Rahm stays hot with 64 at Quicken Loans National

BETHESDA, Md. — That didn’t take long.

A week after he was the lone amateur to make the cut at the U.S. Open, Jon Rahm grabbed the clubhouse lead in his pro debut Thursday in the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club.

The Arizona State product, 21, who is the only two-time winner of the Ben Hogan award given to college golf’s top player, fired a bogey-free, 7-under-par 64 that included 10 3’s to set the pace.

“I would say about five months ago my expectations were really high. But coming into this moment, I worked with my mental coach. We basically just narrow it down to enjoying it and learning as much as I could, and I’ve been thinking like that for the last month and trying not to have high expectations,” Rahm said. “ … I wasn’t cruising, I was not cruising. It was obviously a good day. I was really comfortable off the tee with the driver, hitting it good, hitting it straight so that allowed me to be a little more aggressive.”

Rahm wasn’t the only player going low.

The Blue Course at Congressional was pounded by storms that greeted Thursday’s dawn, saturating the layout and delaying the first round of the Quicken Loans National. Once the unpleasant front cleared, PGA Tour players battered the Blue and turned it into a sea of red numbers.

“Attack, attack, attack, attack,” Jamie Lovemark said about his mindset once he stepped onto the softened, vulnerable course. Just over 7,000 yards later, he signed for a 66 to hit the front page of the leaderboard.

It is an oversized front page.

Jhonattan Vegas shot 65 to stand one back of Rahm, while Lovemark is in a large group two back at 66 with Kyle Reifers, Bill Haas, Ernie Els, Harold Varner III, Billy Hurley III and Camilo Villegas.

Six players were at 67. Six more were at 68.

And half the field is still on the course.

At 5:15 a.m. ET, rain and lightning created a delay of 2 hours, 15 minutes and tempered a usually fierce test of golf even more following storms on Tuesday. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their ball, adding to their advantage. And there was little breeze to deal with.

“We played a soft golf course and the course is in great condition, so if you play decent golf, you could score. It was a nice morning,” said Els, who won the 1997 U.S. Open here and is feeling pretty good around this place. “There’s good vibes coming.  Every hole is something that you did well.”

Players will continue to get in attack mode for some time as more storms are in the forecast for Friday.

“Sunday afternoon?” Lovemark guessed when asked when the course can get firm and fast. “The fairways are really soft, the greens aren’t that soft.

“It’ll be a few days.”

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