While Open Champion Shane Lowry has the week off at home baby-sitting his young daughter Iris, powerhouse Jon Rahm is set to take the lead in the 2019 European Race to Dubai.
Rahm is very much on target to become the first Spaniard in 70-years to successfully defend the Spanish Open with the 24-year old storming his way to a commanding five-shot lead thanks to a sizzling third round 63 for a 17-under par total on the Club de Campo course in Madrid.
The World No. 5 went out in one-under but then catapulted to the lead in playing holes 10 to 16 in seven-under par, including holing his second shot at the short par-4 16th for an eagle ‘2’.
Not since Marcelino Morcillo in 1948 and 1949 has a Spanish-born golfer won back-to-back national open titles with Rahm also chasing a ninth pro career success and a second this season after earlier this year winning a second Irish Open title in three years.
The US-based Rahm has spoken often of all Spanish golfers walking a path created for them by the late, great Seve Ballesteros and Rahm could reach five European Tour victories in 10 fewer events than his hero at the venue where Ballesteros claimed his 50th and final European Tour victory 24 years ago in 1995.
Rahm said: “I’ve never teed up with such a lead. Every time I’ve teed off it’s been a one shot lead or tied for the lead so it’s going to be a little bit of a different story.
“I don’t know what the challenge is going to be. I have a really good chance to defend this title, I’m feeling good so hopefully I can keep doing what I’ve been doing.
“It’s just one of those days where everything was going good for me on that back nine.”
Rahm arrivied in the Spanish capital trailing 97 Race to Dubai points behind the front-running Lowry while a victory in the Spanish capital would send Rahm into the lead and bump the Offalyman back to second after Lowry brilliantly seized the R2D lead with victory in the 148th Open.
Lowry indicated following last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship he was taking the week to look after young Iris while his wife, Wendy was away for the week.
However, Rahm’s period atop of the R2D money list could be short-lived as Lowry has entered this coming week’s $US7m Italian Open and a Rolex Series event which is not set to feature Rahm.
Fellow Spaniards Rafa Cabrera-Bello (70) and Samuel Del Val (69) share second place in Madrid on a distant 12-under par