ORLANDO, Fla. (March 2, 2023) – Jon Rahm just proved once again why he is the hottest golfer on the planet. The World No. 1 surged to the finish on Thursday with a late eagle and birdie binge that rocketed him to the top of the leaderboard following the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
The FedExCup points leader and winner of three of his last five PGA TOUR events started strong with birdies on each of his first three holes at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. And his finish was even better, as he played the final three holes in four under par, resulting in a first-round 65. He will take a two-stroke lead over Chris Kirk, Cameron Young and Kurt Kitayama into Friday’s second round.
Defending champion and World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler shot 68, putting him in a tie for fifth with World No. 4 Patrick Cantlay, World No. 6 Xander Schauffele and five other players.
“I had a lot of good looks for birdie – I played really good golf today and I took advantage of the three or four missed opportunities, missed fairways and greens really, really well,” Rahm said.
Rahm has finished top 10 in all six official PGA TOUR events he has played during the 2022-23 season, including victories at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, The American Express and the Genesis Invitational. Thursday, he lurked near the top of the leaderboard before draining a 24-foot eagle putt on 16, hitting his tee shot on the par-3 17th inside three feet for an easy birdie and knocking his approach shot on 18 within six feet, which he converted for another birdie to secure the low round of the day.
“I think the only difference between some of my rounds last year and this one was just putting, Rahm said. “I don't think in four days I made a single putt out here last year. And I made my fair share today. I've been putting a lot better this year. But from good putting to bad putting is the smallest difference imaginable. Especially on these greens. These greens can get difficult very quick.”
Rahm tees in Friday’s second round at 7:38 a.m., grouped with Schauffele and World No. 10 Collin Morikawa off the 10th tee.