Jon Rahm, the 'hottest golfer on the planet,' in full control after Saturday at the Genesis Invitational
A win would jump Jon Rahm back to No. 1 in the world, and mark his seventh top-10 finish in as many tries this season.
LOS ANGELES — It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Jon Rahm flew ahead of the pack on Saturday at Riviera Country Club.
The Spaniard has been nearly unstoppable in recent months whenever he opts to tee it up. Now, thanks to a bogey-free 65 in the third round of the Genesis Invitational, Rahm is in position to pick up his 10th career PGA Tour win and reclaim the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings.
“Really proud of today, heck of a round of golf,” said Rahm, who now sits at 15-under on the week and three shots ahead of second-place Max Homa. “Took advantage of a couple good lies in the rough and made every putt that I needed to keep the round going.”
Rahm flies ahead with only bogey-free round
Rahm entered Moving Day a single shot behind Homa. He left the course as the only one who truly survived the round.
Rahm carded the only bogey-free round in the entire field while several guys who were in contention at the halfway point, including Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy, fell behind. Rahm made four birdies on the front nine, including back-to-back ones right before making the turn, and then he tapped-in for birdie again at the par-5 11th.
Rahm’s final birdie of the day came at the 18th, when he sank a 27-footer to pad his lead even more.
Birdie on 18 for the leader.@JonRahmPGA rolls it in and takes a 3-shot lead into Sunday @TheGenesisInv. pic.twitter.com/Vf5FzgwJ8n
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 19, 2023
“The only thing I was worried about was getting that ball to the hole,” Rahm said of his final putt. “I've hit that putt a million times, I've seen that putt hit a million times and we all leave it just a couple rolls short, so I just wanted to get it there.
“Felt good obviously making it. It's a huge bonus, right? It's a difficult hole, birdies are lacking every single year on that hole. To be able to make one and extend the lead going into tomorrow, it's a big bonus.”
If Rahm pulls off the win, it will mark his third of the season following victories at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and The American Express. Barring some sort of major stumble, Rahm should at least notch his seventh top-10 finish in as many tries. He’s currently projected to retake the No. 1-ranking in the world, too, something he hasn’t held in nearly a year.
“Just got to make sure I do what I've been doing and come out tomorrow with my A-game,” he said.
Can anyone catch Jon Rahm?
If anyone is going to catch Rahm, it’s going to be Homa.
Not only is he closest to him on the leaderboard, but Homa’s won at Riviera before. The Los Angeles area native thrives on the West Coast, and has grabbed four of his six career wins in California. All but one of those wins was a comeback victory, too.
“Oh, yeah, it's cool. Chasing down the hottest golfer on the planet, it's an exciting opportunity,” Homa said. “Final group at Riviera, it's awesome. Today was a really fun day of golf.
“Yeah, I relish it. It's exciting. It's an opportunity, and I think in this life it's just about opportunities, getting them and then when you have them, take advantage. So I'm excited to test myself with that.”
While Homa hung with Rahm for a while on Saturday, he stumbled at the end with two bogeys in his final four holes. That opened the door for Rahm, who was solid the entire way through. Homa sits at 12-under on the week headed into Sunday, and Keith Mitchell is one behind him at 11-under.
Though he knows he made mistakes, Homa felt he “played awesome” on Saturday afternoon. If things go his way, and Rahm blinks, Homa expects he’ll be there ready to make his move.
“I'm going to have to play a really good round of golf. This place is tricky,” Homa said. “I know it very well and I feel like I'll know when to pick my spots.
"I'm trusting in everything I'm doing right now, which I think is the key, so I feel good.”