Jon Rahm is undoubtedly playing the best golf of any player on the planet right now as he forced another win over the line on the PGA Tour at The American Express.
His experience and shotmaking under pressure ultimately helped him overcome Tour rookie Davis Thompson by one stroke, carding a 68 to finish on 27-under.
Thompson, who made five eagles in the first two rounds at La Quinta, was neck and neck with the European star throughout the afternoon in California, but Rahm made a crucial par on 14 and birdie on 16 to seal the fourth win in his last six starts worldwide.
The 28-year-old is now a two-time winner at The American Express and a nine-time winner on Tour. He may not rise to World No.1, but he is now top of the FedEx Cup standings.
Rahm and Thompson began the day level on 23-under, but the Spaniard burst out of the blocks with two birdies in his first two holes. After seven holes, he held a one-shot advantage on 25-under over Thompson and Chris Kirk.
It’s a cruel game.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 22, 2023
Davis Thompson was THIS close to tying the lead on 17 @TheAmExGolf. pic.twitter.com/Ygj9MURRvJ
Rahm added a birdie on 9, but Thompson remained in the hunt with a birdie on the same hole and another on 11. Kirk remained on Rahm's coattails too with seven birdies on the front nine. He and Thompson were one behind Rahm with just eight holes remaining.
Meanwhile, Xander Schauffele began to move through the field. The 29-year-old made an amazing albatross on the par-5 5th hole to rocket up the leaderboard and he added seven birdies between holes 8 and 16 to apply some pressure to the leaders too.
Schauffele signed for a 62 to set the clubhouse target of 25-under. On the tough par-3 13th hole, Rahm failed to make up-and-down for par and suddenly, he was tied up with Thompson on 26-under. Taylor Montgomery was also one stroke off the lead at this stage.
Thompson wasted a big opportunity to go one ahead on the par-4 14th hole by missing an eight-footer for birdie, while Rahm made a clutch up-and-down for par. Kirk narrowly missed a birdie putt on the par-5 16th to tie the lead too.
After Rahm edged ahead with a birdie putt on 16 that looped around the hole before falling into the cup, Thompson rattled the pin from 50 feet on the par-3 17th with a birdie putt, leaving him to trail by one with one hole left.
Despite finding the fairway bunker on the 72nd hole, Rahm found the heart of the green with a solid iron which secured the par. Unfortunately, Thompson missed the green which ruled out a birdie to force the playoff.
Clutch shot on 18 from @JonRahmPGA— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 22, 2023
He’s now in prime position to win @TheAmExGolf. pic.twitter.com/Tr8ISShjVz
The American Express - Final leaderboard
-27 J Rahm
-26 D Thompson
-25 C Kirk, X Schauffele
-24 T Montgomery
-23 E Van Rooyen, M Schmid, R Shelton, T Kim, J.T. Poston
-22 G Higgo, S Scheffler, P Kizzire, S Burns, C Bezuidenhout