Most Thursdays in professional golf, top-10 players can’t find anything positive in winding up their round 11 shots off the lead. And that’s just where Jon Rahm sits after his opening-round effort at the U.S. Open.
However, the rookie Spaniard, wrapping up his first full year as a pro, has to have taken some solace from his 4-over 76 that leaves him a Wisconsin pasture away from Rickie Fowler.
Rahm got off to a bad start, making bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes, his first two of the day. At that point, Rahm grew flustered by Erin Hills, remarking about the nature of the litany blind shots on the property — they’re on 14 of 18 holes.
He bogeyed the par-5 14th and the 527-yard par-4 17th. He was hot. He tomahawked a club into the ground near his bag at one point. He was cursing, spitting fire and kicking his feet at times at nothing in particular. He turned in 4-over 40, and it seemed like it was a race between Rahm and Dustin Johnson for which top-10 player would crash out of the Open quickest.
Then the second nine — the opening nine at Erin Hills — happened. It wasn’t pretty, but the scorecard had dramatically fewer shapes on it. Rahm birdied the par-4 third, one of the hardest holes on the course. Yeah, he gave it back on the next hole, but pars the rest of the way got Rahm to the house in even on the back.
Again, 76 is very rarely a good score in major championship golf. However, as Erin Hills dries out and the wind picks up in the afternoon, Rahm’s tally might not look so despairing. Rahm has a long way to go to contend, and he still has a ways to go to even threaten his T-23 finish last year at Oakmont as low amateur. Still, at the Open, one round under par is enough to do a lot of good.
More U.S. Open coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Viewer’s guide: Erin Hills breakdown, TV times, picks and more!
• Power rankings: Top 10 expert picks for Erin Hills
• Watch: Who wins at tough Erin Hills?
• Johnson ready for Open after birth of baby