He may not have been at his best, but Jon Rahm secured his first victory of the season after a narrow one-stroke victory against four tied for second.
Brandon Wu, Tony Finau, Davis Riley and Kurt Kitayama finished on -16 and applied strong pressure throughout the duration of the final round.
Ultimately, Rahm’s score of two-under for the day proved enough to win for the first time since the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Rahm’s Strong Start
The Thursday version of Rahm could not have been more unrecognizable from the man who closed out victory only three days later.
Rahm had propelled towards the summit of the leaderboard after an impressive 64, although he was matched by Kitayama, Jonathan Byrd, Trey Mullinax, Brendon Todd and Bryson Nimmer for the lowest score of the day.
Rahm’s opening round consisted of five birdies and one hole-out eagle on the par-4 7th – finishing without a sole blemish on the card.
Aaron Rai shot a 65 to remain close to the leading bunch, whilst Gary Woodland simmered behind after finishing with a 67.
Abraham Ancer, who led a group of Mexican golfers looking for home glory, opened with a disappointing 71, as he failed to take advantage of the score-able course.
The following day could not produce a score as low as 64, but four players did card 65 for their second round.
Riley, who had opened with a modest 69, responded in brilliant fashion, picking up seven birdies and an eagle.
Emiliano Grillo shot over-par for the opening day, but a 65 of his own not only reignited his chances of making the cut but offered a foundation to build from.
Jon Rahm was only one back with 66, but he led the tournament at 13-under at the 36-hole mark.
The cutline was even-par – which indicates that scoring was healthy – and there were some notable figures who missed the latter half.
Luke Donald (+4), Russell Knox (+4), Camilo Villegas (+2) and Matt Every (+1) all failed to progress into the weekend.
Rahm’s Hobble Home
Rahm experienced an excellent first half of his tournament, not only leading but playing some magical golf.
The 27-year-old finished his third round with 68, notching four birdies and dropping one at the par-4 10th.
Nate Lashley shot the lowest round of the day with a 64 – alongside Stephan Jaeger – as none of the field could break the seemingly impossible 63 mark.
Wu produced his best performance of the week with 66, as he accumulated five birdies during his bogey-free third round.
Finau, who started with a 71 before responding positively with 68, found another score in the sixties – this time 66.
Rahm would head into the final round with a narrow advantage, although he would have never expected to have finished only one-stroke ahead of Finau and Wu – who were seven and eight shots behind him after 54 holes.
As far as starts go, Rahm had a fairly steady one – parring the first five holes before consecutive birdies were secured at 6 and 7.
From there, he would par the final two holes to go out in 33 and look fairly confident of securing victory soon.
A slight wobble at the par-4 10th resulted in a bogey, and three pars followed before he would stand on the 14th tee.
Around this stage, Wu and Finau had managed to break the 63 barrier, equaling each other for the lowest score of the tournament.
Kitayama had stayed with Rahm for the duration of the final round, annoyingly yapping at his ankles as he tried to steer the ship home.
The Spaniard would birdie the 14th and finish with four pars – under heavy pressure – to secure his first PGA Tour title of the season.
As a consequence of this week, Rahm has now finished within the top 10 in 49% of his career starts, which is unfathomable to say the least.
Next up for these superstars is the Wells Fargo Championship, where a certain Rory McIlroy headlines the field, and returns as the defending champion – you can read our preview here.