It was an eventful week in the world of golf all over the globe. In La Quinta, California, Jon Rahm captured his second PGA Tour victory and his fourth victory worldwide. On the opposite side of the world, Rory McIlroy posted two rounds of bogey-free golf to begin his return to competition and almost won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Starting in La Quinta, Rahm began his tournament with a bogey-free 62 with eight birdies and an eagle. He backed it up with rounds of 67 and 70 on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, Rahm was steady as a rock posting a five-under 67 without a blemish on the card.
Rahm’s 67 was not enough to seal the deal in regulation. Andrew Landry birdied 18 from the right rough to force a playoff. What followed was a four-hole, sudden death playoff where both players were in good position off all four tees and had four birdie putts. The difference was Rahm’s birdie putt on the fourth hole that Landry couldn’t match. Landry, the then 184th ranked golfer in the world who is still looking for that maiden victory on tour, went toe-to-toe with the second-ranked golf in the world and had multiple chances to beat him.
In the end, the big-hitting Spaniard got the best of Landry to take home his second PGA Tour title. His first so happens to be the Farmers Insurance Open, where the tour happens to be heading into next week.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
While the CareerBuilder was the PGA Tour event this week, Abu Dhabi was the place to be to see the best players in the world. McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, and Tommy Fleetwood highlighted a stacked field in the desert. Ultimately, Tommy Fleetwood stole the show late Sunday posting a 6-under 30 to come from five shots down at the turn to win by two. Simply incredible. Fleetwood won the Race to Dubai finishing third in scoring average on the European Tour and first in greens in regulation at 77 percent.
However, the story for the majority of the week was McIlroy. McIlroy had not competed in a competitive golf tournament since October, so a rocky start might have been expected. Wrong. McIlroy began the tournament with 50 holes of bogey-free golf and improved from Thursday to Saturday shooting 69, 66, 65. Unfortunately for McIlroy, he didn’t have the Sunday he needed to return with a win, but he posted four rounds under par en route to an 18-under T-3 finish.
Takeaways from a busy week in golf
1. John Rahm has put together one of the fastest ascends golf has ever seen. At this time last year, Rahm was 137th in the world. Rahm now has four worldwide wins in only 38 starts as a professional. For context, it took Tiger Woods 17 starts and it took Jordan Spieth 63. Rahm is now second in the Official World Golf Rankings and is officially a force to be reckoned with on the golf course all over the world. After Sunday’s win, he now sits at second in the FedEx Cup rankings.
2. It’s almost time to get really excited about this years PGA Tour season. Rahm won this week. McIlroy seems to be back to his old self. Dustin Johnson ran away with the Sentry Tournament of Champions and it wasn’t even close. Justin Rose is playing some of the best golf of his career. And of course, Justin Thomas has already won again this season and Jordan Spieth is always in the mix. All of this alone would set the stage for a great PGA Tour season. But now we have a healthy Tiger Woods to throw in the mix starting this weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open. The best golfers in the world seem to be at the top of their games. The stage is set for an incredible 2018 on the PGA Tour.
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