Rahm, who is trying for his 10th career tour win, was tied for 116th with 11 others,
including playing partner Tony Finau and Justin Rose.
“Not good,” the Spanish star said as he signed autographs in the fading sunshine.
Rahm won The American Express at PGA West in the Coachella Valley last weekend
and the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua two weeks earlier.
Ryder, Rai and Grant have never won on tour. Ryder is coming off three straight
missed cuts. Grant’s last four rounds have been 74 or worse. They took a one-shot
lead over Brendan Steele, who was at 7-under 65, with seven players bunched another
shot back at 6-under 66. Defending champion Luke List and Collin Morikawa, ranked
No. 8 in the world, were in a group of seven at 5-under 67.
The top six finishers and 13 of the top 18 played the North Course. Players will switch
courses on Thursday, with stronger wind in the forecast, and play the final two
rounds on the South Course.
PGA Tour rookie Sam Stevens and Andrew Novak had the best rounds on the South
Course. Both were in the group at 66.
Rahm was 2 under through six holes before he sent his second shot on No. 7 over the
green into a brushy native area. After taking a penalty and a drop in the right rough,
he chipped onto the green and two-putted.
Rahm then bogeyed Nos. 12 and 15 before birdieing the par-3 16th.
“No. 7 was arguably the best swing of the day that cost me two shots,” Rahm said.
“I’ve hit that shot over 25 times in the past with the same wind and I’ve never seen a
ball get pin high and today we don’t know what happened. Somehow it ended up
flying the pin by 10 yards and in the hazard. If it just flies the green and stays in the
rough it’s OK. But that was costly.
“The main thing on the round today, with the tee shots I hit on 6, 7, 12 and 13, I was
3-over par,” Rahm added. “In any other given round I’ve played here in the past I’m
actually playing that at least even par to under par, so it’s easily a three- to five-shot
swing and that’s the difference.”
Ryder, a 33-year-old still looking for his first tour victory, opened his round with an
eagle on the par-5 10th.
“No. 10 is one of the easier holes on the course, short par 5, beautiful hole going
down toward the ocean,” he said. “You’re really thinking kind of it’s nice to hit it in
the fairway, hit it on the green. You’re thinking OK, maybe I can make a 4. I wasn’t
really thinking attack, attack, but there wasn’t much to the putt. It was actually fairly
straight and it was one of those when it was halfway there, it looked pretty good and
it just kind of fell in perfect. It’s almost like a little bit of a bonus, but it’s really nice
to start the round with a birdie or eagle.”