Jon Rahm of Spain simply made the transition from European Tour to PGA Tour golf quicker than anyone else.
The 24-year-old Rahm, ranked eighth in the world, carded a bogey-free, 8-under-par 62 to take a three-stroke lead over five players after the first round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind https://tpc.com/southwind in Memphis, Tenn.
“I came out and putted for about half an hour yesterday to get used to the difference in the green speeds and that was the only time I was on the course,” said Rahm, who made 140 feet of putts four days after tying for 11th in the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. “The greens are so much faster over here. You just have to take your mind back to American golf.
“There are only four more events left in the season with the FedEx Cup playoffs coming up and the biggest thing is to stay rested in mind and body, rather than being out on the practice range or the golf course overworking.”
Rahm sank five birdie putts of 16 feet or more, making five birdies on the first eight hole and sinking a seven-foot putt to save par on the last hole and equal his career-low of 62 set earlier this year on the North Course at Torrey Pines while tying for fifth in the Farmers Insurance Open.
Bubba Watson also found something on the greens, making three birdies on the last four holes in a 65 that put him in a tie for second with 10th-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Cameron Smith of Australia and Shugo Imahira of Japan.
“I went back to the putter I won three times with last year,” said Watson, who also birdied four of the first eight holes. “It was nice to have an old friend back in the bag and I really putted well.”
Andrew Putnam of Peppedine sank a four-foot birdie putt on his last hole, No. 9, to shoot 66 and tie for seventh with Ian Poulter of England, Alex Noren of Sweden, Thorbjron Olesen of Denmark, Nate Lashley and Tyrrell Hatton of England.
Fourth-ranked Justin Rose of England birdied three of the first five holes while posting a 67 and is in a tie for 13th that includes seventh-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, while ninth-ranked Justin Thomas, the defending champion, finished at 68 and is in a tie for 18th that includes top-ranked Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson.
Second-ranked Dustin Johnson wound up at 69 and is in a tie for 24th that includes third-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, coming off a missed cut in the Open, and Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, who slipped to 11th in the rankings this week.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/competition/2019/wgc-fedex-st-jude-invitational/leaderboard.html