What a difference the week made for the first round leader on the PGA Tour. Rather than avoid the same fate as Jordan Spieth at the Sony Open, Davis Thompson continued to advance at the 2023 American Express. Taking the solo lead with a 10-under 62 on Thursday, PGA Tour rookie Nicklaus was on top again on the tournament course on Friday. Stumbling occasionally out of the gates to start his round, Thompson rode a flurry of eagles to eventually sign off for an 8-under 64.
Tying the PGA Tour 36-hole record with five eagles, Thompson stands at 18 under but is not without heavy hitters on his tail. Jon Rahm, the 2023 Tournament of Champions winner and arguably the hottest player in the world, will enter the weekend as Thompson’s closest follower at 16 under after back-to-back rounds of 8-under 64.
Rahm, the winner of this tournament in 2018, has positioned himself well to win his second PGA Tour event of the year and his fourth worldwide victory in his last six events. On the same course rotation as the leader, Rahm, along with other contenders Tom Kim, Xander Schoeffel and Patrick Cantlay, will play the Stadium Course at PGA West on Saturday.
1. Davis Thompson (-18)
Despite being in the middle of her rookie season, Thompson has been around for quite some time, first coming under the radar at the 2020 US Open. Now a winner on the Korn Ferry Tour and in command of this tournament, Thompson’s record-tying five eagles will be difficult to maintain and could allow the rest of the field to gain some ground over the next 36 holes. For some context, 2022 Honda Classic winners and Tour Championship participants Sep Straka Recorded three eagles during his entire 2021-22 season.
“Watching this tournament for two years, I always see the winning score so low. So you really don’t have a choice, you just have to hit the greens and make yourself look good and try to make putts.” ” Thompson said. “I was lucky to make a lot of putts these first two days. But, yes, it is easy to stop, but at the same time, if you just stay in the present mind and focus on one thing.”
2. Jon Rahm (-16)
T3. Jason Dae, Tom Kim, JT Poston, Sungjae Im, Tyler Duncan (-13)
8. Payton Kijire (-12)
T9. Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Justin Rose, Scott Pierce, Taylor Montgomery (-11)
Rahm said at the Tournament of Champions that he believes he is the best player in the world, and it’s hard to argue against that after just six rounds in 2023. In his first two days without Shotlink data, it is unknown how well he is rolling off the cliff. However, it might be safe to assume that it’s more or less the same as her last five months. Since the BMW Championship, Rahm has averaged about 1.5 strokes per round of putting, giving him three worldwide victories. With a lower score in the forecast, a hot putter could push him into his fourth spot from October.
“At this point, where we are on the PGA Tour, with so many great players running, you need to show up on the weekend and shoot less,” Rahm said. “If anything is proof of that, it’s the fact that two weeks ago I shot 16-under over the weekend and ended up winning the tournament. So you have to keep your foot on the gas and keep making birdies.”
resurrection of giants
Rahm is not the only former world No. 1 to occupy the front page of the leaderboard; A pair of veterans have played themselves into the mix in Jason Day and Justin Rose. Day arrives in 2023 after he enjoyed a strong swing season in the Las Vegas desert that included a T8 finish, and is looking forward to some of his best – and healthiest – golf.
“I mean, I would say my body — well, I was still in pain in those years, I sacrificed myself to get to No. 1,” Day said. “I feel like — I’m hoping that I’m doing the right things to not only get back out there, but get back out there healthy and hopefully last a lot longer than what I did. “
Rose is in a similar boat after notching a top-10 result at the Houston Open and needs a big year to join the European Ryder Cup team come September. Now aged 42, this could be his last chance to participate in his playing capacity, something that is not lost on the former US Open champion.
Rollercoaster Two Holes For SH Kim
SH Kim, meet Pete Dye. The PGA Tour rookie got a taste of Mr. Dye’s fine work in his second round on the Stadium Course. Playing his third at the par-5 16th, Kim’s approach ricocheted off the flagstick, only to find the greenside bunker, 19 feet below the putting surface.
Ultimately resulting in a triple bogey, Kim went down the island green on the 17th without luck on his side. That quickly changed when his tee shot bounced off the greenside rock outline and onto the green. In the span of a few minutes, Kim experiences both the good and the bad of Dye’s creation.
2023 American Express updated odds and picks
- Jon Rahm: 23/20
- Davis Thompson: 4-1
- Sungjae Im: 11-1
- Tom Kim: 12-1
- Jason Day: 18-1
- Scotty Scheffler: 18-1
- JT Poston: 22-1
- Xander Schoeffel: 35-1
For a moment, let’s assume that the lead lives with Rahm at age 16 because Thompson is unproven in this area. If true, Day at age 13 is an interesting choice as he heads to the Nicklaus Tournament Course – the easiest of the three golf courses on the first two days – after passing an eye test on Friday.
If not for a swing in the first round when he blocked a tee shot out of bounds, Day would have been right up there with Rahm. In the second round, the Australian led the stroke-gained tee to green and strokes-gained approach on the Stadium Course, while finishing tied for seventh in strokes-gained putts.