Rahm opens in 67, sits four off lead at Spanish Open

Rahm opens in 67, sits four off lead at Spanish Open
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MADRID — Jon Rahm got off to a solid start in his attempt to surpass Seve Ballesteros by winning a fourth Spanish Open title, shooting 4-under 67 to sit four shots off the lead after Thursday’s first round.

Matthieu Pavon was at the top of the leaderboard after a 63 at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid that included seven birdies, an eagle and a bogey.

Wil Besseling was one shot back in second place, while Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Pedro Figueiredo and Eddie Pepperell were another stroke behind in a tie for third. Among those at 5 under were Marcel Siem and Shubhankar Sharma.

Rahm’s round, his first since helping Europe win the Ryder Cup two weeks ago, included five birdies and a bogey on the 18th hole — his ninth hole for the day — after an erratic drive that led to an approach shot into the bunker.

“It’s a good score,” Rahm said. “You can’t win it on the first day, but I’ve put myself in a good position.”

Rahm took a week off following the Ryder Cup, where he won three points to help Europe defeat the United States at Marco Simone in Italy.

“Once you get back into the tournament week, it’s business as usual,” he said. “It’s always easier to come back to a regular event than flip it for the Ryder Cup, just because the Ryder Cup is so unique, it’s once every two years, whereas this is just one more week throughout the year. Obviously it’s a pretty big week for me.”

Rahm matched Ballesteros’ three Spanish Open titles by winning in Madrid last year. He also won the tournament in 2018 and 2019. Ballesteros won the last of his 50 titles on the European tour at the Spanish Open in 1995.

“I feel like I drove it so good, I wish I would have taken advantage of a couple of the other opportunities,” Rahm said. “I put myself in the right spots often enough. Hopefully I can keep hitting it to the green like that and just make a few putts the rest of the week.”

Rahm had a big crowd following him all day at the Club de Campo on a national holiday in Spain.

“The beauty of something like this is, you know, maybe when I’m not hitting my best shots, just using that crowd to my advantage … using the crowd energy,” he said.

The third-ranked Spaniard and No. 36 Justin Rose are the only players from the top 50 entered in the field this week. Rose, who was also on the European Ryder Cup team, shot 71 after a disappointing opening round that included a double bogey on the par-4 second hole. He had only two birdies on the day.

Alex Fitzpatrick and Edoardo Molinari both shot 69.

The top Spaniard after the first day was Victor García Broto, a local qualifier who was among those who shot 65.

The European tour stays in Spain next week with the Andalucia Masters.

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