Jon Rahm ‘100 percent sure’ He saw two kids stealing his ball before getting a free drop on the final hole at Brookline

Jon Rahm laughed at being the victim of a cheeky bit of daylight robbery as he made a solid start to his US Open title defense at Brookline.

Aham completed the opening 69 with a birdie in the 18th hole, but only two young spectators were caught off the ball after T-shots pulled into the ruff.

“I’m pretty sure I know who he was,” said Rahm, smiling. “I recognized the two kids who were running in opposite directions and had a smile on their face. I’m 100 percent sure I’ve seen two kids stealing it.”

After putting a new ball into play, Rahm was given a free drop from a temporary immovable handicap and hit his second shot to 21 feet before rolling into a birdie put.

“I’m really glad someone saw the ball first,” said the Ryder Cup star, who hit a provisional ball on day 17 for fear of losing his wild T-shot.

“We knew exactly where it was. After free relief I had 135 yards for the pin, in an area where the rough wasn’t that thick.

“I don’t think they expected anyone to hit it in there or be around, so I was able to drop it in an area that was a bit of a downgrade.”

Rahm’s successful birdie putt prompted a fist pump that brought back memories of his reaction to close out the win at Torrey Pines 12 months earlier, but he added: “It’s not really comparable.

“It’s a thank-god-a-made-a-put kind of deal. I feel like I played pretty good golf all day.

“I’ve just seen a lot of putts pass and don’t go in, and to hit a two way drive in the last two holes and somehow end up with two birdie putts and a tie in the first round of the US Open. To make it last, it’s quite a big deal.”

Meanwhile, England’s Callum Terren admitted that he was stunned to find his name at the top of the leaderboard on day one.

World No 445 carded an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys in his opening 67, matching Rory McIlroy, David Lingmarth and Joel Dahman from the start of the morning.

“I’m pinching myself because I didn’t know my name was at the top of the leaderboard until I hid that last putt, which cut seven of my first eight this season,” said Tareen. Missed to do and was disqualified.” For signing the wrong scorecard from another.

“I started off a little shaky. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous.

“I think, I had 25 feet and three-putts on my first hole (10th), which wasn’t great, but then after three or four holes I settled into the round.

“Like my caddy just kept saying, Fairway, Greens, Pars are really good, and they’re at the US Open.

“I think I made a one-on-one birdie and then gave it straight back.

“I knew the possibilities were coming, so I was patient and tried to execute the golf shots right in front of me, and happily I did.”

Tarren’s last big start was at the 2019 US Open at Pebble Beach, where his club didn’t arrive until Wednesday afternoon and missed the cut.

The 32-year-old from Darlington feared a repeat of what happened when his club didn’t come after traveling to Boston from last week’s Canadian Open, but this time the delay proved too little.

“Luckily, there was someone in Canada who went to the airport and kicked the airport staff a little and they arrived at 2 p.m. on a Sunday,” joked Terrence.

“It wasn’t bad. I walked around with a tack on Sunday to get a feel for the golf course, and then I played 18 holes on Monday and nine holes on Tuesday and Wednesday,” he said.

“I think there’s a little bit of links experience at this golf course, so I’m used to playing a lot of links playing golf back home, so I’m very comfortable here.”