LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — While Jon Rahm had plenty of chances to pump his right first after nice shots on Sunday, the look of relief on his face after holding off rookie Davis Thompson put into perspective his victory at The American Express.
The Spanish star took advantage of mistakes by Thompson over the adventuresome final three holes and closed with a 4-under 68 to win by one stroke, his second PGA Tour win in as many starts this year.
“I’m, in a weird way, glad that today went the way it went,” Rahm said. “I’ve enjoyed some runaway victories, I’ve enjoyed some comebacks, but today was certainly a struggle. Out of the five birdies I made, what is it, one, two, three of them were tap-ins and the other two were basically 6-footers. So that tells you the story.”
Rahm pumped his fist a final time after tapping in for a two-putt par on No. 18 at PGA West’s Stadium Course.
Rahm and Thompson were tied with three holes to play when Thompson, who led through 36 holes and shared the lead with Rahm going into Sunday, pulled his drive into a deep fairway bunker on the par-5 16th and wound up with par. Rahm made birdie to take the lead. Rahm hit his tee shot into a bunker on 18 but recovered nicely with a shot to 15 feet and pumped his fist. Thompson’s drive found the fairway but his approach bounced on the green and ran down the slope behind it. The rookie hit a bold flop shop that settled a foot to the right of the hole. He shot 69.
Rahm finished 27-under 261 and won for the ninth time on the PGA Tour. He moves up one spot to No. 3 in the world. He is playing next week at Torrey Pines, while world No. 1 Rory McIlroy makes his 2023 debut in Dubai on the European tour.
“Heck of a start,” said Rahm, who won the Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks ago at Kapalua. “Obviously Sentry and this one are very, very different golf courses and very different golf. You still have to go low in both of them. So luckily the mentality is the same.