AVONDALE, La. – At age 42, Ryan Palmer is 18 years older than his playing partner, Jon Rahm, this week at the Zurich Classic. Despite the gap, Rahm and Palmer proved themselves as one of the most compatible duos at TPC Louisiana.
The pair got off to a hot start in foursomes Friday evening, birdieing each of their first three holes, Nos. 10-12, and after completing six holes before the horn sounded for darkness, they returned Saturday morning to card four more birdies and a second-round, 7-under 65.
It was the round of the first alternate-shot session and it gave Rahm and Palmer the 36-hole lead at 15 under. They lead Peter Malnati/Billy Hurley III and Brian Gay/Rory Sabbatini by a shot.
“A lot to it is how we started,” Rahm said. “[I] made a good putt on 10 for birdie (from 28 feet), and then we just didn’t miss many shots, got ourselves in good positions to make a lot of putts. I made putts yesterday, Ryan was making putts today, and the few times we made mistakes, we just were able to fix it.”
No recovery was better than Rahm’s chip-in birdie on the par-3 ninth hole, their final hole of the second round. Palmer nearly hit his tee ball left and into the water, and that’s when Rahm turned to him and said, “We’re going to end this round like yesterday.”
On Friday, Rahm capped their four-ball round with a 15-foot chip-in for birdie at the par-5 18th hole.
A day later, Rahm was able to hole out from about 20 feet to give his team the solo lead entering the third round.
[email protected] and @RyanPalmerPGA are tied for the lead at the @Zurich_Classic after making birdie to finish off their second round ?pic.twitter.com/fhaj0oRGnP
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) April 27, 2019
“I was thankful [the shot] stayed where it was,” Palmer said. “I knew it was a good lie because I went and looked at it. That’s why he’s so good. His short game is unbelievable. … It’s nice knowing when you make mistakes you’ve got a short game like that to back you up.
“But our games are so good together because we both drive the ball so well, and when our iron play is on, knowing how good he can putt and when I get the putter rolling, we’re going to make a lot of birdies in both formats. It’s exciting to be in this position.”
Saturday’s third round will begin at 11:20 a.m. local time. Rahm and Palmer will go off at 1:17 p.m. with Hurley and Malnati. With. 10 teams within three shots of the lead and four-balls returning as the third-round format, Rahm and Palmer know they need to keep building momentum.”
“I feel like we’ve been playing for five days already,” Rahm said. “… That leaderboard is packed, so I think we’ll try to stick to what we’ve been doing and get a low round going today.”
Added Palmer: “This next round is the key round. You’ve got to shoot 7, 8, 9 under par, I think, in the low-ball format, and that’s where the scores are at. I’m excited about our alternate-shot format the way we’re playing. If we go and take care of our business, I think we’ll be there on Sunday.”