at the weekend, because there are a lot of fans and it’s only just started. But it’s wonderful, when I was little I saw so many people following the best players, it was like a dream of mine to be able to be at the centre of it, and it doesn’t add pressure for me, on the contrary, it motivates me to continue and to be better”
Rahm was accompanied in the biggest match of the morning by Bernd Wiesberger and Victor Perez, neither of whom enjoyed their best day on the course, finishing on -1 and level par, respectively. However, tomorrow they will have another bite at the apple when they tee off again at 14:00.