World number one Jon Rahm’s Ryder Cup prep week hasn’t gone quite according to plan, but the Spaniard laid low by a stomach ailment said he was improving after an even par 72 in the first-round of the US PGA Fortinet Championship.
Rahm withdrew from Wednesday’s pro-am with the bug, which he attributed to fatigue after battling to a runner-up finish to Patrick Cantlay in the US PGA Tour Championship last week.
“I didn’t have the mental clarity I usually have,” Rahm said, attributing that to the fact that he didn’t eat on the course as he usually does.
“It was a bit of a battle in that sense, that’s why probably on the greens it wasn’t my best day, but again, it is what it is. I’ve dealt with worse. I think a lot of people out there have played with worse.
“Tiger Woods won a US Open with a broken knee, so I’m OK.”
Rahm — who said he felt “way worse” than he had when he was diagnosed with Covid-19 earlier in the year — had two bogeys and two birdies in his even-par 72 at Silverado Resort in Napa, California.
American Chez Reavie was the first-round leader in the opening event of the US tour’s 2021-22 season with a seven-under par 65.
Reavie’s patience paid off as he bounced back from an early bogey at the 14th hole with birdies at the 16th and 17th.
And he really came alive on his inward run, his six birdies including three in a row to end his round.
“I told myself to stay patient, you have plenty of chances to make birdies, and I was able to do that coming in,” said Reavie, who rolled in a 17-footer at the seventh, the drained a seven-foot birdie at the eighth before firing out of a greenside bunker to three feet at the ninth and making that for birdie.
“I was one-over through six holes, I think. I was like, OK, stay patient, don’t become impatient. “Fortunately I was able to make some birdies.”
American Cameron Tringale and Canadian Adam Hadwin shared second on six-under 66 with half a dozen players sharing fourth on 67.
Most of the world’s top golfers are absent this week, resting up from the Tour Championship or getting ready for next week’s Ryder Cup duel between the United States and Europe at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin next week.
Rahm said he liked the idea of playing competition rounds to ready himself for “the mental aspect” of the Ryder Cup.
In addition, he thought the set-up at Silverado would be better preparation for what he’ll face at Whistling Straits than he would find at home in Arizona.
“Right now in Arizona it’s hot. They’re watering the courses a lot to keep the Bermuda in proper shape for the season, so everything’s a little bit slower, a little bit longer, so it plays nothing like Whistling Straits would.
“That’s another one of the reasons why I wanted to come here because at least I’m playing a championship golf course, it’s firm, it’s fast,” added Rahm, who predicted that after a good meal and a good night’s sleep he’d be back to normal.
Rahm, who won his first major title when he captured the US Open at Torrey Pines, admitted he also felt motivated by coming up short this week in voting for US PGA Tour Player of the Year honors, which went to Cantlay.
“I played amazing golf,” Rahm said of his season to date.