Rahm back in contention after Royal Liverpool course record 63 at British Open

HOYLAKE, England (AP) — The hug Jon Rahm gave his parents after finishing his round at the British Open on Saturday felt a lot better than the one gave he gave them a day earlier.

On Friday, he struggled just to make the cut. This time, he shot the lowest round ever at Royal Liverpool at the Open to put himself back in contention to win the claret jug.

“Today it wasn’t a consolation hug,” Rahm said after an 8-under 63 that was his best ever round in any major. “Days like these are a lot of fun.”

It was a stark contrast to the frustration over the first two days. Rahm left Hoylake upset with his misses, and complaining about the amount of people who got in his way while he played with Rory McIlroy.

“I was playing good golf and I knew what I was capable of,” Rahm said. “I was frustrated because … of the mistakes that I made. I gave up the shots at major championships that are very costly, and that’s mainly it. That’s what I was feeling.”

It was different on Saturday.

Rahm began the day at 2-over par, 12 shots off leader Brian Harman at the time. The Spaniard made eight birdies and no bogeys, shooting 30 on the back nine. By the time he finished his round, which he called his best ever on a links course, Rahm was only four shots off the lead.

Royal Liverpool was the only course on the modern rotation that had not yielded a score lower than a 65 until Saturday.

“The job today was to come out and give myself the best opportunity I could. Whenever you get a birdie, just thinking about one more. That’s simply all you can do,” Rahm said. “I’ve done what I’ve needed, which is give myself an opportunity.”

With the rough not too long, Rahm said his game plan was to use the driver off the tee as often as possible to try to avoid the penalizing pot bunkers on the fairways.

“I was very comfortable off the tee,” he said. “When you are comfortable off the tee, it’s very easy to stay aggressive.”

Rahm said it was one of those days in which he could execute everything he visualized ahead of his shots.

“It doesn’t happen often where you see those shots come out the way they’re supposed to and put them in the spots you’re supposed to,” Rahm said. “You see everything the way it’s supposed to happen unfold, and it’s very unusual.”

It could have gone even better, as Rahm had other good looks for birdies but couldn’t convert them, especially on the front nine.

The world No. 3 made a 6-footer to save par on the eighth, then birdied his next four holes to get going on the back nine.

One of the highlights of his round was a 34-foot putt he made for birdie on the par-4 16. He also drained a 22-footer at the ninth hole and a 12-footer for his final birdie of the day on the par-5 18th.

Rahm won the Masters in April for his second major title and leads the tour with four wins this season. He came to Royal Liverpool off a break after missing the cut at the Travelers Championship nearly a month ago.

Victory at Hoylake would put him alongside Seve Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to win the Open. Ballesteros won in 1979, 1984 and 1988.

Rahm was asked what he felt by becoming the first Spaniard to shoot 63 and do something that not even the great Ballesteros did in a major.

“I’d rather win three times and never shoot 63,” Rahm said.

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