SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm has those familiar feelings again at Torrey Pines – and that’s troubling news for the rest of the contenders.
Tied for the halfway lead, Rahm came back to the field a bit Saturday with an even-par 72 that dropped him into a tie for third, one shot back, at the Farmers Insurance Open. In his previous 10 rounds this calendar year, he was a combined 60 under par.
On another sun-splashed and windless day at Torrey Pines, Rahm didn’t necessarily play poorly – he hit 10 fairways and 14 greens – but he made a mess around the 10th green and took a double bogey. He carded only a single birdie coming home on poa annua greens that got even bumpier in the late-afternoon sun.
“I played great, I think,” he said afterward. “I feel like I played a lot better than the score shows.”
And that’s what prompted his flashbacks to the U.S. Open last summer, when he shot 72 in the third round to fall three back but still felt supremely confident about his game and his chances. The next day, he roared back with a 67 to capture his first major. Rahm also came from behind to win here in 2017, when he shot 65 on the final day and erased a three-shot deficit.
“I feel a little bit like I did at the U.S. Open, right?” he said. “The U.S. Open third round wasn’t my best. I finished 1 over par, and I was happy because it was a U.S. Open, but I know it could have been better. I played good golf and I was feeling good, but I still knew that if things start clicking, that Sunday’s round is going to be good, and I feel the same way (now). Every part of my game feels good – it just hasn’t shown or manifested on the golf course.”
The other marquee name in the final group made a few uncharacteristic mistakes, too.
Justin Thomas held the lead by himself when he couldn’t get up-and-down for par from short of the 15th green. Then he hooked his tee shot into the penalty area on the 17th and dropped another shot.
Thomas signed for a 73 and lost ground on a day when the field scoring average was more than a half-shot under par (71.29). He’ll begin the final round two shots back, in a tie for fifth. With a victory, he’d become the first player since Tiger Woods in 1999 to earn a 15th PGA Tour title before the age of 29.