Jon Rahm is looking for the champion. It’s there, somewhere. Sometimes it seems he is born with the splendor with which he won the US Open last year, his first major, a milestone in Spanish golf that had only tasted honey at the Masters and the British Open. Other times it hides, like the sun behind the clouds in Brookline, Massachusetts, on the second day of the third big of the season. Day of the cut for many, another test in the highs for Rahm, who delivers a three-under-par card on the round, totaling -4, and bids among the best. Only USA’s Collin Morikawa (-5) improves it at the end of the day.
Rahm switched on the light and cleared all clouds over his game. If Thursday had closed the book with a big little bird on the 18th hole after the childish ball theft, this Friday he opened on the 10th with a putt of four meters to save the couple and keep their confidence. The short game has since been greased, bailing him out when he had it and giving him a little more enjoyment. That leprechaun at 13, in tow when he lost the road, he patched it up with a Eagle from the manual in 14: a 334-yard (305-meter) launch shot and a shot at the upper platform where the green hole on third impact. It was success that propelled him up the rankings and warned his rivals: Here was the champion.
The storm-threatening sky calmed down. Rahm crossed the 17th hole where he had been rescued by a visit from an ambush the previous day Rough, with another pair repairing, and 18 bordered bingo. Landing in a bunker gave him a hard reception at the beginning of the second part of the course. The deviation on that 1 hole cost him a recovery shot and that leprechaun, and wide open he planted himself in the last kidney beat. It was time to search his best shots in his pocket. For example one bomb with which the flag was passed in the par 4 of 5 to leave the writing little bird. Another rocket (353 yards, 322 meters) on the second par 5, hole 8 to hike the rag on the second shot and depreciate another red number in the locker: -4 (at this station Morikawa missed one putt from a meter to Eagle).
“It was a very hard fought round, there were holes where I had to fight a lot and that helped me feel comfortable on the course. It’s like wanting to play golf at the US Open,” Rahm explained after the round, grinning from ear to ear and gulping down a can of cold water. “As soon as I made good swings, the confidence was palpable. I didn’t play the last seven holes loosely, but as comfortably as possible. I have similar feelings as last year in confidence in my game. When I’m at Torrey Pines I feel so comfortable that I have an extra level of confidence, but I’m as good as I can be.”