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Rahm among pace-setters at Mexico Open

Jon Rahm2
Jon Rahm2

MEXICO CITY: World number two Jon Rahm carded an eagle and five birdies in a seven-under par 64 to join a six-way tie for the first-round lead at the US PGA Tour's Mexico Open on Thursday.


Spain's Rahm, the highest-ranked player in the field for an event that is part of the US PGA Tour for the first time this year, was tied with Americans Jonathan Byrd, Brendon Todd, Trey Mullinax, Bryson Nimmer and Kurt Kitayama.


Todd had seven birdies in his bogey-free effort. Byrd had eight birdies and a bogey, Mullinax had an eagle, six birdies and a bogey and Nimmer -- a Monday qualifier -- had an eagle, seven birdies and two bogeys.


Kitayama was the last to join the leading group, notching his ninth birdie of the day at the 18th as the round was winding up.


Rahm got off to a quick start before the wind picked up on the par-71 Vidanta Vallarta resort course, teeing off on 10 and grabbing birdies at the 12th, 13th and 14th.


After a nine-foot putt for an up-and-down birdie at the 18th, Rahm rapped in a four-foot birdie at the fourth.


He drove the green at the par-four seventh then drained a 42-foot eagle putt.


He acknowledged that was the highlight-reel moment of the round, but said his chip-in for birdie at the 13th was perhaps more important.


"I hadn't hit my best iron shots early on, right?" Rahm said. "Misjudged it on 10, double crossed it on 11, double crossed it on 13 and got the first two up-and-downs and then chipped that one in from an uncomfortable lie and tough one.


"That was a huge bonus. I think a lot of people obviously would look at the eagle on seven, but that one early on was a huge booster."


Rahm is chasing his first victory since he won his maiden major title at the US Open at Torrey Pines last year.


He said he was feeling comfortable on the unfamiliar course, where he hit 12 of 13 fairways in regulation and 15 of 18 greens.


The crowded leaderboard saw England's Aaron Rai and Americans Aaron Wise, Sahith Theegala and Scott Brown a shot off the lead on 65.



PAIR OF ACES


Another 10 players were a further stroke back on 66.


Early action was enlivened by twin holes-in-one at the par-three fifth by Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and American Scott Gutschewski.


It marked only the fourth time since records began in 1983 that multiple holes-in-one were recorded at the same hole in the same round of a US PGA stroke-play event.


Kiradech, who went double bogey-bogey to begin his round, holed a 5-iron at the 189-yard par-three.


Gutschewski aced it with a seven-iron, his second US PGA Tour ace after another at the 2009 Turning Stone Resort Championship.Kiradech fired a one-under par 70 in the opening round while Gutschewski had a 67.


There were four aces at the sixth hole in the second round of the 1989 US Open at Oak Hill and four at the 15th hole in the second round of the 2009 Canadian Open at Glen Abbey plus three at the 16th hole in the final round of the 2016 Masters at Augusta National. -- AFP


Mexico Open first-round scores


(USA unless noted, par-71):


64 - Jonathan Byrd, Jon Rahm (ESP), Brendon Todd, Trey Mullinax, Bryson Nimmer, Kurt Kitayama


65 - Aaron Rai (ENG), Aaron Wise, Sahith Theegala, Scott Brown


66 - Patrick Rodgers, Ryan Blaum, Alex Smalley, Hayden Buckley, Charles Howell, CT Pan (TPE), Sebastian Munoz (COL), Brandon Hagy, Greyson Sigg, Andrew Novak


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