Jon Rahm shoots course record as title defence hots up

By Sports Desk April 29, 2023

Jon Rahm shot a course record 61 as his bid for a fifth win of the year moved up a gear in the third round of the Mexico Open.

The Masters champion went out in 29 to move within two of leader Tony Finau.

Akshay Bhatia, playing in just his sixth PGA Tour event, will join the tournament’s big two names in the final group after equalling the previous Vidanta Vallarta course record of 63 to sit alongside Rahm on 17 under.

Rahm, who hit 17 greens in regulation, had the chance of a rare 59 but missed birdie putts on 15 and 16 before seeing his drive at the 18th plug in a fairway bunker as he had to settle for a par.

He said following his round: “It was a great round. The swings didn’t feel that different today to the first two days. The first two rounds, a couple of the not-so-good swings cost me a little bit too much

“Today, everything just seemed perfect. Made a lot of great swings and the ones that weren’t great, still gave myself a good result.”

The world number one needed just 25 putts as he equalled his career-low round.

“I think that’s the difference usually in a course like this,” he said. “To get to 10 under you’re going to have to make a few lengthy ones, and combined with really good ball-striking, great round. Really happy with what I did and just glad I gave myself a chance.”

Rahm, who is looking to defend a PGA title for the first time, could become the first player with five wins on the tour before May since Johnny Miller in 1974.

Finau, the only other member of the world’s top 20 in the field, birdied five of his last seven holes as he carded a 65 to maintain his lead heading into the final round.

Rahm, who beat him to the title 12 months ago, briefly edged ahead before the American’s strong finish.

Bhatia, 21, leapfrogged into the final group with an eagle on the last having played a practice round with Rahm and Finau earlier in the week.

Brandon Wu, who was second alongside Finau last year, is a shot further back and the only other person within five strokes of the lead.

Ben Taylor edged into the top 10 with a 66, two better than fellow Englishman Harry Hall.

Related items

  • McIlroy set for break after toughest day of career in US Open collapse McIlroy set for break after toughest day of career in US Open collapse

    Rory McIlroy intends to take a break from golf after his US Open collapse as the Northern Irishman bemoaned the toughest day of his career following further major disappointment at Pinehurst.

    The four-time major champion has not triumphed in one of golf's top events since 2014 at the PGA Championship.

    McIlroy came within touching distance of ending that decade-long wait on Sunday but fell short in disappointing circumstances as Bryson DeChambeau claimed the US Open title by a shot in North Carolina.

    The 35-year-old McIlroy managed to bogey three of his final four holes in the last round at Pinehurst's No.2 course, including a woeful miss from a short putting distance on the 18th.

    DeChambeau was left to save par with an impressive up-and-down from the near-side bunker, leaving McIlroy to rue another missed opportunity on the major stage.

    "Yesterday was a tough day, probably the toughest I've had in my nearly 17 years as a professional golfer," McIlroy wrote on social media.

    "Firstly, I'd like to congratulate Bryson. He is a worthy champion and exactly what professional golf needs right now. I think we can all agree on that.

    "As I reflect on my week, I'll rue a few things over the course of the tournament, mostly the two missed putts on 16 and 18 on the final day.

    "But, as I always try to do, I'll look at the positives of the week that far outweigh the negatives. As I said at the start of the tournament, I feel closer to winning my next major championship than I ever have.

    "The one word that I would describe my career as is resilient. I've shown my resilience over and over again in the last 17 years and I will again."

    McIlroy was expected to play in this week's Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

    However, the world number two confirmed he will not feature as McIlroy prepares for a break after suffering a brutal blow to his major hopes.

    "I'm going to take a few weeks away from the game to process everything and build myself back up for my defence of the Genesis Scottish Open and The Open at Royal Troon," he concluded.

    The Scottish Open does not start until July 11, leaving McIlroy with almost a month to recover from this setback.

  • DeChambeau excited for more McIlroy battles following U.S. Open glory DeChambeau excited for more McIlroy battles following U.S. Open glory

    Bryson DeChambeau is looking forward to more final-round battles with Rory McIlroy following his second U.S. Open triumph at Pinehurst on Sunday. 

    DeChambeau headed into the final round in North Carolina with a three-shot lead over the field, but soon found himself two behind the Northern Irishman three holes into the back nine. 

    A birdie at the 13th regained the American's composure, with McIlroy making bogey in three of the last four holes, including an agonising miss on18 to hand DeChambeau the victory. 

    The fifth major title continues to elude McIlroy, last winning at the 2014 PGA Championship, but DeChambeau labelled the world number two as one of the best to play the game and is excited for future tussles on the golf course. 

    "Rory is one of the best to ever play," DeChambeau said. "Being able to fight against a great like that is pretty special. I'd love to have a lot more battles with him.

    "I have nothing but respect for how he plays the game of golf... to be honest, when he was climbing up the leaderboard, I was like, 'Uh-oh', but luckily things went my way today.

    "For him to miss that putt [on the 18th], I'd never wish it on anybody.

    "I'm sure it will fuel Rory's fire even more. He's a strong-minded individual. He'll win multiple more major championships, there's no doubt."

    McIlroy's missed putt at 18 opened the door for DeChambeau to capitalise, but a wayward drive left him hunched under a tree, forcing him to punch out to a greenside bunker to set up a nervy finish. 

    However, the American would produce a moment of magic to place the ball within four feet of the hole, going on to say it was the shot of his life. 

    "That bunker shot was the shot of my life," DeChambeau reflected.

    "I knew where Rory was. After my tee shot, I was up there going, 'Man, if he makes par, I don't know how I'm going to beat him'. I just really didn't know.

    "Then I heard the moans. It was like a shot of adrenaline got in me. I said, 'Okay, you can do this'. I'm so happy I got that shot up-and-down."

  • McIlroy's U.S. Open misses will haunt him for the rest of his life, says Faldo McIlroy's U.S. Open misses will haunt him for the rest of his life, says Faldo

    Rory McIlroy's shocking misses at the U.S. Open could haunt him for the rest of his career, believes six-time major champion Nick Faldo.

    McIlroy looked to be in pole position to end his 10-year major drought on the final day of play at Pinehurst on Sunday, as four birdies in a five-hole stretch gave him a two-shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau.

    However, things unravelled for the Northern Irishman in spectacular fashion, as he missed a putt from less than three yards to save par on the 15th.

    Despite following that up with a bogey on the 16th, McIlroy still shared the lead with DeChambeau as he approached the final hole.

    He then missed another four-foot putt to hand the initiative to DeChambeau, who produced a brilliant bunker shot then made no mistake for his own close-range par, clinching his second major title by a single shot.

    McIlroy left Pinehurst without speaking to the media as DeChambeau celebrated his second U.S. Open crown in the last five editions, and Faldo believes he may never fully get over his misses.

    "That's going to haunt Rory for the rest of his life, those two misses," Faldo said in his role of co-commentator for Sky Sports.

    "It was an unbelievable finish. That was a four of all fours to finish from Bryson and the celebration of all celebrations! 

    "Rory will be broken-hearted, so I feel for him. He's going to be gutted, absolutely gutted."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.