Jon Rahm survives playoff with Andrew Landry to win CareerBuilder Challenge
After a series of missed late opportunities that seemed like it might never end, and as darkness approached in the California desert Sunday, Jon Rahm finally managed to sink a putt to win the CareerBuilder Challenge in a four-hole playoff with Andrew Landry.
Rahm shot a bogey-free, five-under-par 67 on the PGA West Stadium Course, with five birdies in an exceptional display of solid tee-to-green golf.
Landry shot a 68 that included one bogey on the par-three sixth hole, his only bogey during an otherwise near-flawless tournament.
Landry forced the playoff when he birdied the 440-yard 18th hole after Rahm failed to make a 13-foot birdie in the group ahead of him. That left the players at 22 under par and sent them back to the 18th tee for a sudden-death playoff.
They each parred 18 twice, then parred No. 10, then returned to 18. Rahm finally made a 12-footer for birdie; Landry’s effort from almost the same distance slid by.
“I’m really proud of the way I played,” Rahm said. “I hit a lot of bad putts today, hit a lot of edges, but luckily the one I needed to make went in. I was scared that Andrew was going to take the lead hand and make a putt. I just got fortunate that none of us really made any.”
After a host of players made runs at the top of the leaderboard under perfect conditions in La Quinta, the championship came down to Landry, a 30-year-old survivor of the Web.com Tour, and Rahm, a 23-year-old who has quickly become one of the strongest players on tour. After this win, Rahm climbed to No. 2 in the world.
“Being No. 2, it’s hard to believe,” said Rahm, who is from Spain but now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. “To get to where only Seve, Ollie and Sergio have gotten … to me it’s beyond belief,” he added of fellow countrymen Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia.
Rahm, the defending champion at Torrey Pines, site of this week’s tournament, now has two tour victories. Landry is looking for his first.
Each had opportunities in the closing holes of regulation.
Rahm, holding a one-stroke lead over Landry, failed to make birdie putts from seven, 13 and 13 feet on three of the final four holes; he could have built an almost insurmountable two-stroke lead had he made his putt on the 18th. Landry had missed late opportunities from 14 and nine feet before he dropped the 11 footer that forced the playoff.
The playoff holes followed a familiar pattern: Each hit good tee shots; each hit respectable shots into the green with makable birdie putts; each missed. The sun had long disappeared behind the Santa Rosa Mountains by the time the players began their fourth playoff hole and darkness threatened to call play for the day, forcing a Monday finish.
“I did not want to come back the next day and play,” Rahm said. “I was really glad I had the opportunity to putt first. I just trusted myself … and it went in.”
The playoff was the longest in this tournament since John Cook needed four extra holes to win a five-way playoff in 1992.
Adam Hadwin, Martin Piller and John Huh, who shot a 66, finished tied for third at 20 under par. Piller had begun the day a stroke behind third-round leader Austin Cook and shot a 70; Hadwin shot 32 on the back nine for a 68.
Former UCLA standout Kevin Chappell, who had four consecutive birdies on his way to a 67, and Scott Piercy, a 39-year-old journeyman who challenged for the lead before two bogeys on the back nine sidelined his effort, were tied for sixth at 19 under.
Sam Saunders started the day nine shots off the lead without realistic expectations of catching the leaders. But he started his round with three straight birdies and added six more on his second nine for a 64, the best score of the day, and finished at 18 under par, tied with Brandon Harkins and Jason Kokrak for eighth. Saunders is the grandson of Arnold Palmer, who won this event five times, including the inaugural tournament in 1960.
Cook, the leader at 19 under after three rounds, stumbled with a pair of double bogeys, shot 75 and finished at 14 under.
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