Jon Rahm sank two late birdies to power past Max Homa for a victory in the Genesis Invitational on Sunday that moved the Spaniard back to number one in the world.
Spain’s Rahm grabbed his third US PGA Tour title of 2023 after wins at the Tournament of Champions and the American Express in La Quinta, California. It was his fifth win in his last nine worldwide starts, a run that included his third Spanish Open triumph in October and victory in the DP World Tour Championship in November.
Rahm was thrilled to capture a win at Riviera Country Club, the classic course west of downtown Los Angeles that has produced such champions as Ben Hogan but where, Rahm noted, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have never won.
Woods, who hosted this week’s event, was in the spotlight as he returned to competition for the first time since missing the cut at the British Open. The 15-time major champion, still limited by the severe right leg injuries he suffered in a February 2021 car accident, carded a final-round 73 to finish on one-under 283, tied for 45th. “It’s progress, but I didn’t win,” said Woods, who reiterated that he’s targeting the four major championships and perhaps “a couple” of other events this season — the most his surgically repaired leg will allow.
“It certainly was a little bit more difficult than I probably let on,” added Woods, who goes through an elaborate ice-bath recovery protocol between each round to allow him to continue. “It’s hard,” he acknowledged. “The body is sometimes saying ‘no’ even though the mind says ‘yes.'”
While Woods drew massive galleries all week, those that watched Rahm and Homa duel in the final group were also treated to a show. Rahm, who captured the 10th US tour title of his career said it was a “true honor” to win at Riviera. “I can’t really explain it,” he said.
Rahm, who last held the number one ranking in March of 2022, supplanted Scottie Scheffler just a week after the American toppled Rory McIlroy with a victory at the Phoenix Open. With recent changes to the ranking system, Rahm expects such shifts to be common for some time, and he won’t be using the rankings as a measuring stick. “I’ve won five of my last nine starts, I haven’t finished worse than top seven,” he said. “I don’t need a ranking to validate anything. “(I’m) having the best season of my life and hopefully I can keep it going.”
SOURCE: AFP NEWS