PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA | Just a few miles from where moviemakers bring superheroes to life, Jon Rahm continued writing his own spectacular story Sunday with his two-stroke victory over Max Homa in the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational.
There are hot streaks and then there is whatever Rahm has been doing since the leaves began to change colors last fall.
Rahm has been the definition of dominant.
His victory Sunday at Riviera Country Club was his fifth in his last eight official worldwide starts and, including the unofficial Hero World Challenge in December, Rahm has finished outside the top eight just once in 13 events – a T16 in the Tour Championship, where he started from behind in the staggered scoring system.
Collectively, it was enough to make official what had been apparent for a while: Rahm regained the No. 1 world ranking.
“He’s a tremendous golfer,” said Homa, a native Southern Californian who got teary-eyed after nearly winning his favorite event for the second time. “He has zero weaknesses. He’s been this dude for a long time. I think he’s got the highest win percentage in the last X amount of years. He’s got the highest top-10s by a mile. The guy’s incredible.”
For Rahm, it was a victory that resonated in part because he could accept the trophy from tournament host Tiger Woods at Riviera.
“I’m aware of the magnitude of this moment and this golf course,” Rahm said. “I’ve never had three tour wins (in a season), and to do it this early is incredible, and to do it at this golf course and in an event hosted by Tiger Woods, it’s a pretty big deal.”
It’s too soon to draw comparisons to what Woods did in his remarkable career, as Rahm himself pointed out.
“If someone ever sits down and starts seeing the stats that man has accomplished, you would be amazed at all the things that man has done,” Rahm said.
“I’m very thankful for doing this the first time. How many times had he done it at (age) 28? He won three in a row 14 times, I think. I’ve been able to match a very small aspect of it.”
The Genesis Invitational delivered on what the tour’s designated events were designed to create. The hottest player in the game won, and four players among the top 10 in the latest world rankings finished among the top six on a treasured golf course.
"I’m having the best season of my life, and hopefully I can keep it going.”
Three designated events into the tour’s new model, Rahm has won two of the titles while Scottie Scheffler, whom Rahm supplanted on No. 1 Sunday, picked up the other.
Rahm’s 10th PGA Tour victory was a grind. Though he started the final round with a three-stroke lead over Homa, Rahm found himself trailing by a stroke as he stood on the 13th tee Sunday.
Homa pulled even at the dangerous short par-4 10th where he made a birdie and Rahm had to scramble to save a bogey. A sloppy bogey at the 12th dropped Rahm one behind, but it didn’t last long.
A pair of deuces – at the par-3 14th and 16th holes – flipped the advantage back to Rahm, who closed out a 2-under 69 and 17-under 267 total.
How good did Rahm hit it at Riviera?
His plus-11.9 strokes gained on approach didn’t just dominate the field, it was the best of Rahm’s career. Rahm didn’t need the world ranking to tell him where he stands.
“I’ve won five of my last nine starts (including a T8 in the unofficial Hero World Challenge),” he said. “I don’t need a record to validate anything. I’m having the best season of my life, and hopefully I can keep it going.”
Ron Green Jr.