The Players: Jon Rahm thriving off ‘positive energy’ of crowds at TPC Sawgrass

Jon Rahm believes the “positive energy” provided by the presence of fans at the Players Championship is benefiting his game after moving into contention with a four-under 68 in the second round at TPC Sawgrass.

The PGA Tour has cautiously welcomed back a limited number of spectators in recent weeks, with 10,000 fans permitted each day this week in northeast Florida for the tour’s flagship event.

World No 2 Rahm made five birdies on Friday, including four on his back nine, after he had earlier been at one over par for the tournament after a bogey at the 14th.

At four under, he sat three shots behind first-round leader and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who was yet to begin his second round.

“From zero to 10,000 it’s a pretty big difference. It’s nice that they’re back, to be honest,” Rahm said of the atmosphere generated by the fans.

“I don’t know how to put it exactly, but you can feed off the crowd. You’re going to get a lot of people that are supporting you, and whether you hit a good shot or bad shot, you can feed off that positive energy that they’re giving you.

“I’ve missed them. I’m glad they’re back. Hopefully we can keep having them, and as long as we don’t get any outbreaks or any spikes, hopefully we can keep playing events with the crowd.

“At the end of the day we play for ourselves, but we’re here to entertain, as well, so we’re playing for them.”

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Rahm, whose last title came with a dramatic play-off victory against Dustin Johnson at the BMW Championship last August without spectators, believes some over-exuberant fans are also to be expected.

He added: “Pretty much on every hole on every group there’s the one group of five people that have missed being out here and they’ve been thinking for a whole year of something to say when we hit a shot, and that’s what they absolutely have to yell every single time.

“They want to be heard. And I don’t blame them.”

Rahm, who opened with an even-par 72 on Thursday, admitted his birdie at his closing hole – the par-five ninth – was “big” going into the weekend’s play.

“It was a pretty stressful round,” he said. “I was barely in the fairway, fought all day, and I just thought it was a free birdie look, and took advantage of it.”

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