Spaniard Rahm grabs Quicken Loans lead in pro debut

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[June 24, 2016]    (Reuters) - Spaniard Jon Rahm made a stunning start to his professional career with a flawless seven-under-par 64 that gave him a one-shot lead after the first round of the Tiger Woods-hosted Quicken Loan National on Thursday.

Jon Rahm of Spain watches after hitting his tee shot on the fourteenth hole during the first round of the Quicken Loans National golf tournament. at Congressional Country Club - Blue Course. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Rahm, who last week was the only amateur to make the cut at the U.S. Open, fired seven birdies at the event which benefits Woods's charitable foundation to lead Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas by a stroke.

"I was really comfortable off the tee with the driver, hitting it good and hitting it straight, so that allowed me to be a little more aggressive and it paid off," Rahm said.

The start of the first round at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, was delayed by two hours due to thunderstorms in the area, but it did little to unsettle Rahm.

The 21-year-old, who started his round at the 10th, posted three birdies over his first nine holes before picking up another four on the way home.

Smooth-swinging South African Ernie Els, Colombian Camilo Villegas and American Bill Haas were in a group of eight a further shot off the pace.

Defending champion Troy Merritt carded an even-par 71 after mixing three birdies with three bogeys.

Tournament host Woods, who has not competed on the PGA Tour in 10 months, is not playing in his own event as he is still recovering from two back surgeries he had last year.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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