(Reuters) – Jon Rahm is among golfers who have pushed the limits of low scores on the PGA Tour in 2022 and the Spaniard expects more of the same in La Quinta, California where The American Express will be held on desert courses ripe for the taking.
This week’s tournament will utilise three courses: PGA West (Pete Dye Stadium Course), La Quinta Country Club and PGA West (Nicklaus Tournament Course) and Rahm expects golfers will need to crack the 20-under barrier to have a shot at winning.
“If the wind doesn’t pick up, you’re going to have to go out there and post a score. But we all know it, so it’s almost like a green light to be aggressive,” the world number one said on Wednesday.
“One of the reasons why that happens is because after the overseed these greens are in such a good condition that it enables players to make putts and if you combine it with good ball striking you’re going to have some low rounds.”
In his last start, Rahm tied the PGA Tour record for birdies in a 72-hole event with 32 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. During the third round he equalled the course record at Kapalua with a 12-under 61.
Rahm finished on 33-under, a mind-blowing score that would be enough for victory almost any week on the PGA Tour given only three players had ever previously finished at 30-under or lower.
Unfortunately for Rahm, he was out-duelled by Australian Cameron Smith who finished at 34-under nearly two decades after Ernie Els set the PGA Tour 72-hole scoring record with a 31-under performance.
“I never thought ever in my career I would shoot 33-under and not win,” said Rahm. “It was a bit of a bittersweet feeling.”
Rahm won this PGA Tour stop in 2018 and was scheduled to return in 2021 before sitting out after tweaking a muscle.
The U.S. Open champion will play the first three rounds with Tony Finau and two amateurs before the leading 65 professionals move on to the final round at the Stadium Course.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)