Rookie Davis Thompson is making eagle, and everything else, look easy.
The 23-year-old Davis, who made back-to-back eagles in the first round, added three more eagles while shooting eight-under-par 64 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West in La Quinta to take a two-stroke lead over fourth-seeded Jon Rahm of Spain midway through the 64th version of what is now The American Express.
Every golfer in the field will play the Nicklaus Course, the Stadium Course at PGA West and La Quinta Country Club over the first three rounds before the cut is made after 54 holes, and the final round will be played exclusively on the Stadium Course, which is considered the host course.
“It’s just been execution, a lot of great shots,” said Davis, who eagled the fifth and sixth holes in an opening 62 at La Quinta Country Club. “I’m seeing the line really well on my putts and they are just going in the hole. It’s very nice to see them all drop.
“I was six-under on four holes in the first round and it was just the opposite today, when it was nice to catch fire on my back nine after missing some greens on the front. I just have to remain strong-minded and keep putting one foot in front of the other and taking it one shot at a time the next two days. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s true. Just put the ball on the fairway and on the green.
“It’s just great to be playing out here against the best players in the world.”
Davis, whose only pro victory came in the 2022 Rex Hospital Open on the Korn Ferry Tour, started round two at No. 10 of the Nicklaus Course and made an eagle at No. 11 plus one birdie and a bogey on the back nine. Then, after making another bogey at No. 1, he went birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-eagle on Nos. 3 through 7 and recorded a 36-hole score of 18-under 136.
Rahm, who won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii two weeks ago, collected four birdies on each nine of the Nicklaus Course in a bogey-free 64 after shooting the same score as a day earlier at La Quinta Country Club with a single bogey.
“That was a silly bogey I made yesterday, but I’m playing really well even though I wouldn’t say that I have my ‘A’ game,” said Rahm, who has won three of his last six starts around the world. “I remember the last time I was 16-under after two rounds and in second place here, I went on to win the tournament (in 2018).
“Even though I don’t feel I’m playing my very best, my game still feels really good and I’m rolling the ball very well on the greens. I would like to be a little more confident, but I don’t feel it’s that far off. I’m looking forward to playing the Stadium Course on the weekend.
“That course seems to be playing a little easier right now, but the last time I shot five-under there in the last round and won in a playoff.”
Tom Kim, the 20-year-old sensation from South Korea, eagled the 11th hole in a bogey-free 62 on the Nicklaus Course and is five shots back in a tie for third with Jason Day of Australia, who eagled No. 8 in a bogey-free 64 on the Stadium Course; Sungjae Im of South Korea, who had an eagle on No. 5 in a 66 on the Stadium Course; J.T. Poston, who had six eagles on the front nine in another 66 on the Stadium Course, and Tyler Duncan, who birdied three of the last five holes in a 67 on the Stadium Course.
Patton Kizzire birdied six of his first seven holes after starting at No. 10 while posting a bogey-free 63 on the Nicklaus Course and is six down in solo eighth, while second-ranked Scottie Scheffler recorded a bogey-free 65 on the Nicklaus Course and is seven strokes behind in a tie for ninth with sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, who eagled No. 11 in a 68 on the Nicklaus Course; Scott Piercy, who eagled No. 10, and Justin Rose of England, who both had 67s on the Nicklaus Course, and Taylor Montgomery, who eagled No. 7 in a 69 on the Nicklaus Course.
Fifth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA is tied for 14th after a 66 on the Nicklaus Course, while seventh-ranked Will Zalatoris had a second straight 69 while playing on the Stadium Course and is tied for 59th.
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