Golf: Rahm makes a closing birdie at the US Open despite his ball being stolen by kids

Jon Rahm plays his shot during the 122nd U.S. Open Championship in Massachusetts on June 16, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

BROOKLINE (REUTERS) - Jon Rahm had a solid start to his US Open title defence on Thursday (June 16) but it was not without drama as he needed two balls to finish his closing hole when two kids felt his initial one would make for a nice souvenir.

The Spaniard's tee shot at the par-four 18th sailed way left and when he got to where the ball was marked, it was nowhere to be found as some onlookers figured it was better than anything they could buy from the merchandise tent that lines part of the hole.

"Somebody - I'm pretty sure I know who it was. I recognised the two kids that were running the opposite way with a smile on their face," a laughing Rahm told reporters. "I am 100 per cent sure I saw the two kids that stole it."

But he remained calm and was allowed to drop another ball and from there got to take another drop since a grandstand was in his way.

The Spanish world No. 2 then stuck his approach shot to 21 feet and went on to drain the birdie putt for a one-under 69 that left him three shots behind first-round leader Adam Hadwin of Canada.

A clutch of players, among them four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy, lie on 67.

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

"Off the tee, I was comfortable. I was past all the trees. It was downwind, and that's why it kind of took - 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, so I was able to drop it in an area that was a little downgrain, and I wasn't in jeopardy of carrying the bunker.

"That wasn't really a concern."

'Lost' clubs no deterrent for Englishman

Another player who "lost" his gear - at least for a day - was Callum Tarren, who lies second on a 67.

The unheralded Englishman nearly had to get a new set of clubs for the tournament after they were misplaced by an airline.

The PGA Tour rookie flew into Boston from Toronto on Saturday but his clubs did not make the trip until the next day, which was actually an improvement compared to 2019 when he said they did not arrive until the eve of his first US Open.

The 31-year-old Darlington native said people he stayed with during last week's Canadian Open, where he missed the cut days after qualifying for the US Open, went to the airport to give "a little kick" to the airline staff.

"There were five other players on my flight. They all got golf clubs, so it was the second US Open I've played in and second time no golf clubs," Tarren told reporters.

"This time I got them a little bit faster than last. I didn't actually get them until Wednesday in Pebble Beach a few years ago, so that was a nightmare."

The world No. 445 is making the most of his second Major championship appearance as he went out in the morning wave at The Country Club outside Boston and mixed an eagle with three birdies and two bogeys.

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