PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It was one of those days for Jon Rahm.
Following a week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he struggled with his driver, his opening effort at The Players Championship was still an adventure off the tee, but it was his performance on the greens that defined his 1-under 71.
His frustration was encapsulated by a three-putt at his final hole (the par-5 ninth) from 51 feet that included a lip out for birdie from 9 feet.
“It felt like a slap in the face on a day that I hit a lot of putts and just kept burning edges to one that looked like it was going in and, you know, it’s just what it is. It’s golf,” said Rahm, who was tied for 19th following his round.
Full-field scores The Players Championship
Rahm ranked 136th in the field of 144 players in strokes gained: putting with a negative 2,143 total and needed 30 putts. The round speaks to the Spaniard’s general frustration at the PGA Tour’s flagship event, which he’s played five times with just a single top-10 finish (2021).
“The only thing I could say is that I hit a lot of quality putts out there,” said Rahm, who added that his wedge play didn’t give him many birdie chances. “The only thing I will be thinking about today is a couple wedge shots, about three or four of them out there, that not only didn’t I hit them close, some of them I missed the green completely. … That’s where I think the difference on the round was today compared to other scores out there.”
There was one bright spot for Rahm on Thursday at TPC Sawgrass. His 71 wasn’t the worse score in his high-profile threesome that included Scottie Scheffler (68) and Rory McIlroy (76). According to various projections, both Scheffler and McIlroy can overtake Rahm atop the world ranking this week but would need to finish well inside the top 10.