Jon Rahm is firing out of the gates in 2023, with victories in back-to-back starts.
With a final-round 68 at PGA West’s Stadium Course, Rahm secured the win at The American Express, beating PGA Tour rookie Davis Thompson by one shot. The title follows Rahm’s win at the PGA Tour’s first event of the calendar year—the Sentry Tournament of Champions—and it’s his second victory in La Quinta. The Spaniard first won the event (then the CareerBuilder Challenge) in 2018.
Rahm’s ballstriking was consistent all week, as he shot a pair of 64s on Thursday and Friday, followed by a solid 65 to take a share of the lead going in Sunday’s final round.
Although the former U.S. Open champion was miles ahead of his opponent from an experience standpoint, the two were close the whole way coming down the stretch.
“Tough, I’m not going to lie,” Rahm said of the 18-hole battle with Thompson. “The turning point was 16. He misses that tee shot, I put it in the fairway. That’s pretty much a half-stroke penalty right there. So I knew that if I did what I needed to do, I was going to have a one-shot lead going into the last two holes, and I kept hitting the shots that I needed.”
On the par-3 17th, Thompson’s tee shot looked to be out of birdie range, but his attempt turned out to be painfully close. The University of Georgia product left the flagstick in for the lengthy putt, and his ball ricocheted off the pin. The 23-year-old’s expression told the story: That pin may have cost him a chance at a playoff with Rahm.
“A little lucky that Davis’s putt didn’t go in on 17, and a little fortunate that his ball just got over the green on 18,” Rahm said.
“What a heck of a player he is, honestly. He’s doing all the right things, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins soon. He gave me a real battle today, and it was a lot of fun. I’m sure there will be many to come.”
Rahm’s win is his ninth career victory on the PGA Tour, and became the 10th player to win multiple times at the Tour’s Palm Springs stop.
The last time a player has won in back-to-back starts on the PGA Tour was at the CJ Cup, when Rory McIlroy followed up his Tour Championship win with another victory.