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.

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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.

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That was his second eagle of the round.

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