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PREVIEW-Golf-Rahm ready for first start as top gun, Koepka seeks return to form

Spaniard Jon Rahm will make his first start as world number one at this week's WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis where defending champion Brooks Koepka hopes to rediscover his form ahead of next week's PGA Championship title defence.

July 29 (Reuters) - Spaniard Jon Rahm will make his first start as world number one at this week's WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis where defending champion Brooks Koepka hopes to rediscover his form ahead of next week's PGA Championship title defence.

The first World Golf Championships (WGC) since the PGA Tour returned from a three-month COVID-19 hiatus in June is a no-cut event with a loaded 78-player field at TPC Southwind featuring 44 of the top 50 golfers in the world rankings.

Rahm, who became the second Spaniard after Seve Ballesteros to top the rankings after his win at the Memorial Tournament, is in no hurry to vacate his perch.

"Getting here, it's great. I played great golf the last four years, but I can only help but think I can keep playing that good or better to hopefully stay here for a long time," Rahm said.

Koepka, who has been battling a troublesome knee since last year, has struggled in his past three starts, missing two cuts and finishing in a share of 62nd place.

The four-times major winner, who said his knee forced him to alter his training routine, has made a few adjustments to his set-up in a bid to ease the pain.

As he prepares to begin the first of back-to-back title defences, Koepka is starting to see signs his game is turning around but admits his form has been frustrating.

"It will test you mentally, but at the same time, I'm looking at it as a challenge and something where I know I'm going to -- it will turn around eventually," said Koepka.

"Whether it be this week, next week, a month from now, two months from now, whatever it's going to be, it will pay off."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

((frank.pingue@thomsonreuters.com; +1-416-941-8094; Reuters Messaging: frank.pingue.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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