Jon Rahm continues to show that Phil Mickelson knows how to pick ’em.
Lefty said soon after Rahm came out of Arizona State a year and a half ago that he already was one of the best golfers in the world.
The 23-year-old Rahm moved to No. 2 in the World Golf Rankings behind Dustin Johnson when he sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole to turn back Andrew Landry and win the CareerBuilder Challenge on the Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta.
“It’s an incredible feeling to play the way I did; I hardly missed a shot,” said Rahm, who will defend his only other PGA Tour title this week in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla. “It’s hard to say what it means, but I didn’t expect to be in this position so soon.
“Props to Andrew, to make birdie out of the rough to get into the playoff, that putt was big. Either one of us deserved to be the champion, so hat’s off to him.”
Landry, who has won four times as a pro including twice on the Web.com Tour but still is seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour, sank an 11-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to cap a four-under-par 68 and catch Rahm.
The Spaniard closed with a bogey-free 67 to post a score of 22-under 266, and both had birdie chances on each of the first three extra holes before Rahm prevailed.
“It was a great atmosphere, a great experience,” Landry, whose best previous finish on the PGA Tour was a tie for fourth in the RSM Classic in November, said after missing a putt from about 11 feet that would have prolonged the playoff. “I made a lot of good putts, but this green is tricky.
“Still, it was a good week.”
John Huh of Los Angeles and Cal holed his third shot from the fairway for an eagle on the 16th hole while closing with a 66 to finish two strokes back in a tie for third with Adam Hadwin of Canada, who birdied five of the last nine holes in a 68, and Martin Piller, who was tied for the lead before making bogeys on the ninth and 10th holes en route to a 70.
Kevin Chappell of Fresno and UCLA had four birdies on the back nine in a 67 and was three shots back in a tie for sixth with Scott Piercy, who had a share of the lead before making two bogeys early on the back nine on his way to a 70.
Sam Saunders birdied the first three holes and six of the last eight to shoot 64 and finished five behind in a tie for eighth with Brandon Harkins of Lafayette and Chico State, who had a 70, and Jason Kokrak, who came in at 69.
Defending champion Hudson Swafford closed with a 71 to tie fore 29th.