Third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain is close to climbing back to the top of the World Golf Rankings.
Rahm, who will go back to No. 1 with a victory in what is the 96th version of the Genesis Invitational, fired a bogey-free, six-under-par 65 to take a three-stroke lead over Max Homa at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.
However, tournament host Tiger Woods stole much of the show by shooting 4-under-par 67 and is tied for 26th in his first official tournament since the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews in Scotland.
“I knew I could play out here the way I was hitting the ball at home,” said Woods, who nearly lost part of his right left in a rollover SUV accident two years ago not far from Riviera. “The big question was, how was I going to be able to get around the course recover from day-to-day? I’m a little sore right now, but so far that really hasn’t been a problem.
“I’m very pleased with the way I’ve driven the ball all week, but today I made some putts after missing several that I should have made yesterday. I got off to a good start today and everything just seems to be getting better. I feel very good about where I am, but I would like to be closer to the lead.”
Woods, who has never won his hometown event, the former Los Angeles Open in 14 attempts, highlighted his round by hitting a brilliant shot from 190 yards to within three feet to set up an eagle on the first hole as he started his second nine after opening at No. 10, and he added three birdies and a lone bogey at No. 7.
Rahm, who has won the Sentry Tournament of Champions and The American Express already in 2023, sank a 23-foot putt on the final hole for the last of his six birdies, which included five on the first 11 holes as he recorded a 54-hole total of 15-under 198.
“I’m really proud of today, it was a heck of a round of golf,” said Rahm, who has won four of his last nine events around the world. “I took advantage of a couple good lies in the rough and made every putt that I needed to keep the round going, highlighted by the one on No. 13 to save par.
“Somebody’s going to come out tomorrow and somebody’s going to shoot a round of four-, five- six-, or seven-under par. It happens every single tournament we play in, right? So I have to be aware that somebody’s going to make a run and I’m going to have to shoot a 60s round for sure to give myself a chance to win as well.
“I’m just aware that I need to keep doing what I’ve been doing until now.”
Homa, who captured the Farmers Insurance Open in January and has claimed four of his six PGA Tour victories in California including the 2021 Genesis, made his only two bogeys late in his round of 69.
Said Homa, from Valencia and Cal: “Chasing down the hottest golfer on the planet, it’s an exciting opportunity. 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.”
Keith Mitchell, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2019 Honda Classic, made his only bogey in a 69 on the last hole and is four back in solo third, while fifth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA is five shots behind in solo fourth after making only one bogey in a 68, and Gary Woodland is one more down in fifth after making a virtual tap-in eagle on the 11th hole in a 67.
Ninth-ranked Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal made bogeys on three of the last four holes in a 72 and is eight behind in a tie for sixth with Denny McCarthy, who eagled the 10th hole in a 64 that was the low round of the day, Adam Svensson of Canada, who birdied the last hole for a 68, and Tom Hoge, who kick-started his 68 with a 13-foot eagle putt on the first hole.
J.J. Spaun of Los Angeles and San Diego State made four birdies on the back nine in a 67 and is nine shots back in a tie for 10th with Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills and Pepperdine, whose late birdie gave him a second straight 68, eighth-ranked Will Zalatoris of San Francisco, who birdied his first two holes on the way to a 70, and Matt Kuchar, who had two birdies and two bogeys in a 71.
Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler birdied the last hole for a 70 and is tied for 15th, second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is tied for 18th after making his only birdie on No. 17 in a 73, seventh-ranked Justin Thomas birdied the last three holes for a 69 and is tied for 26th, and sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State made three birdies on the back in in a 70.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard