Rahm punctures at the beginning of the green jacket’s defense

«I shit…». Jon Rahm could not hide his anger at the end of the first day of the Augusta Masters played this Thursday. He had just given up two consecutive boogies to post a 73, one over par. The defense of the green jacket has not started on the right foot for the Biscayan, whose errors from the tee and with the putt distance him from the leading group led by Bryson DeChambeau (-7), a member of the LIV like him.

The one from Barrika had the pressure on his shoulders not only for being the defending champion but also for landing at the club after signing for the Saudi circuit. The ‘lightweights’, who had the support of their boss, Greg Norman, in the public, want to demonstrate in this edition that the fact of playing without cuts does not mean a loss of competitiveness. DeChambeu was in charge of justifying it perfectly and surpassed by one stroke the great favorite for the throne, the leader of the world ranking and main sword of the traditional PGA, Scottie Scheffler, winner in 2022.

Later, more composed after passing through the locker room, Rahm spoke to the press a few minutes after finishing his tour. «It’s a difficult track, that’s all I can say. I’m far away, but there’s still a long way to go. To score low here you need to play good golf, but if I don’t put the ball in the fairway it is difficult,” acknowledged ‘Rahmbo’, below the top-40 in his debut. 26 of the last 30 Masters winners were five or fewer shots off the lead. Rahm is eight.

The Biscayan golfer has not started on the right foot and will have to make a comeback starting this Friday, when he will start again at 7:00 p.m. in Spain if there are not many delays derived from the initial day on Thursday. A devastating fact that must be broken: only one Spaniard made the cut the year after being champion: José María Olazabal in 2000.

His second worst start

The 73 strokes he recorded this Thursday represent the second worst first round in the history of Rahm in his eight years at Augusta. He signed the same ones in his debut in 2017, when he finished in 27th place, and one more in 2022, same position. Now the classification is more expensive. The last green jacket started with a good drive and saved par with a putt from the collar. And he made a birdie on the third hole (par 4) that invited optimism.

Before the watchful eye of personalities such as chef José Andrés, his friend who commissioned the Champions Dinner, and the president of Banco Santander, Ana Patricia Botín, who wore the green jacket as one of the 500 members of the exclusive club, Rahm, The new ambassador in the United States of Openbank – a subsidiary of the Spanish financial institution – conceded a boogie on the par 3 of the 4th after putting up to three times. He puttted up to 31 times. Too many concessions.

He received the affection of the public, among them that of his family, always at his side, and gained strength to chain two birdies on the 7th (par 4) and the 8th (par 5). In the first he responded to his drive and in the second he gave a nice approach. He thus finished the first lap with a hopeful -2, but committed two boogies at 10 and 14, the latter after going wrong and getting behind a tree.

The birdie on 16 was an exercise in maximum concentration. On the always fun par 3, the scene of some holes in one in past editions, you can scratch something. Rahm did it despite the merriment raised by the figure of Tiger Woods in the 5th, located next door. Thus, a final stretch was reached in which the Barrika player would squander his income in the worst way. On the 17th he went wide and the putt was too short. He came out of the 18th very angry after conceding a stroke after falling under a magnolia tree and complaining of the wind on the green.

Rahm shared the course with a very angry Nick Dunlap, the 20-year-old amateur champion in the American Express who sealed a +5 victim of nerves, and with Matt Fitzpatrick. The Briton, winner of the US Open in 2022, was very composed, reaching a wonderful -4 but final errors led him to finish with a stroke under par.

Olazabal, virtually eliminated

As for the rest of the Spaniards, José María Olazabal signed a +5 which makes it impossible for him to make the cut. The veteran from Gipuzkoa, who only beat three players, knows that this is not his league, but he wants to say goodbye to Augusta as what he is, a teacher. His 77 strokes are the same as in the last two editions. In none of them did he make it to the weekend. For his part, Sergio García, who wore a horrible outfit of yellow pants and a green polo, took flight after suffering in the dreaded Amen Corner, including a double boogey, and sealed his card under par on the edge of the top-30. Since his victory in 2017, he has only made the cut once, two years ago.

If Scheffler – the fittest player on the planet today – confirmed his candidacy, other golfers gave pleasant surprises. One of them was Joaquín Niemann. The Chilean, member of the LIV and invited after his great moment (two titles this year), finished top-10 with -2 on his card. One less hit was signed by Tyrrell Hatton, Rahm’s teammate in Legion XIII. Among the rest of the favorites, Will Zalatoris sealed a -2, Rory McIlroy went -1 in the match of the day (along with Scheffler and Schauffele) and Brooks Koepka finished over par. The attraction was Tiger Woods. The five-time champion also performed at a good level for a -1 overall. Will it be his year?

Classification after the first day

1. Bryson DeChambeau (-7)

2. Scottie Scheffler (-6)

3. Nicolai Hojgaard (-5)

4. Danny Willett (-4)

– Max Homa (-4)

6. Ryan Fox (-3)

– Cameron Davis (-3)

– Tyrrell Hatton (-3)

T32. Sergio García (L)

T43. Jon Rahm (+1)

T82. Jose Maria Olazabal (+5)

2024-04-12 00:53:27
#Rahm #punctures #beginning #green #jackets #defense


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