TEMPE, Ariz.--The Arizona State men’s golf team kicked off the 2014 Thunderbird Invitational from its hometown of Tempe on Friday, and the Sun Devils proved to the entirety of the field exactly who owns the par-71 Karsten Golf Course. After round one of three, ASU holds a commanding seven stroke lead, much in part because of the round of 62 put up by Jon Rahm who sits in 1st place, as well as the six Sun Devil golfers within the top 12 of the standings.
Rahm posted a 9-under through the first 18 holes of competition, barely missing out on tying the tournament record of 61 shot in 2004 by one stroke. He also came one stroke short of his best round as a Sun Devil, which came in the NCAA Championships in 2013.
Rahm could feel his game at a top level from early on in Friday’s round, as he birdied four of the first five holes on the day, all of those four birdies coming consecutively. He managed to not bogey a single hole, proving his familiarity with his school’s home course.
As a team, ASU shot a combined 13-under par 271. Iowa holds onto 2nd place at this point, but remains only at 6-under, giving the Sun Devils a hefty advantage and space to work with during the final two rounds of competition.
As well as Rahm, Arizona State also has two other golfers posted in the top ten after the first 18 holes. Ki Taek Lee shot an impressive 4-under par round of 67 which has him tied for 3rd, while Blake Cannon is tied for 8th after shooting a 2-under par round of 68.
Like their teammate Rahm, Lee and Cannon also negated any bogies on their rounds. Lee sunk four birdies and the rest pars as Cannon made two birdies and 16 pars.
Trey Ka’ahanui, Nicolo Galletti and Max Rottluff barely missed out on top ten positions, and all three sit tied for 12th place at 1-under par after shooting rounds of 70. The trio will look to the front on Saturday, just one stroke out of the top ten.
Broc Johnson shot a solid round of 1-over par 71 and sits in a tie for 36th thus far, but was overshadowed by his teammates’ uncanny success after day one of competition concluded.
Golfers take to the course for round two on Saturday, with tee times beginning at 8:00 a.m. PT.