Jon Rahm may not be ranked No. 1 in the world (yet) but he’s now won back-to-back in his last two appearances, adding the American Express after a tense Sunday showdown with Davis Thompson.
It was a classic David vs. Goliath matchup at the Stadium Course with Rahm up against the upstart 23-year-old Thompson. Rahm has been a dominant force in golf, Thompson was simply looking for his first Tour victory. Thompson gave Rahm perhaps a bit more than he was hoping for.
Rahm got off to the start he was looking for — birdies on the first two holes and three over his first nine. A fourth birdie at the 11th looked like Rahm might have an easy time but it didn’t turn out that way. Thompson equaled Rahm’s birdie at 11, staying within a shot. It was game-on when Rahm hit his worst shot of the day and missed the green at the par three 13th. The result was his only bogey and it was game-on, Rahm and Thompson tied at the top.
The two stay tied for the next two holes. Thompson missed a great opportunity to grab the solo lead but missed a birdie putt from nine-feet at the par four 14th. They were tied at 26-under when they stood on the par five 16th, the hole that Rahm called “the turning point” of the battle. Thompson hooked his tee shot into the deep bunker complex left. He had to play a lofted club from there and left himself with a lengthy third.
Rahm hit a perfect drive but then got the first of two incredibly lucky breaks. Rahm’s second with a driving iron from 278 out, looked like it was headed for the cavernous bunker left of the green, the U.S. version of the famous Hell Bunker on The Old Course. Rahm’s ball hit, started toward the 20-foot-deep monster, then veered right, leaving him a nice look for his third. He pitched to nine feet and made it for the go-ahead birdie after Davis made par.
Rahm’s second good break came at 17, where Davis stood over a 48-foot birdie putt and hit it pure. It looked to be heading into the hole but nipped the flagstick and stayed out. If the flagstick had been out, the ball may well have found the bottom of the hole. Both made par, then at 18, things took another turn Rahm’s way when Thompson’s approach went long and Rahm stuck his shot from the right fairway bunker to 14-feet. Thompson hit a great pitch but failed to pull off a miracle shot. Both settled for par and Rahm had his second win in his last two outings with a closing 68 and a 27-under total.
“Today was definitely a stressful day,” Rahm admitted after the win. “Sixteen was the turning point. I got a little fortunate at 17. What a heck of a player he (Thompson) is. Wouldn’t surprise me if he wins soon. He gave me a heckuva battle today and it was a lot of fun.”
For Thompson, it was only his 20th start on Tour but with that solo second, he found a lot of confidence, not to mention the $872,000 he took home — more money than all of his previous events combined.
“I had a great week,” Thompson said. “Competing against the best in the world is my dream. I did that today and proved I can hang with ’em. It was a lot of fun.”
As for Rahm, he’s climbed to No. 3 in the world and has won four of his last six starts.
Now he heads to Torrey Pines for this week’s Farmers Insurance Open and Rahm has been a terror at Torrey.
“I’m going to go to Torrey, a place that I’m already very confident at, with very high hopes, knowing that I’m doing all the right things,” Rahm said.
Could it possibly be back-to-back-to-back?
He’s that confident.