Jon Rahm turns into the Pied Piper of Hoylake with round of 63 which he calls his ‘best ever’… as the Spaniard notches greatest Open Championship round at Royal Liverpool since 1897

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It had been one of those nearly- but-not-quite mornings for Jon Rahm, as he marched down the eighth fairway. Here he was, one over par for the tournament, going nowhere fast. The aficionados were following him, such is his popularity, but nobody harboured great expectations.

Indeed, his next shot would be accompanied by one of those uncomfortable silences. He had over-clubbed, sending a wedge into rough at the back of the green. This was symptomatic of how things had been for two days, progress being betrayed by unnecessary errors.

But belligerent as he is, Rahm got up-and-down, his touch as deft as a pickpocket, to save par. ‘Vamos. John!’ hollered one of his compatriots from the crowd.

‘Go on “Rahmbo” lad!’, came another message of encouragement, this one carrying a distinctly more local twang.

And on he went. A birdie at the par three-ninth enabled Rahm, the man who tamed Augusta in April, to set off merrily on his way, playing the kind of golf that showed you why he once spent 52 weeks at the top of the world rankings.

Despite a modest start, Jon Rahm went on to produce the best round of golf he had ever played

Despite a modest start, Jon Rahm went on to produce the best round of golf he had ever played

The Spaniard's six birdies enabled him to card a 63 - the best Open round this course has seen

The Spaniard’s six birdies enabled him to card a 63 – the best Open round this course has seen

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What he produced on the back-nine was breathtaking. His putter became like the Pied Piper’s flute, enticing the crowds to follow this captivating journey that saw him end the day bursting out of the shadows to be viewed as a credible contender for The Claret Jug.

This observer could provide you with all manner of superlatives for what he produced after the turn, with six birdies enabling him to card a 63, the best Open Championship round in the 13 renewals Royal Liverpool has staged, dating back to 1897.

To truly appreciate the significance of this particular body of work, listen to the man himself.

‘That’s the best round I’ve played on a links golf course — ever,’ said Rahm. ‘It stands for itself. It’s my lowest round on a links course and it’s an Open Championship, right? Also the lowest-round shot on this course. It feels really good but there is a lot of work to do.’

True. Rahm also made a point of stressing that the conditions were a little easier than they had been, with many of the back nine holes being downwind. The thing is, though, if it was simple to shoot a low score, everyone would have done it — and they did not.

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From the 10th, Rahm was unstoppable. The standouts were the 11th when he reduced a 392-yard par four to a crunching drive that almost reached the green, booming and bounding over the humps and hollows and a little flick of a wedge towards the hole that gave him a simple putt.

On the tee, there had been some confusion as to why he was waiting for Tyrrell Hatton to finish off and some puzzlement among spectators as to why his caddie, Adam Hayes, had been chuntering about his concerns of the trouble at the back of the green.

When the Spaniard unleashed a guided missile that momentarily threatened to give him a chance of eagle, it all became clear: Rahm had the game to take this course apart and he was prepared to entertain, like on the 16th when he sank a birdie putt from 33ft. The last of his eight birdies arrived on the 18th, when he again got up and down and the ovation he received was suitably thunderous. One lucky girl in a Sunderland top caught the ball he tossed into the crowd.

Rahm had the game to take this course apart and he was prepared to entertain

Rahm had the game to take this course apart and he was prepared to entertain 

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The last of his torrent of birdies came on the 18th hole when he again got up and down and the ovation he received was suitably thunderous

The last of his torrent of birdies came on the 18th hole when he again got up and down and the ovation he received was suitably thunderous

The legendary Seve Ballesteros never managed to shoot a 63 at The Open

The legendary Seve Ballesteros never managed to shoot a 63 at The Open 

Rahm, meanwhile, is left with numbers. To give this context, Seve Ballesteros never managed to shoot a 63 at The Open (his best was a 64 in 1986 at Turnberry in the final round) and mention of this clearly struck a chord. ‘I’d rather win [The Open] three times and never shoot 63,’ said Rahm, when his great inspiration was referenced. ‘I hope that answers your question.’

Ballesteros’s last appearance in this historic championship was at Royal Liverpool in 2006, when he shot a 74 and a 77 and there is no question he will be in Rahm’s mind today, as he aims to plunder his second Major of the year.

‘What else do I need to do? I can’t carry momentum if I’m making bogeys,’ said Rahm. ‘There’s nothing different between the player that was there yesterday and today. The job today was to come out and give myself the best opportunity I could.’

He did that, all right. How gloriously he did that.

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