Planet Golf — 26 January 2023 by GW staff and news services
Homa’s epic comeback to win Farmers

SAN DIEGO — Southern California native Max Homa came from five shots off the lead to win the Farmers Insurance Open by two strokes over Keegan Bradley on Saturday at Torrey Pines, where Jon Rahm imploded early and missed a shot at winning his third straight start and moving to No. 1 in the world.

Homa reeled in Sam Ryder, who was trying for a wire-to-wire win, and then held off Bradley and Collin Morikawa for his sixth PGA TOUR win and fourth in his home state. He took The Genesis Invitational at Riviera in 2021 and has won the Fortinet Championship in Napa in consecutive years.

Homa closed with a 6-under 66 to finish at 13-under 275. He made a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 18 and pumped his right fist before greeting wife Lacey and infant son Cam just off the green.

Bradley also shot a 66 on the South Course. Morikawa shot 69 and finished at 10 under. Ryder shot 75, his worst round of the week, and tied for fourth with Sahith Theegala (70) and Sungjae Im (70) at 9 under.

Rahm shot a 74, his worst round of the week, and tied for seventh at 8 under with Jason Day (68), a two-time Farmers winner. Rahm got his first PGA TOUR win here in 2017 and then won the U.S. Open in 2021 at the municipal course that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Rahm won The American Express at PGA West last weekend and at the Sentry Tournament of Champions three weekends ago at Kapalua.

Homa, playing in the group ahead of Ryder, Rahm and Tony Finau, took the lead at 12 under by curling in a 16-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th after a 226-yard tee shot. Ryder had a double-bogey 6 on the 15th to drop to 10 under.

Ryder, who eagled his first hole of the tournament, was in a three-way tie for first after the opening round and had sole possession of the lead after the second and third rounds.

After making an impressive run up the leaderboard on Friday to move into sole possession of second place, two shots behind Ryder, Rahm bogeyed No. 1 and missed a birdie putt by inches on No. 4 before his round fell apart on the par-4 No. 5.

Rahm drove into a fairway bunker and then flew the green into the thick rough. It took him three shots to chop his way out of the rough and by the time he sank a nine-foot putt, he had tumbled into a tie for fifth.


LA JOLLA, Calif. – The golf world appears fixated on Jon Rahm’s quest to win a third consecutive PGA TOUR start.

It’s a fair fixation. Rahm has looked borderline unstoppable at times in recent months, compiling four wins in five official starts worldwide, and he has played his last 23 holes at Torrey Pines in 11 under, despite demanding conditions on the Pacific coastline. A win would move him to world No. 1. He has played his way into the final grouping for Saturday’s final round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

It would seem to align for a coronation.

Then there’s Farmers leader Sam Ryder, the 11-year pro whose profile might still fly under the radar amongst most golf fans. Ryder has qualified for the FedExCup Playoffs in five consecutive seasons, compiling 15 top-10 finishes in 146 TOUR starts, and has capably proven himself as a member of the game’s most proficient tier. Just one thing is missing: a PGA TOUR title.

The Stetson alum looks to change that Saturday at Torrey Pines, and fans are set to learn a lot more about him along the way – first thing to convey: no relation to Ryder Cup namesake Samuel Ryder.

Ryder, 33, carries a two-stroke lead over Rahm into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open, standing 12-under total after a third-round, even-par 72 that featured 16 pars. Ryder and Rahm will compete in Saturday’s final grouping alongside Tony Finau, who on Friday carded the week’s low round at Torrey South, 8-under 64, to move from the cut line to solo third.

Rahm and Finau have combined for six PGA TOUR titles in the last nine months. They’ll chase more hardware Saturday amidst one of golf’s more iconic backdrops, the public-access layout that has produced so much history in this game. The penultimate grouping is stout as well, featuring a trio of multi-time TOUR winners in Sungjae Im, Collin Morikawa and Max Homa, each five strokes off Ryder’s pace.

Ryder looks forward to the challenge of fending them off.

“You ultimately want to see how good you can be,” Ryder said in the Friday afternoon twilight. “I love the game and I love to play. Playing against the best players in the world really shows you how good you are. It’s really fun, it’s exciting, so I’m just going to try and enjoy it.”

Ryder has long been impressed by Rahm’s work ethic and competitiveness, which have come more than ever to the forefront in recent weeks. The two played a practice round during the FedExCup Playoffs last summer, and Ryder was appreciative of Rahm’s affability and willing to share insights.

“He was very open about his golf IQ,” Ryder said. “He’s a very intelligent golfer, not to mention his talent, so it was cool to watch him work and kind of see the way he thinks through some of the golf courses and his shots. I mean, he’s a competitor; I’m not expecting him to go out there and be my buddy tomorrow. I think he’s going to go out there and try and win, what, his third straight start this year?

“He’s one of the guys I look to as one of the best in the world, if not the best.”

Rahm has famously built a special relationship with Torrey Pines, which he describes as one of his favorite places in the world. He earned his first TOUR title here at the 2017 Farmers. He won his first major championship here at the 2021 U.S. Open. He even proposed to his wife Kelley on the Torrey Pines cliffs. Returning to world No. 1 with another title at Torrey would be a worthy addition to the memory bank.

“Very few places where I feel like I’m in Spain, and this is one of them,” Rahm said after a third-round 66 at Torrey South. “I get a lot of support, and it’s very nice to see … This is a wonderful golf course, obviously suits my strengths, and I think because I like it so much, I’ve done very well here.”

Ryder has some unique history at Torrey Pines as well. Back in 2016, he held conditional Korn Ferry Tour status after finishing No. 4 on the prior year’s PGA TOUR Canada season-long standings. His first start in his category was set for the Brasil Champions in early April.

The weekend prior to his trip to Brazil, Ryder flew to Torrey Pines. He was a groomsman for a childhood friend who went to law school in San Diego and fell in love in southern California.

The day before the wedding, they played Torrey Pines. Ryder fell in love with the course and has always enjoyed coming back.

After the wedding, Ryder flew to Brazil and finished T22. The points earned him a spot in the subsequent reshuffle, and he played a mostly full Korn Ferry Tour calendar from there. He kept his card, earned his TOUR card the next year and has established himself as a seasoned TOUR pro.

Regarding that certain void in his professional resume, he aims to fill it Saturday – and add to Torrey history along the way.

“I want this to be a regular thing,” Ryder said of contending on TOUR. “Regardless of what happens tomorrow, I just want to give myself more opportunities. I’ve won at every level from college to PGA TOUR Canada to the (Korn Ferry) Tour, and this is next on the list.

“Whether it’s tomorrow or whether it’s down the road, I believe that’s going to happen at some point. Just trying to enjoy the journey and the ride and all those things, too, as much as possible.”

That’s not hard to do at Torrey Pines.


SAN DIEGO — Sam Ryder extended his lead to three shots in the Farmers Insurance Open with a 4-under 68 in challenging wind in the second round Thursday on Torrey Pines’ South Course while Jon Rahm had an eagle and three straight birdies late in his 5-under 67 on the easier North Course to get under the cut line.

Ryder survived both the Santa Ana wind and the tougher South Course with just one bogey to reach 12-under 132 and take a three-stroke lead over Brendan Steele, who shot a 70 on the South Course. Tano Goya was two more shots back after a 67 on the North Course.

The Santa Ana wind blowing out of the desert and down the mountains raked the course most of the day, with gusts up to 30 mph. It sent leaves, branches and even a tumbleweed onto greens, and cardboard trash cans tumbling down hillsides.

“Yesterday was very easy, today was very hard,” said Rahm, who took his first TOUR win here in 2017 and then won the 2021 U.S. Open on the blufftop municipal course overlooking the Pacific Ocean. “It’s never easy out here on either one of the courses, especially the South, and when you get poa annua bumpy greens with this wind, it can be a bit of a nightmare, so glad I made a few.”

Rahm, ranked No. 3 in the world and looking to win for the third time three starts this year, rebounded from an opening 73 on the South Course by getting hot on his back nine. He eagled the par-5 fifth and then had three straight birdies. He had another eagle chance on the par-4 seventh but his long putt caught the left edge and skidded about a foot away.

After his frustrating opening round, “anything in the 60s would have been amazing,” Rahm said. “What I shot today, man, I’m going to be skipping out of the golf course today because it’s a great round of golf.”

Rahm, who won The American Express last weekend, started on the back nine and opened with consecutive birdies but bogeyed his third and ninth holes. He was even going into the par-5 fifth, when he started his run with an eagle.

“Holes five through nine, with or without wind is where you can take advantage of the course,” the Spanish star said. “Luckily, I’ve been hitting it really good. There’s no difference between those holes or any other five, four holes you can pick throughout the round, it’s just kind of guessed with the wind right in all of them. I think maybe I was a little more aggressive after that second shot on 6 and got in the mentality of making birdies instead of being a little tentative, which is easy to do when it’s blowing as hard as it was blowing today.”

Rahm, who went from tied for 116th on Wednesday to tied for 14th, said the cut line never came to mind.

“I was playing with the mindset of catching up to the leaders as much as possible, that’s it.”

Ryder, a 33-year-old who has never won on the PGA TOUR, opened some distance after sharing the first-round lead with Aaron Rai and Brent Grant. Grant was in a group of six at 6 under.

“Yeah, it feels great. The thing I’ve been kind of telling myself is to just try and embrace it,” Ryder said. “It’s not a position that I’ve been in a lot, you know, so just trying to enjoy it. It’s kind of why we play, so just trying to look around and enjoy the moment.

“And I’m just doing everything pretty solid. It starts off the tee for me, I’m driving it well. My iron play is really good, so I feel like if I put it in the fairway, I can attack. And I don’t think I really missed many shots today. I missed a couple fairways, but the irons have been really good.”

Will Zalatoris, ranked No. 7 in the world, missed the cut after shooting 5-over 77 on the South Course.

The final two rounds will be on the South Course.


SAN DIEGO — Jon Rahm struggled to a 1-over 73 at Torrey Pines South, which has become one of his favorite courses, while Sam Ryder, Aaron Rai and Brent Grant all shot 8-under 64 on the more forgiving North Course on Wednesday to tie for the first-round lead at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rahm, ranked No. 3 in the world and trying for his third win in as many starts, made a double bogey on the par-4 seventh hole and was continually left frustrated on the South Course. He earned his first PGA TOUR victory in 2017 at the municipal courses on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean and then won the U.S. Open on the South Course in 2021.

Rahm, who is trying for his 10th career TOUR win, was tied for 116th with 11 others, including playing partners Tony Finau and Justin Rose.

“Not good,” the Spanish star said as he signed autographs in the fading sunshine. Rahm won The American Express at PGA West in the Coachella Valley last weekend and the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua two weeks earlier.

Ryder, Rai and Grant have never won on TOUR. Ryder is coming off three straight missed cuts. Grant’s last four rounds have been 74 or worse. They took a one-shot lead over Brendan Steele, who was at 7-under 65, with seven players bunched another shot back at 6-under 66. Defending champion Luke List and Collin Morikawa, ranked No. 8 in the world, were in a group of seven at 5-under 67.

The top six finishers and 13 of the top 18 played the North Course. Players will switch courses on Thursday, with stronger wind in the forecast, and play the final two rounds on the South Course.

PGA TOUR rookie Sam Stevens and Andrew Novak had the best rounds on the South Course. Both were in the group at 66.

Rahm was 2 under through six holes before he sent his second shot on No. 7 over the green into a brushy native area. After taking a penalty and a drop in the right rough, he chipped onto the green and two-putted.

Rahm then bogeyed Nos. 12 and 15 before birdieing the par-3 16th.

“No. 7 was arguably the best swing of the day that cost me two shots,” Rahm said. “I’ve hit that shot over 25 times in the past with the same wind and I’ve never seen a ball get pin high and today we don’t know what happened. Somehow it ended up flying the pin by 10 yards and in the hazard. If it just flies the green and stays in the rough it’s OK. But that was costly.

“The main thing on the round today, with the tee shots I hit on 6, 7, 12 and 13, I was 3-over par,” Rahm added. “In any other given round I’ve played here in the past I’m actually playing that at least even par to under par, so it’s easily a three- to five-shot swing and that’s the difference.”

Ryder, a 33-year-old still looking for his first TOUR victory, opened his round with an eagle on the par-5 10th.

“No. 10 is one of the easier holes on the course, short par 5, beautiful hole going down toward the ocean,” he said. “You’re really thinking kind of it’s nice to hit it in the fairway, hit it on the green. You’re thinking OK, maybe I can make a 4. I wasn’t really thinking attack, attack, but there wasn’t much to the putt. It was actually fairly straight and it was one of those when it was halfway there, it looked pretty good and it just kind of fell in perfect. It’s almost like a little bit of a bonus, but it’s really nice to start the round with a birdie or eagle.”

With the Wednesday start, no one had a quicker turnaround than Scott Brown. He was competing on the Korn Ferry Tour in the Bahamas, a tournament that started Sunday and concluded Wednesday. After making the cut on Monday, Brown realized he was first alternate for Torrey Pines when John Huh withdrew. Brown withdrew from the Bahamas, flew to San Diego on Tuesday and was in the first group out Wednesday morning. He shot a 3-under 69 on the North Course.

Related Articles


About Author

(0) Readers Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.