Rahm tied for lead in Hawaii birdie blitz

Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa and J.J. Spaun are tied for the lead at nine-under 64 after the first round of the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

Jon Rahm.
Jon Rahm. Picture: AAP Image

Without Cameron Smith to contend with this time, Jon Rahm should fancy his chances of winning the Tournament of Champions after shooting nine-under 64 in the first round.

Two-time runner-up Rahm racked up eight birdies and an eagle on the Plantation Course at Kapalua on Thursday to be tied for the lead with Colin Morikawa and J.J. Spaun.

Last year, the big Spaniard made 32 birdies and still finished a shot behind Australian Smith, who set a PGA Tour record with his 34-under winning score in a week with little wind.

With Smith now in LIV Golf ranks and unable to defend his title, world No.5 Rahm still faces plenty of hot-scoring competition in the 39-man field on a course where only Billy Horschel failed to break par on Thursday.

He didn't consider Kapalua owes him one

"I can't make a case for that on a lot of golf courses," Rahm said. "I can't say much, man. I shot 33 under. I got beat by 34 under. That's just what it is. We both played really good golf. It was a great battle.

"Hopefully, if we get to that point again, hopefully it's me and hopefully I end up winning by one."

Two-time major champion Morikawa began the back nine with six straight birdies, his longest such streak on the PGA Tour.

"My toes hurt," he said. "It's a long walk, even if it can play like a short course."

American Spaun, at Kapalua for the first time, had four straight birdies on the back.

Fast-rising South Korean youngster Tom Kim is a shot behind the leaders after making two eagles and five birdies.

He is one stroke clear of US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, world No.2 Scottie Scheffler, Sungjae Im, Tom Hoge, Mackenzie Hughes and Aaron Wise.

Adam Scott - Australia's lone entrant in the event for last year's winners and Fedex Cup top 30 - is tied 26th after a three-under 70, his good work marred by two front-nine bogeys.

with The AP