Rookie Davis Thompson still holds his spot on top on the leaderboard, although now he shares it with four-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain.
Rahm (pictured) posted a 7-under-par 65 on the Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta to hold the lead for much of the day, but Thompson had a 67 on the same course and they are tied heading into the final round in the 64th version of what is now The American Press.
Every golfer in the field played the Stadium Course, the host course, the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West and La Quinta Country Club over the first three rounds before the cut was made, and the final round will be played exclusively on the Stadium Course in what some people still call the Bob Hope Desert Classic.
“Nothing but positive,” said Rahm, who captured the Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks ago in Hawaii for his third victory in his last five starts around the world. “The ball-striking felt amazing. I hit a lot of great shots out there off the tee and gave myself a lot of opportunities with the irons. I took advantage of quite a few of them.
“So, I’m very confident going into tomorrow and knowing that I’m going to have to shoot another low score if I want to have a chance to win. I hit three great shots early in the round to get off to a great start and hit the ball well day.
“However, I missed some short putts and maybe left six shots out there.”
Rahm, who also won the Spanish Open and the DP World Tour Championship late in 2022 and captured this tournament in 2018, holed out for eagle from17 feet on the fifth hole and added six birdies in his round before making his lone bogey at No. 17 while recording a score of 23-under 193.
Thompson, who led by two strokes over Rahm with scores of 62-65, had five eagles in the first two rounds but none in round three, when he made four birdies on the front nine and added two more coming home against his only bogey at No. 14.
“It’s great and I feel like I don’t have anything to lose in my rookie year,” said the 23-year-old Thompson, whose only pro victory came in the 2022 Rex Hospital Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour. “I just kind of free-wheel it out there. But I’m excited to play with Jon (in the final round). He’s obviously a top-five 5 player in the world. He’s very good. But I’m excited about the challenge and just looking forward to tomorrow.
“I felt like I stayed patient all day and made some putts. I got off to a great start, which always helps. Up-and-downs on Nos. 5 and 6 were huge for me just keeping the momentum going. I was really proud with how I stayed patient. I didn’t really force anything. I made a bad bogey on No. 14, but came back and birdied 16. So it was a good way to finish.”
Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa collected 10 birdies in a bogey-free 62 on the Nicklaus Course and is four strokes back in a tie for second with J.T. Poston, who eagled No. 11 and added six birdies in a 66 at La Quinta CC.
Harry Higgs collected seven birdies on the back nine after starting at No. 10 on the Nicklaus Course and added five more coming home on the front before his only bogey at No. 9 and his 62 left him five shots behind in a tie for fifth with Sam Burns, who eagled No. 11 in a bogey-free 64 on the Nicklaus Course; 20-year-old Tom Kim of South Korea, who birdied the last hole for a 67 on the Stadium Course, and Taylor Montgomery, who eagled No. 8 and birdied the last two holes on the Stadium Course.
Second-ranked Scottie Scheffler made his only bogey on the last hole of a 66 on the Stadium Course and is six down in a tie for ninth with Dylan Wu, who carded a brilliant 61 with six straight birdies on his back nine of the Nicklaus Course; Chris Kirk, who posted a bogey-free 63 on the Stadium Course; Robbie Shelton, who started the back nine with seven consecutive birdies in a 65 on the Nicklaus Course; Patton Kizzire, who had three straight birdies on the front nine of a 67 on the Stadium Course, and Sungjae Im of South Korea, who birdied three of the last five holes in a 68 at La Quinta CC.
Sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State eagled the fifth hole and is tied for 16th after a 68 on the Stadium Course, while seventh-ranked Will Zalatoris made three late birdies in a 67 at La Quinta CC and is in a tie for 49th with Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, who chipped in for a birdie on the last hole to cap a 71 on the Stadium Course.
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