He said he had felt the strain building at the Masters in April. Then ranked 12th, Rahm said he had felt “a little bit of external pressure or expectations.”
He added, “I think I wasn’t as comfortable as I could have been with the situation, and maybe I grew a little more expectations or put more pressure on myself than I should have.”
Rahm tied for 27th at the Masters. He then missed the cut at the United States Open, becoming so frustrated in the process that he unleashed a stream of expletives, slammed clubs into the ground and squared off on a tee sign. Rahm regrouped to tie for 44th at the British Open, but he wasn’t satisfied with his performance.
“I keep accomplishing things, and maybe I’ve put too much pressure on myself,” Rahm said. “Or maybe it’s just a few weeks I’m going to play bad a year, and it happens this year to be the majors.”
Rahm played the first two rounds at Quail Hollow Club with a pair of 28-year-olds, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, both of whom have won the regular PGA Tour event here. Rahm could learn by observing McIlroy and Fowler, who have had a few years’ head start in acclimating to elevated expectations.
The group was Friday morning’s marquee trio. Fowler, employing a conservative strategy, chased his opening 69 with a 70 for a three-under total, five shots behind Kevin Kisner, who finished at eight under for a share of the lead with Hideki Matsuyama. McIlroy made four bogeys on his second nine in his round of one-over 72 and is two over.
Rahm began the day at one under and started auspiciously, with a birdie at the par-5 No. 10 after his drive landed in the pine needles, behind a tree, forcing him to lay up. He sank a birdie putt from the fringe of the green, but his round went sideways fast.
After an errant drive on No. 14, Rahm muttered to his caddie, Adam Hayes, that he shouldn’t hit the shot until he could visualize it. His post-shot commentary is crucial to his emotional well-being, Rahm said.
“When you keep things to yourself, sometimes it doesn’t get through the system, doesn’t get flushed out,” he said.