The CareerBuilder Challenge got off to a slick start on Thursday with 40 golfers shooting 5 under or better. Jon Rahm leads at 10 under after carding a 62 with eight birdies and an eagle. A trio that includes Austin Cook, Jason Kokrak and Andrew Landry trails Rahm by one.

With the worst winning score over the last six years checking in at 20 under, we aren’t going to see scores go backwards over the next few days. Rahm is the favorite at +225 (as he should be), but it’s going to be a birdie festival in the desert. 

Let’s get to five thoughts on Round 1.

1. Rahm is a boss: You can tell some guys are great by the tournaments they win. You can tell some guys are great by the scores they shoot. You can tell some guys are great because they assert themselves as the alpha in lesser tournaments like this one. Rahm did that on the first day here, and he started the day where he began it: As the guy to beat. You get the feeling that he loves this role, too. He loves being The Guy in tournaments like this one. I’m excited to see him try to go and win it.

2. Phil Mickelson’s return: He finished with a 2-under 70, but that’s not going to get it done at this tournament as Lefty is T88 and eight back after 18 holes. Mickelson said he felt like he drove it well, but other parts of his game let him down.

“The strength of my game my iron play was not as tight today,” Mickelson said. “I didn’t hit it as close as I needed to and didn’t make as many birdies as I should have.”

The stats back him up. He hit over 70 percent of fairways off the tee and averaged 302 yards with his driver. Mickelson noted that he’s looking forward to playing the other two courses in the three-course rota on Friday and Saturday because he scores better there. 

I think Mickelson thinks he could score on Mars, though, so we’ll see. 

3. The amateur rocked: 17-year-old Charlie Reiter shot a 4-under 68. He got a sponsor exemption into the field, but said he didn’t have any expectations about what was going to happen. Day 1 went swimmingly, though, as he beat Brandt Snedeker, Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner, Patrick Reed and Mickelson.

4. Web.com Tour strong: The Web.com Tour produced seven guys who are currently in the top 10 (and six of those were in the top five!). I know this field isn’t the strongest, but that’s incredibly impressive. They were led by the feel good story from the 2016 U.S. Open (who also got smoked by Dustin Johnson in the final round on Sunday), Andrew Landry.

5. The insane bunker at the Stadium Course remains insane: This bunker was big enough for Grayson Murray (who shot a 7-under 65) to go sledding in! Good luck getting one out of there.


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