Jon Rahm strong in pursuit of number one

 27 Jan 2018 - 8:57

Jon Rahm strong in pursuit of number one
Rahm of Spain plays his shot from the second tee during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South on January 25, 2018 in San Diego, California. Sean M. Haffey/AFP

AFP

La Jolla, United States: Jon Rahm's six-under-par 66 left him one shot behind 36-hole leader Ryan Palmer on Friday and within striking distance of a second straight Farmers Insurance Open crown and the world number one ranking.

The 23-year-old Spaniard is thriving in the first pro title defense of his career.

"You know, it's really fun to be the last person that won here and be playing well again and have a chance to go back-to-back," said Rahm, who had six birdies without a bogey on the Torrey Pines North Course, where Palmer carded a five-under-par 67.

Palmer closed eagle-birdie to grab the lead with a 36-hole total of 133.

Rahm, meanwhile, did most of his damage early, teeing off on 10 and opening with back-to-back birdies.

He was four-under for the round through eight holes and added two more birdies in his last three holes.

"I had the putter really hot on the first nine holes," Rahm said. "I made a lot of really good putts, four for birdie and par, but my short game kept me alive today."

Some six holes in, Rahm said, his swing "started feeling a little iffy off the tee".

"I wasn't hitting it in the fairway, not comfortable, and I was able to save some great pars out there today. Then I kind of pulled it back again on the last few holes."

Rahm arrived at Torrey Pines last year ranked 137th in the world.

His first US PGA Tour victory pushed him into the top 50 and he followed with victories at the Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship.

His victory on Sunday in the CareerBuilder Challenge saw him overtake Jordan Spieth for number two in the world, and he said it's "humbling" to think he has the number one ranking in his sights.

"I'm just trying to keep going and trying to keep playing good golf," Rahm said. "What happens will happen, but so far I'm trying to focus on one round at a time."