The Official World Golf Rankings formula may indicate that Rory McIlroy is still the No. 1 player in the world, but there is no doubt who has been the best player on the course in the last four months.
Spaniard John Rahm won again on Sunday at the American Express in La Quinta, California. It was his second win in a row and fourth win in his last six world starts (he tied for second at the BMW PGA Championship in September and fourth at the CJ Cup in South Carolina in October). In fact, Ram has won each of his last three world starts in official competitions – the DP World Tour Championship, the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the American Express.
For some reason, Ram’s latest victory will only move him from fourth to third place in the world rankings. Ram expressed his disappointment that, under the new OWGR formula, his victories at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and DP World Tour Championship in November do not carry as much weight as his others.
Either way, if Ram maintains his blistering pace, he will soon catch up with McIlroy.
“In my mind, I feel like I can get a lot better,” Ram said. “I feel like I should have that mentality. Again, I work very hard to do what I do. I could find mistakes in every round I played. It’s very rare that I could say I played a flawless round.” “
What’s even scarier for Ram’s opponents is that the next PGA Tour stop will be the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where he became the first Spanish player to win the US Open in 2021.
Here’s what happened this weekend in professional golf:
What happened on the PGA Tour
Where: LaQuinta Country Club, LaQuinta, California
Winner: John Ram
Why he won: Rahm, the hottest player on the planet, got everything he wanted from PGA Tour rookie Davis Thompson, who was right at it until his par-3 shot on the 17th inexplicably hit the flagpole and fell out. On par-4 on the 18th, Thompson mistook his approach, which ended up over the green. Rahm took the lead with a birdie on the 16th and combed the pars on the last two holes, finishing 27 short, which was 1 stroke better than Thompson.
The punches didn’t drop like they did in the first three rounds for Ram, but he did enough to get his second win in a row. Ram has a staggering 54 years in eight rounds since the start of 2023. According to research by Sportzshala Stats & Information, it was his third career finish of 27 years or better, the most in PGA Tour history.
“The body feels great,” Ram said. “My swing was very, very good and it shows, right? Even when I say I might not be as comfortable as I would like, I shoot 64 seconds because everything just fires when needed. Oddly enough, I’m glad that today everything went the way it did. I’ve enjoyed a few standout wins, I’ve enjoyed some comebacks, but today was definitely a struggle.”
Rahm tied the late Sev Ballesteros for second among Spanish players in PGA Tour wins with nine; Sergio Garcia has 11. Ram moved up to first place in the FedEx Cup standings for the first time in his career.
What Happened on the LPGA Tour
Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions
Where: Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, Orlando, Florida
Winner: Brooke Henderson
Why she won: The recent equipment change didn’t slow down Henderson, who took her 13th career LPGA victory with a win at Lake Nona. She scored 2-under-70 on Sunday, beating England’s Charlie Hull and Sweden’s Maya Stark with two strikes. Nelli Korda equalized the score on Sunday and took fourth place in the U11 rankings.
The Canadian, who switched to TaylorMade before the start of the season, hit 71% of the fairways and 80% of the greens in mostly four rounds. She was 9 short on par-5. She had 19 birds. Henderson has had 16 consecutive par or better rounds at the TOC and has just three ghosts in her last 108 holes at Lake Nona. More importantly, the back problems that slowed her down at the end of last season weren’t a problem. She may be in store for a very big season.
Let’s start the season with a win! 🏆
Brooke Henderson wins the 2023 Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions! 👏 pic.twitter.com/SvKRSJnjTZ
— LPGA (@LPGA) January 22, 2023
Henderson said she was undecided about which clubs would be in her bag about a week ago. She took off her new irons, but she was very comfortable with the new club.
“Honestly, I think all parts of the game worked very well this week, which doesn’t happen all the time, so it was really nice to take advantage of that and be able to lift this trophy,” Henderson said. “From a T-shirt [on Sunday], maybe the pilot was not as good as the rest of the week, but was still very stable. Hitting the ball I caught a birdie many times, and especially in the first three days I made a lot of putts.
“Yeah, I really can’t complain about anything. I am very happy that I switched to TaylorMade and hopefully the success will continue.”
Close Miss Thompson
Thompson, a former University of Georgia star, will probably be thinking about his bad break at the 17th hole on Sunday for a while. On January 1, 2019, a new USGA rule went into effect that allows players to leave a pin in the cup when putting. Prior to this, hitting the flagstick from the green resulted in a 2-stroke penalty. The rule change was implemented with the hope of speeding up the game.
Thompson said he usually leaves the pin on long strokes.
This is a cruel game.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 22, 2023
“I feel like it helps me with my speed,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, I will probably be playing the “what if” game in my head for a long time. I had great reading. I probably hit him too hard. but we will never know. I’m proud of myself for this week.”
It was a remarkable performance for Thompson, who was just starting his career in Round 20 of the PGA. Thompson has been ranked No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings twice and was the SEC Player of the Year in 2021. His father, Todd, was a former Georgia team captain, executive director of the Southeast Junior Golf Tour, and RSM Tournament Director. Classics in Sea Island, Georgia.
Thompson, 23, won the Korn Ferry Tour once in 2022 and earned his PGA Tour card by finishing 16th on the all-season points list. He earned $872,000 for second place on Sunday.
“I had a great week,” Thompson said. “Competing with the best in the world is my dream and I did it today and proved that I can stick with them. It was very funny. very cool.”
Up and down movement
Players who made moves in the right direction this week
Kirk, another former Georgia player, posted a top nine out of 29 on Sunday to finish 8th under 64 in third place. He was the third solo in his last start at the Sony Open in Hawaii. For the first time since 2014, he has been in the top five in a row.
A late double-god on par 17 cost him some money, but the UNLV rookie continues to churn out top 10 finishes. It was his eighth top-15 finish in his first nine starts that season.
Eric van Royen
The South African player’s 2021–2022 season was derailed by injuries and he then withdrew from the Houston Open in November after running 75 in the first round. On Sunday, he shot from 10 to 62, matching his lowest round on the tour. He was sixth under the age of 23.
Shelton qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs as a rookie in 2019-20 but lost his card the following season when he made just 11 cuts out of 32. A sixth-place draw in the American Express should give him confidence.
Players who made moves in the wrong direction this week
The 2009 US Open missed the cut, but not before Twitter caught fire with, shall we say, an unusual 3-foot ball strike on Thursday.
Lucas’ new back kick (or lack of it)… is unique. pic.twitter.com/v92etmSx14
— Sam Harrop (@sam_golf) January 19, 2023
Cantley had a chance to claim world number one by winning the American Express, but he never competed and was tied for 26th place under the age of 18.
Fowler, whose last PGA Tour victory came almost four years ago, has a new swing. Unfortunately, the results of this weekend were familiar. He finished in 54th place under the age of 13.
Best of the week
In his 33rd career start on the Tour, Dylan Wu maintained parity well, finishing 18th on Saturday to score 11 under-61s, equaling Nicklaus’ tournament field record (also set by Will Zalatoris last year). Wu’s previous low was 8 to 64 at the 2022 Butterfield Bermuda Championships.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 21, 2023
What’s the pain in your back? Xander Schauffele’s albatross on Sunday’s fifth hole in the American Express was the first on the PGA tour since Stefan Jaeger had it during the final round of the 2022 John Deere Classic.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 22, 2023
France’s Victor Perez made this shot from the bunker at No. 17 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday to take the biggest win of his career. He became the first player from France to win a Rolex Series tournament and became a legitimate contender for a place on the European team at the Ryder Cup.
Incredible bunker by Victor Perez filmed today with French commentary 🇫🇷😂
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) January 22, 2023
Jason Day blew that bombshell on his way to carding aged 5 to 67 on Sunday and ranked 18th on the American Express.