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The first round of the 2022 Farmers Insurance Open is in the books, and the player atop the leaderboard was not technically the best in the field on Wednesday at Torrey Pines.

If that's confusing, it should be. Billy Horschel leads the tournament after a phenomenal 9-under 63 on the North Course, which was playing 3.5 strokes easier than the South Course, where Jon Rahm shot 6 under as the best player on the much harder track.

We'll get to Rahm and his dominance on this golf course momentarily, but first let's take a closer look at Horschel's hot start in San Diego.

The leader

Though it came on a course where the average score dipped into the 60s, Horschel's 63 was still impressive. Even more amazingly, it almost didn't happen at all. Horschel disclosed after his round that he's been struggling with a locked-up back that loosened up enough for him to play a "no expectations" round that led to him climbing to the top of the leaderboard.

How good is 9 under here after Round 1? The five players that tied for second at this tournament last year all finished at 9 under for the week, meaning that if Horschel plays even-par golf from here on, he'll likely have a shot at winning on Saturday afternoon.

"I hit it really good," said Horschel. "I think the longest putt I made was probably on my second hole. I made it from about 25 feet maybe -- 20, 25 feet. Everything else was inside 10 feet, inside 15 feet. Hit some really good iron shots, which I haven't done well the last couple of years. My iron game's really been holding me back, so it was nice to see some of the work, like I said, we did last week come to fruition this week."

Torrey has not been a place where Horschel normally thrives -- he plays the South Course slightly worse than his PGA Tour average -- but if he continues to flush irons, he'll be able to play from a position of defense without taking unnecessary risks on a punitive track over the final three rounds.

Other contenders

2: Michael Thompson (-8)
T3: Stephen Jaeger, Kevin Tway (-7)
T5: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Doug Ghim, Francesco Molinari (-6)

Rahm touched off his 6-under 66 on the South Course with an eagle on the 18th, which he was playing in competition for the first time since winning the 2021 U.S. Open with a birdie-birdie finish. He gained 6.8 strokes on the field Wednesday (compared to 6.1 strokes gained on the field on the North Course) and now he's primed for his third career win at Torrey Pines.

It's the fifth time he's gained three or more strokes on the field in 2022 -- it's still January! -- and his strokes gained average so far this year is just shy of 3.5. His average!

The problem for the rest of the field is now two-fold. First, Rahm has the easy North Course ahead of him on Thursday. If he plays it to field average, which he rarely does, that means he's going to be around 9 or 10 under going to the weekend. That leads to the second problem: nobody in this field has been better at Torrey Pines South. If Rahm sits at 10 under on Thursday night, that might be a wrap on the week.

Quote of the day

"Doesn't shock me [that Rahm shot 66], I think he won a U.S. Open on that course last I checked. He's a really good player, there's a reason why he's the No. 1 player in the world." -- Billy Horschel on Jon Rahm

One thing I loved today

I don't know that I loved it, per se, but I did love the content Brooks Koepka's dyed hair generated. He said earlier this week that he just ... wanted to do it. There will be (and already have been) many, many jokes. I'm already excited for Bryson DeChambeau's response.

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PGA Tour

Good day/bad day

We covered a lot of the good, so let's look at three guys who struggled on Thursday. The aforementioned blond four-time major winner was joined by DeChambeau and Jordan Spieth on the North Course. All three shot 2-under 70, which looks fine on paper until you realize it was a shot worse than field average. They have a lot of ground to make up on Thursday if they want to climb in the tournament -- or even make the cut. 

Craziest ShotLink stat

I loved this on Dustin Johnson, who, again, had a better day than his score suggests. D.J. led the field in strokes gained from tee to green and was second on approach shots after losing strokes on approach shots in six of his last 12 events last season. His time off doing what sounds like absolutely nothing paid some dividends early in this event.

New odds

  • Jon Rahm: 5-2
  • Justin Thomas: 10-1
  • Billy Horschel: 12-1
  • Dustin Johnson: 14-1
  • Sam Burns: 20-1
  • Cameron Tringale: 22-1

Rahm's odds were barely cut in half (7-1 to start) after he played the best round of every golfer in the field, which tells you less about what the next three rounds hold and more about the level he's consistently playing at right now. We didn't talk about what Thomas did on Wednesday, but he was part of the Rahm-D.J. group that shot a combined 14 under. He's T31 right now with D.J., but has the harder course behind him and is seventh in strokes gained after 18 holes. The good news for him? The putter cooperated and he gained multiple strokes on the field on the greens. If that continues, so should his run of four top-five finishes in his last six PGA Tour starts. Plus, he'll be a threat this tournament. 

Rick Gehman, Kyle Porter and Doug Bell react to Wednesday's first round action at the 2022 Farmers Insurance Open. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.