He opened with a double bogey at the par-4 1st, thanks to an unplayable lie he had in the right fairway bunker. His drive landed in the trap, but his second shot plugged in the face, similar to what happened to Viktor Hovland on Oak Hill’s 16th hole during the 2023 PGA Championship.
Two holes after that mishap, Rahm made another bogey, which dropped him to 3-over for the championship. Making the weekend was looking more and more difficult.
Yet, Rahm bounced back with authority. He managed to shoot a 5-under 67 and sits at 6-under par through 36 holes.
“It’s weird what really goes on in a player’s mind, right?” Rahm said after the round. “None of those swings felt bad. If anything, on one, it’s an important choice of shot off the tee. 6-iron didn’t feel that bad; it was just an unfortunate thing to happen. And then all the swings on 3 felt good as well.”
Despite the tough breaks over the first three holes, Rahm was swinging well Friday.
He rallied with a beautiful eagle at the par-5 4th, and proceeded to make a 20-footer for birdie at the par-4 9th.
“I told Adam, [my caddy], if we could bring it back to even par by the time we get to the 10th, we can still post 2-, 3-, 4-under, it’s very possible,” Rahm added.
“And I was able to do just that and gain a little bit of confidence after that putt on nine and played a fantastic back nine.”
Rahm had his pistons churning on the back side as he made three birdies over his first five holes. He then closed with two straight birdies to finish, giving him plenty of confidence heading into the weekend and into the Ryder Cup in two weeks.
“It is always going to be a good thing to have a big event shortly before the Ryder Cup,” Rahm said. “And if you’re successful [playing at] it, you can have that much more confidence going to the Ryder Cup.”
Rahm hit 7-of-12 fairways Friday, which awarded him the opportunity to play well at Wentworth, a course that puts a premium on finding the short grass off the tee.
The rough that lines these fairways are thick and heavy, even more so this year because of the wet summer England had.
“You have to put it on the fairway, right?” Rahm said. “Once you’re out of position, bogeys happen fairly easily, especially on holes like the third one.”
“And so I think if I were to see my stats from the 4th hole on, I felt pretty good and fairly constant. Even the mishits off the tee were in the fairway, and I was leaving myself enough chances.”
For Rahm to have mishits, but still have opportunities, speaks volumes about his confidence. That could spell trouble for the Americans in Italy in two weeks.