Rahm shines in Anthony Kim's tortuous return

In his usual fashion throughout his first season in the LIV Golf, Jon Rahm will once again be in contention this weekend

by Andrea Gussoni
Rahm shines in Anthony Kim's tortuous return
© Michael Reaves / Getty Images Sport

In his usual fashion throughout his first season in the LIV Golf, Jon Rahm will once again be in contention this weekend. The Basque player, whose -2 in Las Vegas stands as his worst opening round on the circuit so far, surged at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of the LIV, with a -8 matched only by the Pole Meronk, another recent signing.

Jon Rahm, results

The layout, a typical desert-style golf course akin to TPC Scottsdale, though in this case the Arizona crowd's revelry was absent, replaced by background music characteristic of this tour, invites scoring and was navigated with authority by Jon.

Starting from the 3rd hole (remember that in the LIV, all matches tee off simultaneously from various holes on the course), he secured eight birdies flawlessly, saving par on challenging holes along the way like the 17th.

Similar to the season's initial stop in Mayakoba, this weekend the Lion of Barrika will battle on two fronts because his Legion XIII, the team he captains, climbed to the top position in the collective standings with a total of -17, largely thanks to his performance.

Also contributing to the endeavor were the scorecards of Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, -5, who has brought his good form from the end of 2023 and beginning of 2024 on the PGA Tour to his new 'home', and American Caleb Surratt, -4 in another solid round since he chose this tour to turn professional.

Kieran Vincent's score, even at par, did not count in this round. "Even with two guys with little experience, they manage to put together good rounds like Caleb. Kieran is trying to adapt but has incredible power. The course will be firmer tomorrow and the day after, with more challenging pin positions.

Today there was little wind. I dare not say what the winning score might be," Rahmbo analyzed at the conclusion. Keeping up the good form from the start of the season is Sergio García, -3 with three birdies and not a single bogey.

He was the best of his Fireballs followed by another Spaniard, David Puig, who shot -2, and Mexican Ancer, with the same result. Madrid native Chacarra, who hasn't quite found his rhythm in this early stretch, finished with +1 towards the bottom of the leaderboard, although he delivered the shot of the day sinking a flop shot from the rough for eagle on the 18th.

Kim deflates the hype Aside from Rahm, the spotlight was on Anthony Kim this Friday, returning to play a professional round twelve years after leaving the PGA Tour due to a series of injuries shrouded in mystery. While it remains to be seen if his presence affects the TV ratings of the circuit, the hype surrounding the Californian did not last long as he was the worst player in the field on this first day.

The twelve-year hiatus from the game, during which, according to him, golf became "a fond memory", was evident from his first hole, the 18th, a par 5 that he closed with a six. It was the first of seven bogeys, which he could only correct with a birdie on the 6th, offering shots along the way that are not often seen at this level (along with some gems like the approach on the 17th). It's reasonable to attribute this to rust, as the talent should still be there.

Liv Golf Jon Rahm