Grant Forrest renewing rivalry with Jon Rahm, this time in Spanish Open

Grant Forrest came out on top in a title battle with Jon Rahm when they were amateurs and now he’s hoping to repeat the notable feat in the professional ranks this weekend.

Grant Forrest talks through a shot with caddie John McClure during the Open de Espana at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.

At the halfway stage in the Acciona Open de España, world No 1 and home favourite Rahm is lurking ominously, having opened with rounds of 63 and 67 at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid to sit on 12-under-par.

He’s just one shot off the lead, held by Dutchman Will Besseling, in his bid to land this title for a third successive time, including a five-shot success over the same course in 2019.

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Rahm, who had teed off the event as short as the 9-4 favourite and quickly became an odds-on shot after a fast start on Thursday, carded an eagle, three birdies and a bogey in his second circuit to keep his bid for an eighth European Tour win on track.

Jon Rahm during the second round of the Open de Espana at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.

“As it gets firmer, it is going to be more challenging and a much more fun golf course to play,” said Rahm of the final 36 holes.

Forrest, who landed his breakthrough win in the Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews in August, had made three eagles, including a first hole-in-one as a pro, in an opening 65.

He took that tally to four by making a 3 at the fourth, which was his 13th on this occasion, for the second day running and followed that up with three birdies in the next five holes.

“It’s been a couple of good scores,” said the 28-year-old, who claimed his US college win over Rahm in the Redhawk Invitational at Chambers Bay in 2014 during a spell at the University of San Diego of adding a 67 to sit joint-sixth on 10-under.

“I’ve had a mixed bag off the tee, but I’ve managed to score well and hit a few cracking shots to keep the momentum going.”

Asked what he’d liked so far about this week’s venue, Forrest replied, laughing: “It’s about 20 degrees warmer than last week (for the Dunhill Links on home soil). It’s nice to be out there being able to feel your hands.

“It’s a really good golf course. It’s quite a traditional golf course and, if you hit it off line, you are going to be penalised. But, at the same time, especially with the greens being a bit soft these first two days, if you can get it going, then you can make birdies and eagles.”

Forrest made an early exit in the European Masters in Switzerland in his first outing as a tour winner before safely making the cut in the Italian Open (34th), BMW PGA Championship (63rd) and Dunhill Links (27th).

“My game has been good,” said the Haddington-based player. “It’s been improving all the time the last few months.”

Marc Warren finished birdie-birdie, coming home in 32, to sit in a tie for ninth on nine-under, one ahead of both of David Drysdale, who has covered the opening 36 holes without a bogey, and Marc Warren.

On a course seeming to suit the Scots, Connor Syme (six-under), Richie Ramsay (four-under), Calum Hill (four-under) and David Law (three-under) are also through to the weekend.

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