MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Jon Rahm was so exhausted coming off last week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland—a common theme for many in the field at this week’s World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational—that he managed to get in only nine holes of practice on Wednesday before teeing off in the event the next day.
“I came with the plan of playing 18 holes,” he said. “I putted and warmed up, and after four holes, I teed off on 10, I think that was when I got to 14 or 15, I was dead. I couldn't swing properly. I was really tired, so I decided to just finish the round of nine holes, eat and just putt a little bit and go.”
The only problem? Rahm had never been to TPC Southwind before and never saw the course’s front nine before teeing off on Thursday.
It didn’t matter.
Rahm torched his final nine holes anyway, closing in 30 en route to an eight-under-par 62 and a three-stroke lead over five players after the opening round.
“That Sunday in the Open was so consuming with that weather that we had,” said Rahm, who tied for 11th at Royal Portrush. “I was pretty exhausted Monday and Tuesday, and that's why I decided not to do much on the golf course and just make sure mentally I was going to be ready to compete.”
Rahm got the birdie train rolling in earnest on the 18th hole, where he drove into a fairway bunker but knocked his second to 18 feet and made the putt.
The 24-year-old Spaniard took off from there. He opened his back nine by rolling in a pair of 18-footers for birdie.
Then on the sixth, he stuck his approach to two feet to set up another easy birdie before rolling in 16-footers on each of the next two holes.
And though Rahm failed to birdie the par-5 third, settling for par after missing a four-footer, he ended up having the best putting day of his career, finishing the round at 5.203 in strokes gained/putting.
“it's not like you can't shoot low without knowing a golf course,” Rahm said. “[Caddie Adam Hayes] was just telling me where to hit it, and it works.
“He's a great caddie, he knows my game. I listen to him a lot off the tee, so it paid off.”