Open de Espana: Jon Rahm starts like a rocket but McGowan leads after 61

The pre-tournament favourite opened his bid for a hat-trick of home wins with an 8-under 63 but England’s Ross McGowan took day one honours.

When home hero Jon Rahm played the first eight holes of the Open de Espana in 6-under on Friday morning, the World No.1 threatened to produce a ludicrously low score.

At that point, he traded at odds-on to win the event - an almost unheard of state of affairs so early in a 72-hole tournament.

But despite adding another trio of birdies, it still wasn't enough to give the Spaniard the round-one lead at Club de Campo, the scene of his 2019 victory.

Rahm's 8-under 63 was an excellent effort and puts him in golden position to win his third straight Open de Espana but his efforts were surpassed by two fellow morning starters.

England's Ross McGowan blasted eight birdies and an eagle to shoot a course-record 61 while another Spaniard, Sebastien Garcia Rodriguez delighted the locals with a 62.

Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Wil Besseling of the Netherlands and Scotland's David Drysdale share fourth spot after 7-under 64s.

Rahm started his day with a par at No.10 but then went birdie-par-birdie-eagle-par-birdie-birdie to surge into the lead on 6-under.

A bogey at 18, Rahm's sole blemish, halted his momentum for a while before he picked up further shots at 4, 7 and 8.

It now means he's played his last nine rounds at this event in an absurd 50-under.

After victories at Centro Nacional de Golf with 20-under in 2018 and 22-under here at Club de Campo in 2019 (last year's event was cancelled due to the pandemic), Rahm is a red-hot favourite to make it a hat-trick.

Rahm on 'flawless' start

He said: "It was a really good start. Played eight flawless holes and then a bit of a stumble from 18 through three, I didn't hit my best shots and was able to save a couple pars to minimise the damage.

"After that I was able to play some good golf coming down the stretch, giving myself some chances, but obviously we saw what Ross McGowan shot this morning - ten under is a heck of a round out here.

"I played good enough to maybe do it, but you have to play flawless and make the putts, hit the right shots and on a golf course like this that is a little bit more old school, it is a little narrower and targets are smaller, so it is easier to end up out of position. Overall, very happy with my round.

"There are quite a few fans out here and they are rather enthusiastic, they have been cooped up for too long and they have the chance to come out and watch me play, which I haven't played on Spanish soil since this event two years ago, so they are golf hungry, and they were great.

"From the beginning, every single shot and every single putt I made they were really supportive, and every time I missed a shot, they were extremely supportive as well, so that always helps."

Forrest fires hole-in-one

Meanwhile, shot of the day went to Grant Forrest who drained his tee shot for a hole-in-one on the par-3 9th.

That was his second eagle of the round.

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