PGA Tour World No. 4 ranked golfer, Jon Rahm, knocks down an iron shot to the 18th green of the La Quinta Course during first round action in the American Express tournament Thursday, Feb. 19. Valley News/Andrez Imaging

LA QUINTA (CNS) – Pre-tournament favorite Jon Rahm shot a 4-under-par
68 at PGA West’s Stadium Course today to win The American Express PGA
tournament by one stroke over rookie Davis Thompson, his second consecutive

Rahm and Thompson were tied for the lead entering the round and also
tied through 15 holes. Rahm took the lead for good on the 16th hole when he
sank an 8-foot, 8-inch putt for a birdie, while Thompson parred the 600-yard
par-5 hole after putting his drive into the left fairway bunker.

Thompson missed a chance to regain a share of the lead on the par-3
17th hole when his 50-foot-putt for a birdie hit the flagstick and rolled
passed the hole.

“I usually always leave the stick in from a long distance. I feel
like it helps me with my speed,” said Thompson, who shot a 3-under-par 69 with
four birdies and a bogey on the par-3 sixth hole. He parred each of the final
seven holes. “I’ll probably play the ‘what if’ game in my head for a long
time, unfortunately.”

“I had a great read. I probably hit it too firm. If it had great
speed it would have just hit the flag and dropped. But we’ll never know.”

Thompson put his second shot on the par-4 18th hole over the green.
His pitch from 37 feet, 3 inches for a birdie stopped 21 inches to the right
and past the hole. Rahm two-putted for a par and the victory.

“Got a little lucky that Davis’ putt didn’t go in on 17 and little
fortunate that his ball just got over the green on 18,” Rahm told Golf Channel
after completing the tournament at 27-under-par 261.

Rahm birdied each of first two holes, along with the ninth and 11th,
and bogeyed the par-3 13th.

“I think today was about as comfortable as I’ve been in a long time
on the golf course tee to green,” Rahm said. “I felt really in command of my
swing. The only two mistakes were the tee shot on 1 and the tee shot on 13.

“The one on 13 was barely a miss so I felt in command of my game.
Made a lot of good swings out there. Always gave myself a lot of chances.”

Rahm earned $1.44 million for winning the $8 million tournament. The
victory was Rahm’s ninth of his PGA Tour career and second in two starts. He
also won the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which concluded Jan. 8 in Kapalua,

Rahm is the first player with multiple victories during the 2022-23
PGA Tour season. The American Express was the season’s 12th event.

Rahm became the 10th player to win what is now known as The American
Express at least twice. He also won in 2018 when it was known as the
CareerBuilder Challenge. Arnold Palmer is the only player to win more than
twice, winning five times, including the inaugural 1960 edition when it was
known as the Palm Springs Desert Golf Classic.

Davis Thompson hits from the 15th tee during the American Express golf tournament on the La Quinta Country Club Course Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, in La Quinta, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Thompson earned $872,000 for finishing second, nearly matching his
previous earnings of $888,303 in 19 PGA Tour events and 22 on the developmental
Korn Ferry Tour.

Thompson’s previous best finish on the PGA Tour was tying for ninth in
the season-opening Fortinet Championship in September.

“I had a great week,” the former University of Georgia star.

“Competing against the best in the world is my dream and I did that today and
proved that I can hang with ’em. It was a lot of fun. A lot of nerves and I hit
a lot of quality golf shots under pressure, which was really cool.”

Rahm moved one spot up to third in the Official World Golf Ranking.

The Spaniard has been ranked first four times for a total of 43 weeks, mostly
recently from July 18, 2021-March 26, 2022.

American Scottie Scheffler missed a birdie putt from 21 feet, 6 inches
on the 18th hole that would have elevated him back to first in the ranking.
He was ranked first from March 27-Oct. 22, 2022, before being passed by Rory
McIlroy, who remains first.

Scheffler finished in a five-way tie for 11th at 22-under, five
strokes off the lead. He would have finished in a six-way tie for sixth had he
made the putt.

Americans Xander Schauffele and Chris Kirk tied for third at 25-under,
two strokes off the lead.

Schauffele entered Sunday’s play among five golfers tied for 16th at
15-under, eight strokes off the lead, then shot a 10-under-62, matching South
African Erik van Rooyen for the day’s low score. Schauffele made his first
career albatross — going 3-under-par on a hole — when he sank his second shot
on the par-5 fifth hole with a 4-iron from 226 yards.

It was the first albatross on the Stadium Course and first on the PGA
Tour since Stephen Jaeger in the fourth round of the John Deere Classic in

Kirk recorded his first back-to-back finishes inside the top five
since 2014. He tied for third in last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii.

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