Jon Rahm in prime spot for another Farmers Insurance Open win

LA JOLLA, Calif. — The devilishly fickle nature of golf has been on full display the past few days at Torrey Pines.

In no case is that truer than for Jon Rahm, who takes a one-shot lead into Sunday’s final round of the Farmers Insurance Open, attempting to duplicate his 2017 victory in the tournament.

Rahm, who has a special affinity for Torrey Pines because he proposed to his now-wife while hiking the trails around the area, started off hot Thursday (shooting a 4-under 68), then had a roller-coaster round on Friday (71) that left him aggravated for most of the day, muttering to himself and slamming his club into the ground.

Then came Saturday, when Rahm shot a 7-under 65 to seize the lead in a round that began with a chip-in for birdie on No. 1 and a hole-out for eagle on No. 2.

“It’s hard to know where to begin,” Rahm said when asked to describe his day. “I mean, the chip-in on one and hole-out on two, 3-under through two holes, no putts. A pretty good start, pretty good way to get things going, but I was still focused on hunting Ryan [Palmer, the 36-hole leader] and hunting the lead.”

Palmer, who followed his 10-under 62 Friday with a 71 Saturday, was paired with Rahm in the Zurich Classic, a team event they won together in April.

“The key for me was just to survive [Saturday], and I accomplished it,” Palmer said.

Rahm and Palmer will be in a final-round group with Rory McIlroy, who’s 9-under, along with Cameron Champ, Harry Higgs and Sung Kang. Should McIlroy win, it would elevate him to No. 1 in the world.

That Rahm is leading after his agitating Friday round is somewhat remarkable.

“Oh, I was all over the place,” Rahm said. “I couldn’t hit a fairway, that’s what happened. I missed the fairway on one, on three, on five, on nine. Then I missed basically every single fairway on the back nine except 13. It was a miracle I shot under par [Friday]. That’s why I was frustrated.

“I sliced it on 14 to the right, sliced it on 15 again. [Saturday] might be the first time in years that I hit that fairway on 15. I can’t remember the last time I hit it. That was the frustration. I missed it right on 17, right on 18 again. I wasn’t feeling really confident with the driver.

“Luckily, missing right is not a bad thing here at Torrey Pines South. You’re still going to be in play. I was able to make pars and actually hit some greens from those spots. That was the only frustration off the tee. Afterward, I just kept going and tried to do the best I could.”

His best has him in the lead. He began the day as the chaser. Sunday he’ll be the one being chased.

Among those in pursuit are McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who’s five shots back at 7-under. Among those at 8-under are Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Brandt Snedeker and Marc Leishman.

Rahm undoubtedly will try to summon what worked for him in 2017, when he came from three shots back entering the final round to win.

“The only thing [that memory] is going to do is keep me focused, no matter how good I’m playing, knowing that somebody can come and do the same thing,” Rahm said. “Hopefully, I don’t need to shoot 6-under. Hopefully, I do shoot 6-under honestly and I don’t have to stress down the stretch.”

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