LOS ANGELES — Max Homa knew he’d have to be perfect to catch who he called “the hottest golfer on the planet.”
While he had a solid final round, it wasn’t good enough to overtake Jon Rahm — who more than lived up to that description.
Rahm, after starting the day with a three-shot lead, held on to win the Genesis Invitational on Sunday afternoon at Riviera Country Club. The win came amid a wild stretch of dominance for the Spaniard, who now has 10 career PGA Tour wins to his name and retakes the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings.
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Rahm left the door open for Homa, and even a few others, plenty of times on Sunday. He bogeyed the third after missing a putt, and had to scramble to save bogey after missing his drive into the trees and then hitting out into the bunker at the 10th. Homa birdied each of those holes, which wiped Rahm’s lead off the board.
Neither mistake, however, stuck. Rahm sank a deep birdie from almost 46 feet off the fringe to retake the lead at the par-3 14th, and then almost hit a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th. Suddenly, he was back up by two with two holes to go.
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Rahm then closed his day with a pair of pars to take the two-shot win at 17-under. Homa shot a 3-under 68 and finished at 15-under on the week. He jumped to No. 8 in the OWGR with his finish, marking the first time in his career he's been inside the top-10.
“Man, I fought,” an emotional Homa said. “I really just wanted to push him … He is a spectacular golfer. I would say other than Tiger [Woods] and, I don’t even know, he’s the most consistent player I’ve ever seen.”
Continued dominance from Jon Rahm
Rahm isn’t alone at the top of the sport. World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler and No. 3 Rory McIlroy are playing top-level golf right now, too. Scheffler finished T12 at the Genesis Invitational, though he was nine-shots back of Rahm, and McIlroy ended his week at 4-under at T29.
But neither of them are as consistent as Rahm.
Rahm now has three wins already this season after he won the Sentry Tournament of Champions and The American Express. He’s the fastest golfer to get to three Tour wins in a calendar year since Johnny Miller did so in 1975. He’s won in five of his last nine combined U.S. and international starts, too, dating back to the Acciona Open de Espana and the DP World Tour Championship late last year. Two of those wins came in the first three of the Tour’s new designated events which feature better fields and higher payouts.
Rahm also retook the No. 1 ranking for the first time in nearly a year, and he now has seven top-10 finishes in as many appearances on Tour this season. Though he has his issues with the current OWGR system, Rahm isn’t worried about where he ends up in the rankings. He knows where he’s at.
“If I don’t get to No. 1 at this point, I don’t really care,” Rahm said. “I’ve won five of my last nine starts. I haven't finished worse than top seven, and I’ve won three tournaments already [this season].
“I don’t need a ranking to tell me, to validate anything, right? I’m having the best season of my life, and hopefully I can keep it going.”
Rahm’s dominance won’t last forever. He was struggling a bit as recently as last summer, and the 28-year-old is bound to struggle again at some point before he’s done.
But while his winning ways lasts, he’s going to take full advantage.
“I guess I just keep doing what I've been doing,” he said. “You know, I've been obviously doing a lot of the things I needed to do properly every single day and that's the important thing, right? Just keeping that daily process as good as I have been.
“Obviously I've been extremely disciplined my whole career, but right now I'm seeing the dividends of a lot of the hard work over the years. So just keep doing the small things and keep enjoying it, having fun.”