JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Jon Rahm didn't look rusty Thursday, as he put on an absolute clinic in his first round since The Open Championship, firing an 8-under 63 to share the opening round lead at The Northern Trust with Justin Thomas.
Rahm chipped in for birdie on the third at Liberty National Golf Club and made three straight birdies at Nos. 6, 7 and 8 to go out in 32. The hot streak carried over with four more birdies coming home.
Even after the great round, Rahm still claimed that he felt a bit rusty early on.
“There was a little bit [of rust]. It's hard to say because those first five holes or six holes, even though I was 2 under, it was very close to being a very different story,” Rahm said. “That chip-in on 3, if it doesn't hit the hole, I'm looking for a 40-footer for par. Made a great up and down on 4 and 5. I guess that's why you practice the short game.”
Rahm is the number one player in the world, and he made that clear with his play Thursday, even on a tough Liberty National. Wind gusted between 20-25 mph on Thursday, and Rahm said he used that to his advantage.
“The fact that me and Justin shot a low score like that, it shows it's possible, but we both play good golf,” Rahm said. “I'm assuming he did as well. I felt like I played great. If it ever looked easy, it is, due to ball striking. I can put it in the fairway. From the fairway, you can be aggressive. You can hit it as low as you want into the wind, and that ball is going to stop on the green. That’s the advantage of using the wind to your advantage.”
Thomas birdied four of his first six holes and added another at the ninth to go out in 31. He birdied 14 to move into a share of the lead at 6 under before dropping a shot at 15. Three straight birdies to finish had him back in a share of the lead.
Thomas has struggled with his putting this season but got things going on the greens after switching back to his old putter this week.
“Especially with the wind, I'm like these are putts that are inside the hole if I can hit them with some pace,” Thomas said. “The harder you hit it, sometimes the harder it is to keep online, and I just kind of gutted both of those putts, and just any time I'm changing my speed out there like that with putting and making putts, I'm usually feeling pretty good."
Thomas called his putter "Baby" after the round. He says he doesn’t always call it that, but every golfer can relate to the sentiment he feels for his Scotty Cameron.
He said, “I'm sure everyone has their putters that they've used for a while and have a lot of great memories with."