3 storylines heading into The American Express final round

Jon Rahm of Spain hits a shot during the third round of The American Express at PGA West Pete Dye Stadium Course on January 21, 2023 in La Quinta, California.

Jon Rahm is in the midst of a worldwide heater.

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After three rounds in La Quinta, it’s almost become a two horse race.

Jon Rahm and Davis Thompson will begin the final round tied at 23 under and four shots clear of the rest of the field.

The three courses used for the first three rounds of this pro-am event have been torn apart this week as the 10 under 54-hole cut was the lowest at the event since 2013.

Both Rahm and Thompson have plenty to play for Sunday, but each for different reasons.

Here are three storylines we’re watching heading into the fourth and final round:

Jon Rahm can’t get to World No. 1 this week, but someone behind him can
By: Jack Hirsh

Jon Rahm’s run of dominance

Through 12 holes, Rahm appeared to be running away with the tournament. He started the day two behind Thompson, but six birdies and an eagle had him up by three and on 59 watch. A couple of putts that just wouldn’t fail on the final six holes and a three-putt on 17 cooled him to a 65 at the PGA West Stadium Course to follow his opening pair of 64s.

Despite the less than stellar finish, he still enters the final round with a great chance for his second-straight win and his second win at The American Express.

“So [I’m] very confident going into tomorrow and knowing that I’m going to have to shoot another low score if I want to have a chance to win,” Rahm said after the round. “if we get this weather again I’m going to have to shoot most likely 66 or lower to have a good chance to win. But that’s the challenge. It is what it is. The level of talent of this TOUR is only increasing. It’s showing with this, with the scores we’re shooting in those tournaments that for a long time we’ve shot low scores at but not this low.””

Over his past nine worldwide starts, Rahm has eight top-10s and three wins. While he can’t move to World No. 1 this week (More on that below), he still can move up from No. 4 to No. 3 in the OWGR with a win.

Davis Thompson seeks first win

Thompson began Saturday with a two shot lead after a record setting opening two rounds.

The rookie made five eagles through the opening two rounds, tying the PGA Tour record for most eagles in a 72-hole event.

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He cooled slightly on Saturday, but pulled even with Rahm midway through his back nine. The rookie, who earned his status through the Korn Ferry Tour last season, made six birdies and one bogey in his 67.

The two-year exemption for PGA Tour winners has to be top of mind for the 23-year-old. A win would also qualify him for his first Masters in April. Not to mention, he still has several opportunities to set the eagles record.

Race for World No. 1

World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler and No. 5 Patrick Cantlay both entered the week with chances to become the No. 1 player in the world.

Scheffler’s math was simple: Finish inside solo eighth or better and move back to World No. 1. Through 53 holes Scheffler was the only player in the field bogey-free, until he hooked his approach at the 18th hole into the water.

He still managed to scramble for his first bogey of the week and will start Sunday at 17 under. The bogey moved him just outside the coveted top 8 spot he needs.

Meanwhile, Cantlay had a tough time getting anything going Saturday, starting with 15 pars before finally making a birdie on the par-5 16th. He followed that up by hitting it in the water on the the 17th. He ended up making the cut by one. The only scenarios for him to move to World No. 1 require him to win, according to OWGR guru Nosferatu.

Thanks to changes to Official World Golf Ranking from August still needing time to mature, Rahm, despite being fourth in the OWGR, can only move as high as third with a win.

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