European Tour

World number one Rahm in sight of Spanish Open lead

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Spanish golfer Jon Rahm
Spanish golfer Jon Rahm

World number one Jon Rahm made the most of home comforts at the Spanish Open on Thursday, posting an impressive 8-under-par 63 in the first round.

Rahm is playing in Spain for the first time in almost two years and the 26-year-old looked more than comfortable at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, where he is bidding to win the Spanish Open for a third time in a row. The event was cancelled last year.

The 26-year-old trailed Englishman Ross McGowan, who finished 10-under-par, and his Spanish compatriot Sebastian Garcia, who came in one shot off the lead.

Rahm, who was born in the Basque country, enjoyed the support of the home crowd and the reigning US Open champion said he felt no extra pressure.

"Not at all, it motivates me more," he said. "When I was little and dreaming of playing golf in big tournaments, the course was never empty. The more the merrier."

Rahm is looking to become just the second player in the European Tour era to win this event three times after the great Seve Ballesteros.

"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," he said.

"I haven't played on Spanish soil since this event two years ago, so they are golf hungry and they were great."

He added: "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 of pars to minimise the damage."

Leading first round scores in the European Tour's Spanish Open at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, Madrid, Spain, on Thursday (GBR/IRL unless stated, Par 71):

61 - Ross McGowan

62 - Sebastian Garcia (ESP)

63 - Jon Rahm (ESP)

64 - Wil Besseling (NED), David Drysdale, Jamie Donaldson

65 - Grant Forrest, Ryan Fox (NZL), Joakim Lagergren (SWE), Robin Sciot-Siegrist (FRA)

66 - Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN), Wu Ashun (CHN), Romain Langasque (FRA), Santiago Tarrio (ESP), Jordan Smith, Scott Jamieson, David Horsey, Julien Guerrier (FRA), Marc Warren, Aaron Cockerill (CAN)

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