Jon Rahm expressed his surprise after hearing Tiger Woods confirm he's making his PGA Tour return after forcing his way into contention at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
A second round of 5-under 66 pulled Rahm to within one stroke of the early leader Scottie Scheffler.
Scheffler is the reigning champion of this event, which now has been given elevated status at TPC Scottsdale.
The 2022 Masters champion carded a faultless 7-under 64 to set up a potentially mouth-watering weekend showdown with the Spanish World No.3.
Rahm's round was highlighted by holing out for eagle at No. 15
Still, it was the news that Woods, 47, is making his first start since last July's Open that had everybody talking.
Including Rahm, who said:
"He's playing Riv? Nice. Well I didn't know. Great to hear. Great to hear. After all he's gone through. It's incredible that he keeps trying. Spoke to him at Bahamas.
"Everything he had on his leg and then you add the plantar fasciitis. I really feel for him in that sense.
"But I know he's going to keep doing everything he can to still try to win more tournaments. Possibly get that 83rd win. Hopefully, obviously in his mind a major, right?
"So it's a true honour for all of us. Any time Tiger can be present on the golf course playing makes the tournament even better. So I'm hoping he can play comfortably and I'm hoping he can play well."
Rahm was once again pressed on the debate around who is the best player in the world.
McIlroy is currently ranked the best but Rahm reckons he's deserving of the crown.
"Listen, you can find a criteria or algorithm that's going to make me No. 1 at any given point. I feel like I've been No. 1 and I wasn't playing as good as I am right now.
"So it doesn't really matter. You got keep doing it. Yes, I've been playing great golf. But Rory has also won three of his last eight starts, so it makes sense that he stays up there.
"Scottie did enough last year to stay up there. He's been playing great. He hasn't won, but he's been up there. That still racks up points."
"So I feel like I'm playing great. I feel like, again, if I'm not the best I'm one of the best. Just because I have been playing good and I'm confident on myself. But I don't get too much in that discussion. A lot of what we say about the ranking is more for fun than anything else."
As for Scheffler, he made seven birdies on Friday to provide himself a wonderful opportunity to win $3.6m.
He said of a potential showdown with Rahm:
"I mean that would be a lot of fun. It looks like right now we're 1 and 2 but we'll see how things shake out. A lot of guys still have a lot of golf out there to play. Should be a fun weekend."
Waste Management Phoenix Open leaderboard
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