Jon Rahm shoots Friday 62 to grab share of the lead at the CJ Cup

By Sports Desk October 21, 2022

Jon Rahm was the star of the show on Friday at the CJ Cup, shooting a nine-under 62 to jump all the way up into a share for first place at 11 under with Kurt Kitayama.

Rahm's 62 came after an opening 69, raising his birdie count from six to 10, while cutting his bogeys from four to one as he figured out the Congaree Golf Club course.

Kitayama has been a much steadier presence this week, posting rounds of 66 and 65, with his second round highlighted by an impressive eagle on the par-five 12th hole.

Those two players lead the pack by one stroke, with Australia's Cam Davis and America's Aaron Wise tied for third at 10 under with back-to-back 66s.

Rory McIlroy is alone in fifth at nine under after following a front-nine score of 37 with an impressive 30 on the back-nine, and he is two strokes clear of a logjam tied for sixth at seven under.

The group includes young phenom Tom Kim, as well as former major champion Shane Lowry and England's Tyrrell Hatton, while Masters champion Danny Willett is a further shot back at six under.

Presidents Cup representatives Max Homa and Im Sung-jae enter the weekend six strokes off the pace at five under, with former world number one Jason Day at four under and current world number one Scottie Scheffler at three under.

Being an invitational event with no cut, Collin Morikawa (three under), Rickie Fowler (two under), Justin Thomas (one under) and Hideki Matsuyama (even par) will all get to stick around and play two more rounds.

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    In-form Jon Rahm surged into contention at the Farmers Insurance Open on Moving Day at Torrey Pines but Sam Ryder remains two shots clear ahead of the final round.

    The Spaniard, who started the day at four-under overall, carded an impressive six-under-par 66 on Friday to fly up the leaderboard to 10 under and be within two strokes of Ryder (12 under).

    Ryder had held a three-stroke advantage at the halfway point and maintained his lead despite an even round that included one birdie, where he made a great save after hitting the cart path, and one bogey as the event switched to the South Course for the final two days.

    World number three Rahm seemed to relish the conditions in an ominous sign ahead of the final round, with the second-best round of the day underlining his surge, that included a run of three straight birdies before an eagle on the ninth.

    Rahm moved into outright second with the eagle, with an excellent approach on to the green followed by an 11-foot putt. The 28-year-old claimed his first PGA Tour victory in 2017 at Torrey Pines.

    Tony Finau enjoyed the best round of the day, carding an eight-under-par 64 to move into outright third at eight-under overall.

    Finau, who was the only player to go bogey-free, had six birdies plus an eagle on the par-four first hole when he holed out from 138 yards on his approach.

    A group of four players are tied for fourth at seven-under overall, in Sungjae Im, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa and Sahith Theegala.

  • McIlroy shakes off rust as Dubai Desert Classic gets set for Monday finish McIlroy shakes off rust as Dubai Desert Classic gets set for Monday finish

    Rory McIlroy put himself firmly in the mix at the Dubai Desert Classic after a flourish that disguised the "rusty" golf he feared would put him way down the leaderboard.

    The lucrative DP World Tour event was again hit by wet weather on Friday, after a six-hour delay on Thursday, and with McIlroy among many in the field yet to begin the second round, organisers decided it would be extended to finish on Monday rather than Sunday.

    McIlroy got his work for the day done in the morning at Emirates Golf Club, polishing off an opening round he left in a promising place overnight, having reached two under through 15 holes and given himself a short-range putt at the next that he elected to leave for Friday.

    The world number one made that putt, then holed out from 107 yards for eagle at the eighth hole, his 17th, and finished with another birdie to complete a six-under 66 for what was a share of the lead at the time.

    McIlroy summed up his performance on Thursday as "honestly not very good", so he was thankful to shoot such a low score.

    "I struggled out there most of yesterday," McIlroy said. "I thought did I well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first 14 holes.

    "And then today I came out and I don't really know if anything clicked because I don't think I hit enough shots to know. But it was definitely needed. I would have been happy with anything around 70 the way I played, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus."

    American Patrick Reed, involved in a pre-tournament spat with McIlroy and alleged to have thrown a tee at his rival, joined the Northern Irishman on six under through the opening 18 holes thanks to a 15-foot eagle putt at the last.

    Reed, who missed the cut in Abu Dhabi last week, said: "I'm obviously really happy with the way I played. I felt like last week wasn't really a reflection of all the hard work I've been doing in the off-season.

    "To come out this week and feel like I was able to put everything together and to have my mind right on game planning and course management was definitely a plus. I feel like I had full control of the golf ball and made a couple of putts."

    Reed and McIlroy will play their second rounds on Saturday, but others began their second circuits before darkness brought an end to Friday's play.

    The first-round joint lead was snatched away from Reed and McIlroy by Swedish amateur Ludvig Aberg and Englishman Ian Poulter, who both carded seven-under 65s.

    Aberg then stumbled in the early stages of his second round, slipping back to five under through seven holes, but Poulter had a share of the overnight lead on eight under after making birdie at the third, the last hole he completed.

    Alongside Poulter was fellow English veteran Richard Bland, who followed a 67 by picking up three shots in the opening four holes of his second round.

    Spain's Angel Hidalgo held third place on seven under after he followed a 66 with an early birdie in round two, while South African Louis de Jager joined McIlroy and Reed in a share of fourth position.

  • Rivals McIlroy and Reed share the lead in Dubai at the close of delayed round one Rivals McIlroy and Reed share the lead in Dubai at the close of delayed round one

    Rory McIlroy was tied with rival Patrick Reed for the lead after the delayed conclusion to round one of the Dubai Desert Classic, though the Northern Irishman was not entirely satisfied with his performance.

    The build-up to the tournament has been dominated by a spat between world number one McIlroy and LIV Golf defector Reed.

    American Reed labelled McIlroy an "immature little child" for blanking him at the practice range and was also alleged to have thrown a tee at McIlroy.

    McIlroy said Reed's lawyer served him with court papers on Christmas Eve, although Reed has said he was not behind the subpoena, with the case concerned being one brought by American attorney Larry Klayman relating to divisions between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.

    A strong start from both players on a rain-delayed day one raised the possibility of an intriguing pairing over the weekend.

    And the chances of that happening were increased with McIlroy – who started on the back nine – closing birdie, eagle, birdie to finish his first round at six under par.

    Reed matched that score thanks to a 15-foot eagle at the last.

    Asked for his thoughts about how he played in round one, McIlroy said: "Honestly, not very good. I struggled out there most of yesterday. I thought I did well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first sort of 14 holes.

    "And then today I came out and I don't really know if anything clicked because I don't think I hit enough shots to know, but it was definitely needed.

    "I would have been happy with anything around 70 the way I played, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus."

    The highlight for McIlroy was holing out from 114 yards out of the sand at the eighth (his 17th).

    "You know, I wouldn't say I'm the best fairway bunker player in the world. The desert is a little nicer, it's a little more packed down, so you get some better lies," he said.

    "All I was thinking about was catching it clean. My tendency out of those lies is to hit it a little bit heavy. As soon as I struck it – went down the grip a little bit just to make sure of the strike – I knew it came out really nicely and it was right down the pin.

    "Again, anything inside of 20 feet, I would have been happy with, so that was certainly a bonus."

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