SAN DIEGO — Torrey Pines is Jon Rahm’s happy place.
This petite residential community on the northern coastal area of America’s Finest City is where he and his fiancée, Kelley Cahill, got engaged last year, and the couple love the laid-back vibe of the area that overlooks the Pacific.
Rahm also delivered some fine golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course when he was playing for Arizona State. He later won his first PGA Tour title in 2017 with a last-hole eagle here on the South Course. And on Thursday he shot a 10-under-par 62 on the North Course — one shot short of tying the course record — to take the first-round lead of the Farmers Insurance Open.
“There’s a lot of happiness going on in this area for me, so I just feel I’m going to play well when I tee up,” said Rahm, who at just 24 is ranked No. 7 in the official world golf rankings and has won two PGA Tour titles, three European Tour titles and the 2018 Hero World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods.
At day’s end, Rahm held a one-shot lead on world No. 1 Justin Rose and Doug Ghim. C.T. Pan was alone at 64. Three-time major champion Jordan Spieth fired his best round of the season, a 65, to stand alone in fifth place. The top five players all played the North Course.
Tiger Woods shot 70 on the South Course.
“I’m in a very positive state of mind and very confident,” Rahm said. “Partly also because I was able to win my first Tour event here and knowing how I played then and how I got it done, I know I can win any way that I tee up here.
“I look forward to coming here honestly whether I’m playing or not, but when you get a place like this, a golf course like this, weather like this and a round like this, it’s not going to get much better.”
On Sunday, it might. For the first time since he turned professional, Rahm’s grandmother, Miren, is watching her grandson play golf in the United States. She has watched Rahm play in the Ryder Cup in Paris and in the Spain Open in Madrid. But after a long journey from Spain, she was in the gallery when the Farmers Insurance Open began.
“Couldn’t be happier that she’s here,” Rahm said. “She keeps calling it the trip of her life. I highly doubt she has any idea or clue what I did today, to be honest. My grandpa was the one that knew what golf was, he knew what a birdie or a bogey was. For her, she just asked him.”
Well, Miren heard “birdie” seven times during the first round, “eagle” twice and “bogey” just once. But it was a par that Rahm called the key to his round.
“The biggest turnaround today was No. 4, my 13th hole,” he said. “Missed it left, the ball went deep in the rough, not much room to work with. I had about three feet of an upslope to land it on, and to really get the par on that hole was what changed things. I made four birdies in a row after that.”
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He made eagle on his first hole, the 10th. After a perfect drive to begin his day, he hit a 5-wood to six feet and rolled the putt in. On the 17th, he knocked a 4-iron to 12 feet and made the ball disappear for another eagle. It is the second time in the Farmers Insurance Open when he’s made two eagles in one round.
“If you take into account the town and the vibe around Torrey Pines, this is my favorite golf course and golf tournament,” Rahm said. “Golf course, for sure, just because there’s a lot of good history for me.”
His first round Thursday did nothing to change that feeling.