Jon Rahm holds off Max Homa to win Genesis Invitational, rises to World No. 1

Jon Rahm of Spain celebrates on the 18th green with his caddie, Adam Hayes, after winning The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club on February 19, 2023 in Pacific Palisades, California.

Jon Rahm shot a final-round 69 to win his third event on the PGA Tour in 2023.

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Jon Rahm might finally agree with his world ranking now.

Rahm made a curling, 46-foot putt from off the green on the 14th to grab the lead back from Max Homa. A tee shot two holes later on 16 to inside three feet proved to be the dagger for Rahm, who fired a 69 Sunday to win the Genesis Invitational by two over Homa at 17 under.

The win is Rahm’s third of 2023, the first player to win three times this early in the year since Johnny Miller in 1975. It also moves Rahm back to World No. 1 for the first time since last March and continues an incredible run of five wins in his last nine starts.

“I guess I just keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Rahm said after the win. “You know, I’ve been obviously doing a lot of the things I needed to do properly every single day and that’s the important thing, right? Just keeping that daily process as good as I have been. Obviously, I’ve been extremely disciplined my whole career, but right now I’m seeing the dividends of a lot of the hard work over the years.”

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The Spaniard had been critical for months of changes to the Official World Golf Ranking which went into effect just before his run started.

“Had they not changed the world ranking points I would have been pretty damn close [to world No. 1] right now,” Rahm told Sky Sports after his win in the first week of the year in Maui. “But in my mind, I feel like since August I’ve been the best player in the world.”

Now Rahm, who hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in a regular stroke-play event since July and started the week at No. 3, ends the brief rein of World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who finished T12 this week. Scheffler himself reclaimed the world’s top spot from Rory McIlroy last week with his win at the WM Phoenix Open.

This win is Rahm’s 10th PGA Tour title, passing his idol and fellow countryman, Seve Ballesteros’s total of nine.

Homa, meanwhile, records his first-ever runner-up finish on the PGA Tour after beginning the day three strokes back. The Southern California native, who won the Farmers Insurance Open three weeks ago and has developed a reputation as a closer, has 12 career top-5 finishes, half being wins.

He looked to be adding to that legacy earlier in the final round when he pulled even with Rahm thanks to a birdie-birdie run on 9 and 10. Rahm contributed to the two-shot swing on Riviera’s famous par-4 10th by playing his third over the green and making a bogey.

Homa then took the lead alone when Rahm three-putted 12.

“If you tell me on the ninth tee after that tee shot that I was going to be one back on 13 tee, I wouldn’t believe you because I was feeling that good,” Rahm said. “But it’s golf and this golf course especially, this golf course can get you.”

The lead didn’t last long for Homa.

Both players pulled their tee shots well left on 13, but Homa’s hit a tree and left him more than 260 yards to the green. He smothered his second into the brush area further left and did well to make a bogey from there.

Rahm had a clear angle for his second and made par.

“That putt on 14 was huge, a great par putt on 15 and that shot on 16 obviously,” Rahm said. “I could pick either one of those moments, but if I had to choose one, it would be the 6-iron I hit from the left side on 13. Putting the ball on the green was important and two-putting that as well.”

The birdies on the par-3s gave Rahm his eventual two-shot edge, which he nearly needed all of after Homa’s last-gasp chip on 18 nearly found the bottom of the cup in a near repeat of his win at the Fortinet Championship in September.

“I’m very proud. I did not have it off the tee today, but man, I fought. I really just wanted to push [Rahm],” Homa said before fighting back a little emotion. “He is a spectacular golfer. I would say other than Tiger and I don’t even know, he’s the most consistent player I’ve seen.

“I’m not disappointed in my golf, I’m just disappointed in the ending.”

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