Jon Rahm calls out 'two kids' after stolen ball drama at US Open

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Pictured here, Jon Rahm looking frustrated during his opening round at the US Open.
Jon Rahm's rollercoaster opening round at the US Open included having his ball stolen by 'two kids' on 18. Pic: AAP

Defending US Open champion Jon Rahm recovered from a bizarre mishap on the 18th hole to close out his opening round at The Country Club in style.

Rahm managed to pick up a closing birdie on 18 to card a one-under 69 in a solid start to his title defence.

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The World No.2 sank a 21-foot birdie putt at the last, before delivering a fist-pumping celebration that revived memories of last year's US Open triumph.

The climax to Rahm's opening round was even more incredible after the Spaniard's ball was stolen by kids when he drove it left off the tee.

"I'm pretty sure I know who it was," Rahm said.

"I recognised the two kids that were running the opposite way with a smile on their face. I am 100% sure I saw the two kids that stole it."

Fortunately, Rahm was given a free drop because other fans had seen where his ball came to rest.

Showing the unflappable characteristics that saw him claim his maiden major title at last year's US Open, Rahm brushed off his frustration to send an approach safely on the green, before draining the birdie putt.

"I'm just really happy somebody spotted the ball first. We knew exactly where it was," he said.

"Off the tee I was comfortable. I was past all the trees. It was downwind. I wasn't trying to go that far left, but I was trying to take it over the trees and over the bunkers.

"After the free relief, I had 135 yards to the pin, in an area where the rough wasn't that thick. I don't think they expected anybody to hit it there or be around there."

Seen here, Spain's Jon Rahm playing his shot from the eighth tee during round one of the 122nd US Open.
Spain's Jon Rahm plays his shot from the eighth tee during round one of the 122nd US Open Championship. Pic: Getty

It was a rare souvenir-swiping chance after Rahm had been accurate off the tee until the closing two holes.

"You have to really strike the ball well to put it in those fairways, which I was able to do," Rahm said. "I was never out of position off the tee except the last two holes, but for 16 holes I enjoyed the fairway."

Jon Rahm scrambles well to finish under par

At the dogleg left 17th, Rahm was way left off the tee but put his approach 12 feet from the cup and rescued par.

"I didn't really realise how close I came," Rahm said. "I fully know how lucky I got on that hole and I tried to take advantage to make a birdie, but I'll take the four and run any day of the week."

He expects the set-up will keep him running through the weekend.

"It's not the longest US Open we've played. It's not the trickiest US Open we've played," Rahm said. "But with this wind and those greens, with pin positions, they can make it as hard or easy as they want."

While Rahm's finish failed to hit the emotional heights of his closing birdie at Torrey Pines last year that secured his first major title, it was meaningful.

"It's not really comparable. It's just more of a 'Thank God I made a putt' type deal," Rahm said. "I feel like I played pretty good golf all day. I just saw a lot of them get close and not go in.

"It's more the fact of making a putt to break par on the first round of the US Open. It's quite a big deal."

Rahm is part of a group of players including Australia's Adam Scott that share a tie for 14th at one-under.

Canada's Adam Hadwin is the surprise clubhouse leader after the opening round, having shot a solid four-under 66.

Hadwin holds a one-stroke advantage over a bunch of players in a tie for second, including Rory McIlroy.

Like Rahm, the Northern Irishman also enjoyed a rollercoaster round that included four birdies, one bogey and a pair of tempter tantrums.

with agencies

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