FORT WORTH, Tex.—Jon Rahm was at Colonial during tournament week each of the past two years to accept the Ben Hogan Award that goes to the nation's top college golfer.
This time, he's playing in the PGA Tour event at Hogan's Alley and among the leaders.
With his four-under 66 yesterday, Rahm was a stroke behind first-round leaders Kelly Kraft, Derek Fathauer, and PGA Tour rookie J.T. Poston.
That also put Rahm ahead of two-time Colonial champs Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson after both birdied their last three holes for 67s.
He also led 2016 winner Jordan Spieth, whose even-par round included six birdies.
“The last two times I was here, all I recorded was super happy and positive memories,” Rahm noted.
“It's just the vibe that I have around this place is so positive, especially with Sergio [Garcia] winning and with the Ben Hogan history that I'm related to now.”
The 22-year-old Rahm, the winner at Torrey Pines in January, only had one bogey while playing with Masters champion Garcia, the fellow Spaniard who won in his first Colonial appearance back in 2001.
Kraft and Graeme McDowell, tied with Rahm for fourth, had the only bogey-free rounds yesterday.
Only 33 of the 121 players finished the first round under par.
Scott Brown had the other 66, and had the outright lead at six-under before a double-bogey at No. 18.
Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask. was the low Canadian, firing a 69 to finish the round tied for 24th at one-under par.
Spieth, coming off missed cuts the past two weeks, was tied for 34th his six birdies, four bogeys, and a double-bogey.
He was even par after birdies on his last two holes.
“It's a great finish. Kept me in the tournament,” Spieth noted.
“If I was a couple over, you know, in the back of my mind I would be wondering about the cut line,” he admitted.
Before his birdie-birdie finish, Spieth had double-bogey at the 429-yard 15th, when he blasted from a fairway bunker through the green and into the water.
He then made bogey at the par-three 16th.
Mickelson, back at Hogan's Alley for the first time since 2010, made an eight-foot putt at the 435-yard seventh hole, then hit his tee shot inside two feet of the cup at the par-three 8th.
His 33-footer at No. 9 came after playing partner Matt Kuchar had just missed a slightly longer putt on the same line on their finishing hole.