Sunday was a lucrative day for Jon Rahm as he won the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club, a $3.6 million purse and a GV70 Genesis. This was the Spaniard’s third victory in five tournaments in 2023 and re-established his ranking as the No. 1 player in the world.
Although Rahm, 28, won by two strokes with a final score of 267, he had to overtake California native Max Homa on the final six holes Sunday.
Thursday through Saturday, Rahm shot 65-68-65 to establish a three-shot lead over Homa, who shot 64, 68 and 69. Keith Mitchell was four strokes back and Patrick Cantlay five back.
Sunday’s head-to-head dual between Rahm and Homa was a nerve-racking battle as Homa gained a stroke on the front nine by shooting a three-under 32. He then birdied 10 and suddenly was tied with Rahm, who bogeyed the hole.
Unfortunately for Homa, that was his final birdie of the day, and though Rahm bogeyed 12 to give Homa the lead, Homa proceeded to bogey 13 to even their showdown. Then Rahm showed why he’s such a great golfer. He holed a 46-ft putt for a birdie two on 14 and sank a two-foot birdie putt on 16 to gain his ultimate two-stroke edge.
Afterwards, Rahm told reporters, “If you told me on the ninth tee that I was going to be one back on the 13th tee, I wouldn’t believe you because I was feeling that good, right? But it’s golf and this golf course especially, this golf course can get you.”
Rahm, who attended Arizona State, made his professional debut at a PGA Tour event hosted by Tiger Woods and won the 2018 Hero World Challenge, also hosted by Woods.
Congratulating Rahm on Sunday’s victory, Woods said, “Please understand and please respect how good this guy is.”
When Rahm received the trophy, he thanked Woods for giving him a chance. “This golf course has so much history, it’s so special and hosted by Tiger Woods makes it unique. To win a tournament hosted by Tiger and the one hosted by Jack [Nicklaus] as well, it’s pretty incredible.”
He described this tournament as one of the highest on a golfer’s calendar—and then he added that “two of the greatest golfers of all time, Jack and Tiger, haven’t won this tournament.” Tiger smiled.
Rahm was asked if there was anything about Tiger’s game or mentality he admired. “All of it, every single aspect of his game and mentality,” he said. “But I think the No. 1 attribute is for the better part of 15 years and even in 2019, he just seemed to have the ability to make the putts that he needed to make when he needed to make them on that back nine, right? Just when he had to make that par putt, he had to make that shot or whatever, gave himself a chance, he did no matter what.”
In the clubhouse, Homa, who earned $2.18 million, spoke about Rahm to the media, “I wanted to push him. He is a spectacular golfer. I would say other than Tiger and I don’t even know, he’s the most consistent player I’ve seen. I’ve known him since college and he’s been like this since then, No. 1 amateur in the world, No. 1 player in the world, all the accolades.
“I wanted to make him beat me and I think I did that,” Homa said. “I let him off the hook on 13, but man, it was cool to see myself push him and not feel like I had 100 percent of my game.
“I played great everywhere but off the tee on that back nine, but it is what it is,” Homa continued. “I think it’s pretty amazing going against someone like Jon. You know he’s going to play well so it’s almost comforting knowing you’re just going to have to play better, he’s not going to fold.
“I’m not disappointed in my golf, I’m just disappointed in the ending,” Homa said.
Patrick Cantlay, a UCLA grad, shot a 67 to finish alone in third, three strokes behind, and received $1.38 million, while also moving up to No. 4 in the world.
Two California natives, Collin Morikawa and Pepperdine grad Sahith Theegala, tied for sixth at 11 under and earned $700,000 each. Theegala, who shot 66 Sunday, has won $2,765,140 on the PGA Tour this year and is 9th on the money list.
Tiger Woods? Playing in his tournament since the British Open, he shot 69-74-67-73 to finish one-under-par for the tournament.
Many Pacific Palisades residents who waited too long to get a ticket could not attend the event because it was sold out on Saturday and Sunday.