Rahm overcomes flu at Desert ClassicThe defending champion opened with a 6-under 66
January 17, 2019
By Sean Martin , PGATOUR.COM
Jon Rahm makes birdie from the fringe at Desert Classic
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Jon Rahm, the Desert Classic’s defending champion, overcame the flu and some uncharacteristic weather conditions to shoot 66 at La Quinta Countrty Club on Thursday.
Those were two reasons he struggled with distance control on Thursday. The weather in the California desert is often so pristine that people refer to it as “dome golf.” Thursday started with a one-hour fog delay. Then players had to deal with rain during their round.
“(I’m) still pretty weak, which is possibly why I wasn't hitting it quite as far,” Rahm said. “(I’m) not fully recuperated, my body is not a hundred percent, so I could definitely feel when I hit a driver and I thought I hit it far enough it was definitely a 10 yard gap. Even today a couple of the shorter irons I could feel my body not being able to swing as hard. But I don't have bad feelings in me, I just need to rest up a little and hopefully I get better every day.”
Rahm made his only bogey of the day after his approach shot to the second hole came up short and he missed a 5-foot par putt. He made seven birdies over his next 16 holes. He is six shots behind Phil Mickelson, who shot 60 at La Quinta.
MUST READS: Round 1, Desert Classic
Phil Mickelson became the first player in the ShotLink era to record three rounds of 60 or better.
Justin Rose made his 2019 debut with six birdies after hitting 9 of 14 fairways and 13 greens.
Adam Hadwin, who shot 59 at the 2017 Desert Classic, hit all 18 greens in regulation on Thursday with five birdies and a chip-in eagle.
Rahm missed just three greens despite saying that he struggled with his distance control.
“The air density, it's pretty heavy right now. So sometimes it's hard to believe, especially when you get closer to the hole, how hard you had to hit the ball,” Rahm said. “And when you are hitting one or two clubs more than what we're used to, it's hard to be absolutely certain of doing it. But again, that only happened a few holes. For the most part I had a pretty good day, a pretty good ball striking day.”
He is 69th in the FedExCup standings after starting his season with a T22 at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions and eighth-place finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He also won the Hero World Challenge in December.
Phil Mickelson shoots 60, leads by 3 at Desert Classic