V Krishnaswamy in Nassau
Nassau, December 1: Jon Rahm tore up the Albany golf course with nine birdies against no bogeys on way to a 63 and rose from Tied-10th to shared lead alongside recouping Swede Henrik Stenson (66) at the halfway stage of the Hero World Challenge. Both are 10-under 134.
Like Patrick Cantlay, one of the co-leaders on first day, Rahm is also contributing $ 500 per birdie to California Strong and 100-percent of donations go directly ?to those affected by the recent California wildfires.
Sharing the third place are Dustin Johnson (67), who despite three wins in 2018 has lost his No. 1 ranking, and Patrick Cantlay, who like the leader Rahm, is making his debut here.
After an even-par Thursday, Tony Finau, who this season was inside Top-10 in three Majors and three of the four FedExCup play-off events, zoomed up with three birdies on each side and an eagle at the par-5 ninth for a bogey-free 64.
Tiger Woods as usual was in focus again. If it was for not scoring well despite super driving on first day, the second saw him winning applause with five birdies and no bogeys in first 17 holes. Then came 18th.
On Par-5 18th he drove into a palm bush. To get the ball out he had crouch awkwardly on one knee and get it back to grass. He was short of the green; chipped weak and had a double. He carded 69 and is eight behind the leaders.
There were doubts about his shot out of the bush. Extensive video reviews indicated he hit the ball in a manner of raking or pushing and more than once. An 18-month-old rules decision limits the use of video evidence so he was let of without additional penalty because he didn't think he made contact twice.
“When slowed it down to ultra-slow motion, HD TV, you could see where the club did stay on the clubface quite a bit of time, and it looked like he might have hit it twice. But there's no way he could tell that," said Mark Russell, the PGA TOUR's vice president of rules and competition.
There is a lot common between Rahm, and Cantlay, a first-round co-leader. Both had long stints as World No. 1 Amateur before turning pro. It was Rahm who broke Cantlay’s record of most weeks at the top taking it from 55 to 60, though the latter still holds it for the longest unbroken stretch of 54 weeks.
Rahm, playing extremely this year, was candid, “I think the best way I can say is just stay out of my own way, just don't change anything. Things are going well, just keep doing what you're doing. I missed one fairway. That's only because they put a patch of rough in the middle of the fairway on fourth. That’s how right everything went.”
Stenson here for the fifth time has been twice runner-up, including in 2016 when he nearly rallied from a seven-shot deficit before Hideki Matsuyama won.
Not having played much to recover from his bothersome left elbow tendon, now much better, he said, “I'll try and make it to the finish line. I haven't played a lot of golf, though. Since the Ryder Cup, I had an injury problem, I was out for five weeks. So I guess I should be a little bit fresher than some of my colleagues who call me from Hong Kong or somewhere else at this point. We just keep on going, try to make as many birdies as we can."