01/25/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/25/2020 22:47
Before that title defense in April comes Sunday's round in San Diego. Rahm already won the Farmers Insurance Open in 2017, his first win on TOUR that came in incredible fashion. On that Sunday Rahm played the final nine holes in six under with two eagles and two birdies to blow away what previously was a bunched leaderboard.
'Hopefully, I don't need to shoot 6 under. Hopefully, I do shoot 6 under honestly and I don't have to stress down the stretch,' Rahm said.
'The only thing it's going to do is keep me focused, no matter how good I'm playing, knowing that somebody can come and do the same thing.'
Rahm's Saturday 65 included a chip-in birdie on the first and a hole-out eagle from 111 yards on the second. He then birdied three of the four par-5s and produced a laser from 203 yards on the par-3 16th to set up a three-foot birdie.
Along with his win at Zurich in 2019 Rahm also won three times on the European Tour and sits at third in the world rankings. He has an outside chance to move to second with a victory but at the very least would get within striking distance of top spot should he prevail at Torrey.
'We all try to show up to a golf tournament thinking we're the better player that week and we can do it and it's just a matter of showing it,' he said. 'So hopefully I can keep playing good, do it tomorrow and I can be back here and tell you I was the better player that week.'
While the duo are the front runners, they won't have it all their own way. With them in the final group is FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy. He will start three back of Rahm. A win for McIlroy will take him to the top of the world.
'It was nice to shoot a good third round here and get myself a little bit closer,' McIlroy said after a 67. 'The way it's set up this week, I think it's built for me, especially with how I'm driving the ball. It's playing long, we're not getting much roll out there. The rough's up, fairways are pretty narrow. I would love bent greens instead of poa, but I guess you take what you're given.'
TOUR winners Sung Kang and Cameron Champ, plus rookie Harry Higgs join McIlroy at 9 under. Among the throng at 8 under, just four back, are more TOUR winners in Tony Finau, Marc Leishman, Patrick Reed, J.B. Holmes and Brandt Snedeker.
And then of course lurking, perhaps a little far back but a chance none the less, is 82-time PGA TOUR winner Tiger Woods. He searches for a ninth professional win at Torrey Pines from five shots off the pace.
'I still got to go out there and post a low one tomorrow, still got to make a bunch of birdies tomorrow and move up that board,' Woods said of the challenge ahead of him.
Should he find a way to the top Woods would stand alone at the top of the all-time win list on the PGA TOUR, jumping out of a tie with Sam Snead.