What an exciting week for golf.
The PGA Tour’s initiative, starting in 2023, to get the world’s top players competing against each other more often continued to create the desired excitement as the Genesis Invitational, another of the PGA Tour’s designated events, which featured 23 of the 25 top ranked players in the world. In a thrilling finish, Spain’s Jon Rahm claimed the trophy and ascended again to the top of the world rankings, having been on an incredible run the past few months.
The tournament also attracted record TV audiences and live spectators as Tiger Woods returned to competitive action after eight months out with injury.
Leaders in Scoring Average this season:
68.4 – Jon Rahm
69.2 – Rory McIlroy
69.2 – Scottie Scheffler
69.3 – Jason Day
69.3 – Max Homa
69.4 – Tony Finau pic.twitter.com/DF9EPZOThA
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 20, 2023
The crowd was on the edge as Rahm, despite taking a three-shot lead into the final round was pushed all the way by hometown favourite Max Homa, who even briefly took the lead on the back nine. A 45-foot putt for birdie from the fringe on the par-3 14th gave Rahm the lead back and he sealed the win with a spectacular tee shot to two feet on the par-3 , 16th. He won for the fifth time in nine starts and has finished in the top-10 in each of those events. This was also his third win on the PGA Tour this season – the first time in his career he has won more than twice – and it’s still only February. Rahm currently leads the tour in scoring average, top-10s, wins, birdies made and strokes-gained. Naturally he heads the money list with $9.86 million and the FedEx Cup points race.
“I don’t need a ranking to validate anything,” Rahm said after his final round on Sunday. & “I’m having the best season of my life.”
This golf course is a truly special place and I’m so happy I was able to pull out the win. Thanks to everyone for the support and loved having my family here to enjoy the ride. pic.twitter.com/lAUR49sD6A
— Jon Rahm Rodriguez (@JonRahmpga) February 20, 2023
Woods wasn’t in contention, but he provided a few thrills of his own, most notably in Thursday’s first round when he closed with three straight birdies. He also shot a 4- under 67 on Saturday, his lowest round on the tour in years. You can expect to see him play in The Masters again come April.
Meanwhile Bernhard Langer continues to defy Father Time on the Champions Tour The seemingly ageless German equalled Hale Irwin’s record of 45 wins at the Chubb Classic. Langer shot a final round 7-under 65 to win the tournament for a fifth time.
This is deep and will make you think. pic.twitter.com/MGj5iHXt2d
— Chantel McCabe (@chantel_mccabe) February 20, 2023
“It’s extremely special because we’ve been talking about it for so long, it seems now”, Langer said. “When I first came out here, I thought, this is never going to happen.” In winning, Langer broke his own record for the oldest player to win on the senior tour – this time at 65 years, 5 months and 23 days.
Over on the Ladies European Tour (LET), India’s own Aditi Ashok continued her stellar run of form with a second-place finish at the Saudi Aramco Invitational, losing out to World No. 1 Lydia Ko by a shot. Ashok, who led after 36-holes but was two- behind going into the final round, held around against a field that not only featured Ko, but also three others in the top-10, including her playing partner Lexi Thompson.
Lydia Ko is heading to the 18th tee with a one shot lead.#RaiseOurGame | #AramcoSaudiLadiesIntl pic.twitter.com/G4YV6Tem1C
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) February 19, 2023
Ashok ran off three straight birdies on holes 7 through 9 to stay in touch with the leaders. Trailing by two with four holes to go, she birdied 15 and 16 to get into a three-way tie for the lead with Ko and 54-hole leader Lilia Vu. Ko’s birdie on the 17 th would prove to be the slim margin of victory.
“It’s been great,” Ashok, who has won four-times on the LET Tour during her career, said. “I think 20-under-par on this golf course with the wind that we had on some of those days is a pretty good score.”
Ashok has now finished first, third and second in her three events on the LET Tour. It’s safe to say she is playing some of her best golf ever right now. If she can carry this form with her when she makes her season debut on the LPGA Tour, her first win on that tour may not be far away.
Photo – PGA Tour