Jon Rahm can grab No. 1 again Sunday: 3 storylines for Genesis Invitational final round

Jon Rahm is looking primed for another win.

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Another week, another tournament with Jon Rahm in contention with a chance to get to World No. 1.

This week’s Genesis Invitational has had no shortage of intrigue, being the second full-field designated event of the season, taking place at a spectacular venue and serving as the return to the PGA Tour for its host, Tiger Woods.

With all that has happened so far this week, it’s hard to believe there’s still another round to be played in Pacific Palisades. Yet, the final round of this year’s 2023 Genesis Invitational is full of intrigue with stars like Rahm, Max Homa, Keith Mitchell and Patrick Cantlay.

Here are three storylines entering the final round:

Jon Rahm has a chance to reclaim World No. 1

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After a third-round, bogey-free 65, Rahm will play in the final group in the final round for the fourth-straight time on the PGA Tour. The event before that streak began was the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he came from behind to win.

The World No. 3 couldn’t get it done from behind last week at the WM Phoenix Open or at the Farmers Insurance Open. He did come away with the win at The American Express in January.

He’ll begin the final round with a three-stroke lead on Max Homa at 15-under. A win would move Rahm to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking so long as current No. 1 and last week’s winner, Scottie Scheffler, does not finish solo second. Scheffler is currently T15 at 5 under.

Rahm can also ascend to the world’s top spot with a solo second, Scheffler finishing outside a solo 23rd and Rory McIlroy (currently T18) not winning.

A win would also be the Spanaird’s third of 2023 and fifth in his last nine worldwide starts, dating back to last fall.

“I can make an argument about any event that I play in about being able to check something off,” Rahm said after the round. “But the fact that Tiger is the host, the fact that he’s out here playing and the history of this golf course as a venue is two reasons why I would love to be able to win here.”

Rahm has benefited from a couple of miraculous breaks this week and his best weapon, the driver, was uncharacteristically wild Saturday, losing nearly a half-stroke on the field. However, a 24-foot birdie putt on 18 seemed to send a message to the rest of the field.

“It’s a difficult hole, birdies are lacking every single year on that hole,” Rahm said. “To be able to make one and extend the lead going into tomorrow, it’s a big bonus.”

Max Homa looking for another California title

The 2021 Genesis winner took down Rahm and others three weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open, but the stakes were much different. Rahm wasn’t in the lead at Torrey Pines and Homa was also a chaser that day.

Homa was the 18 and 36-hole leader this week and was battling with Rahm early in the back nine before bogeys on 15 and 16 allowed Rahm to build a lead. A 69 still left the Southern California native in second alone.

A win for Homa would be his third since September and move Homa past Rahm for the top spot in the FedEx Cup standings. Just one of Homa’s career six wins has come outside the state of California.

“Chasing down the hottest golfer on the planet, it’s an exciting opportunity,” Homa said. “Final group at Riviera, it’s awesome. Today was a really fun day of golf. Yeah, I relish it. It’s exciting. It’s an opportunity, and I think in this life it’s just about opportunities, getting them and then when you have them, take advantage. So I’m excited to test myself with that.”

Can Tiger Woods get a back-door top-10?

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Woods put on a show Saturday, making three birdies and an eagle against just one bogey as he posted a 4-under 67, his lowest round on the PGA Tour in 848 days.

Few, save for maybe Woods himself, expected such solid play out of the 47-year-old in his first start since last July and just fourth since suffering severe injuries to his right leg in a car crash.

“I wanted to get in touch with the leaders today, I was hoping to shoot something a little bit lower than I did just so I could reach out to them hopefully with a low round tomorrow,” Woods said. “I might be a little far away. Hopefully, tomorrow go out and play a good one, post this event, we’ll go ahead and reassess everything and see where we are, see how I recover from a full tournament.”

On Saturday, Woods climbed all the way from making the cut on the number to a tie for 26th at 3-under, and just three shots out of the top 10. It’s near-impossible for Woods to catch Rahm, but everyone at Riviera is impressed with his play thus far this week.

His round was especially impressive given the question of Woods’ stamina and after he faded to a 74 on Friday after opening with a 69.

“I haven’t done this in a while,” Woods said. “The last time I did it was at The Open Championship, so it’s been a while. Hopefully the body will still feel good sometime later next week. As of right now, recovery time will be fun.”