Rahm limits mistakes to take Riviera lead as Tigers posts 67

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jon Rahm kept mistakes off his card Saturday at Riviera, the difference in allowing him to post a 6-under 65 and start to pull away from the field at the Genesis Invitational.

Tiger Woods lost ground, too, even if he looked good doing it. Woods had a tap-in eagle on his way to a 67, his lowest Saturday round in an official event since he won the Zozo Championship in Japan in the fall of 2019. Even so, he was 12 shots back.

Rahm capped off his bogey-free day with a 25-foot birdie putt that gave him a three-shot lead over Max Homa, who had a share of the lead until consecutive bogeys from the bunker along the back nine. He had a 69.

Keith Mitchell made his only bogey on the final hole and had a 69 to fall four behind. The only other player within five shots was Patrick Cantlay (68).

Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., has quietly moved into a tie for sixth at 7-under. He shot a 3-under round on Saturday.

Mackenzie Hughes of Hamilton, Ont., and Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., are both in an eight-way tie for 55th at even par. Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., is tied for 65th at 2-over, while Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., is 67th at 5-over.

Rahm has been the best player in golf over the last six months. Dating to the BMW PGA Championship on the European tour, he has finished among the top 10 in nine consecutive tournaments, winning four of them.

All that's left is a return to No. 1 in the world, and he can do that with a victory Sunday.

For Woods, it felt like a win just being back on the PGA Tour for four straight rounds, something he hasn't done since the Masters. Then again, he only played three times last year because of his right leg severely damaged in a February 2021 car crash.

He made the cut on the number when the second round was completed Saturday morning, 11 shots off the lead and starting on the back nine in one of the last few groups. That didn't keep thousands of fans lining the fairway over the next five hours.

Woods made a few birdies on the back nine, and then hit 5-iron onto the front of the green at the par-5 first hole, the ball rolling across the firm turf and a few inches next to the cup before settling three feet away for an eagle.

His only bogey came at the seventh. It was encouraging nonetheless because Woods says he's still sore walking after his rounds. He only made it to the weekend twice in the three tournaments he played last year, posting rounds of 78 at Augusta National and 79 in the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

“I wanted to get in touch with the leaders today, I was hoping to shoot something a little bit lower than I did just so I could reach out to them hopefully with a low round tomorrow,” Woods said. “I might be a little far away.”

That leader is Rahm, and it's daunting regardless of the margin.

Rahm was in a terrific battle with Homa, the Southern California native who won at Riviera two years ago. Rahm took the lead by finishing the front nine with consecutive bogeys, only for Homa to catch with a pitch to tap-in range on the 10th and catch him again with a bold play left of the left pin on the 13th.

But it was Homa who blinked first.

He found the fairway bunker on the 15th, the toughest hole at Riviera, came up short of the green and missed a tough 10-footer for par. He pulled his tee shot on the par-3 16th into a bunker and again missed a 10-foot putt for par.

Rahm motored along, making a 12-foot par putt on the 13th and chipping nicely when he did miss the greens to eliminate the stress. He ended with a birdie to reach 15-under 198, one extra shot to work with on Sunday.

Also in range is the oldest 72-hole scoring record on the PGA Tour — 20-under 264 by Lanny Wadkins in 1985. All that matters to Rahm is another victory that would give him the ranking that his game embodies at the moment.


AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press