DP World Tour Championship, Dubai
Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 15 Nov 2018 - 18 Nov 2018
Thursday, 15 November 2018
Jon Rahm  (Getty Images)
Jon Rahm (Getty Images)

Jon Rahm kept his hopes of making history very much alive after he made a positive start to the defence of his DP World Tour Championship, Dubai title.

The Spaniard spoke coming into the week of his desire to win back-to-back at Jumeirah Golf Estates, while a victory would also make him the first player to win three Rolex Series events.

He shared the lead after 15 holes on Thursday but then made consecutive bogeys before a bounceback birdie on the last left him just one shot behind pace-setters Adrian Otaegui and Jordan Smith.

“I am defending champion,” he said. “I like the thought that I am the only one who can win it two years in a row, so I'm keeping that in mind.

“It's really important to keep the ball in the fairway off the tee. If I keep hitting good drives like I have today and like I did last year, decent iron play, I'm going to have a lot of birdie chances.

“So if I keep hitting the driver like I did today, I'll definitely have a chance Sunday.

“It's very easy to look at 16 and 17 and complain about those two bogeys because I really had it going playing really good golf. But I would have taken five under at the start of the round.

“Last year was a great combination of strength off the tee and iron play, today it was nothing different to that. So if I can keep the train going, and it seems like this ground makes me have a little bit of above-average ball-striking days, I'm going to have a chance.

“I just like it, it's a course that suits my eye. I enjoy it a lot so, hopefully, I can keep the rounds in the 60s going.”

Major Champion Danny Willett also carded a 67 to sit at five under as he continues to show signs of getting back to his very best.

The Englishman would admit he has been in the doldrums somewhat with form and fitness since winning the Masters Tournament in 2016, but he now does not want the season to end as he is back to full health and the work he has been doing with coach Sean Foley is starting to bear fruit.

“It's a shame it's the last event of the season,” he said. “From kind of June, July onwards, we were making better strides and we could work harder and work longer and that's had a big impact.

“The longer you can work, the quicker your game is going to be and at first I was struggling. Now we're on track and we're able to work a bit harder and I'm seeing the results quite nicely in practice.

“We got here and have the ball under nice control and movement is pretty good. We're going to play 54 holes left in the year and just play until the bell goes and see where we finish.”

A Rolex Series Event

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WILLETT, DannyENG18-18
T2REED, PatrickUSA18-16
T4RAHM, JonESP18-14
T4OTAEGUI, AdrianESP18-14

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