Jon Rahm of Spain has been the best player on the planet for several months and he is finally back atop the World Golf Rankings.
Rahm blew a three-stroke lead, but made two late birdies to shot 2-under-par 69 and claim a two-stroke victory over Max Homa of Valencia and Cal in the 96th version of what is now the Genesis Invitational on the famed course designed by the legendary George C. Thomas at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.
“I started the day really well with a birdie on the first hole and a couple more on the front nine, but then I made some mistakes and it got a little ugly from holes 10 to 13,” said Rahm, who has won three times in five starts this year and captured five of his last nine official events around the world. “But then I turned things around and made some good shots coming in to regain control.
“Max was playing well, but I just wanted to hit some good shots in front of him to put the pressure on and was able to do that. I hit a great putt at No. 14 and a really good tee shot at No. 16 and they turned out to be the difference. I knew if I could play the last several holes under par, I could win, and I did.
“It’s an honor to win Tiger Woods’ tournament on this great course after winning Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament, since they are the two greatest golfers of all-time.”
Rahm, who claimed his 10th PGA Tour victory and 20th of his professional career, sank a 46-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole to regain the lead and hit a brilliant tee shot to within three feet of the hole for another birdie two holes later en route to recording a 72-hole score of 17-under 267.
Homa, the hometown favorite in the Los Angeles-area event who was in or near the lead all the way after an opening 64, made birdies on the ninth and 10th holes put him ahead on the back nine in the final round, but he closed his 68 with seven pars and a bogey.
“I hung in there with Jon as best I could, but I wish I could have driven the ball better today and might have been able to win,” said Homa, who has claimed four of his eight PGA Tour victories in California and climbed to No. 8 in the world. “I was able to handle my nerves and I hung in there against the best player in the world.
“I putt myself in some tough spots on the back nine and wasn’t able to make any birdies, but I felt like I pushed him even though I didn’t get it done. But I love this golf course and the fan support I get here, and I will be back here trying to win this tournament again (as he did in 2021).
“But this is going to hurt for a little while.”
Fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and nearby UCLA collected three birdies on each nine in a 67 and finished three shots back in solo third, followed four behind by seventh-ranked Will Zalatoris, the San Francisco native who made five birdies on the front nine in his 67, and Keith Mitchell, who was five down in fifth after two late bogeys left him at 70.
Tenth-ranked Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal sank a 31-foot eagle putt at No. 17 sandwiched around two birdies to card a 67 and finished six strokes back in a tie for sixth with Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills and Pepperdine, who had a bogey-free 66, while Matt Kuchar closed with a bogey-free 67 and was seven down in solo eighth.
Jason Day of Australia birdied five of the first seven holes en route to a 65 and wound up eight shots back in a tie for ninth with Adam Svensson of Canada, who made four early birdies in a 69, and Gary Woodland, who birdied No. 17 to shoot 71.
Scottie Scheffler, who lost his top ranking to Rahm and slipped to No. 2, made two late birdies for a 68 to tie for 12th, ninth-ranked Justin Thomas tied for 20th after a 68, while third-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland made three early birdies in a 71 and tied for 29th, and sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State shot 68 to tie for 33rd.
Tournament host Woods, playing for the first time since the 150th Open Championship last July at St. Andrews in Scotland, followed his 67 with a 73 to tie for 45th.
“I hit the ball as well as I did at home, but I missed a lot of putts I should have made or I would have scored better,” said Woods, whose TGR Foundation is the tournament beneficiary. “But it was great to be back out there again. I loved it.
“And of course, it was a great week for the Foundation.”
Woods, who has been nursing a right leg injury since a rollover SUV accident two years ago, would not commit to when he might play again, but said his goal for this year is to play all four majors, starting of course with the Masters in April.
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