All eyes were on Rahm, and the Spaniard did not disappoint. The more pressure on his shoulders, the greater he becomes. With practically every single spectator at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid following his group, the Basque native delivered with flying colours.
His round would have been exceptional if any other player in the field had produced it, but it is something we have come to expect from Rahm. We almost have to remind ourselves that it is not the norm. He is playing a different game and he shows it every time he sets foot on a golf course. The world number one delighted the fans on his front nine today with a spectacular display of ball-striking. He was so dialled in that it came to a point where it almost did not matter whether he was putting well. He signed for a -8 that felt as if he had left a few shots out there. He will tee off tomorrow afternoon two shots behind the leader and he has already made a clear statement; if anyone wants to beat him they will have to throw the kitchen sink at him.
The other news of the day for home fans came from Sebastián García. The Madrid native put on an exhibition with his driver and wedges to shoot a 62 that leaves him in second place. It was one of those days where the gods of golf were smiling on him and ‘Sebas’ made the most of it. If he continues to drive and control his distance as he did today, he will certainly be a player to watch.
Surprisingly though, despite the best efforts of Rahm and Sebas to delight their countrymen, neither of them is sitting at the top of the leaderboard. Thanks to a dream round, Ross McGowan is the man everyone is looking up at after the first day of the ACCIONA Open de España presented by Madrid. He signed for a stunning 61 that leaves him on -10. It was a perfect round in which the Englishman crafted eight birdies and an eagle. Ross is a tour journeyman who is enjoying something of a renaissance. He has won twice on tour, his title in 2020 coming eleven years after his first, which coincidentally he claimed right here in Madrid. He is so solid from tee to green that if his putter works as well as it did today he is sure to be in the mix come Sunday.
Day one also provided fans with an unusual round from Grant Forrest. The Scot had a surreal day on the course, during which he produced three eagles, two birdies and two bogies. Rarely will you see a scorecard with more eagles than birdies on it, but it is even more special when one of them is a hole in one. Forrest is unlikely to forget today’s round any time soon.
Also in the fight are three international players at seven under par. Donaldson, Besseling and Drysdale are in a share of fourth place and will be bidding to stay in the battle. The course was kind to the players today, with more than 100 players recording par or better. The greens are not so quick that they strike fear into players and the rough is not especially penalising. What happened today will set the tone for the tournament. There will be many players shooting low scores and one of them in particular is in a league of his own. It remains to be seen who can cope with Jon Rahm’s superiority through Sunday.