The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, January 26, 2022 9:40 pm


Eagle at end puts Rahm in the hunt

63 puts Horschel on top at Farmers

GREG BEACHAM Associated Press

SAN DIEGO – Top-ranked Jon Rahm closed with an eagle on the tougher South Course at Torrey Pines for a 6-under 66 on Wednesday, trailing leader Billy Horschel by three strokes after the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Horschel shot a bogey-free 9-under 63 on the North Course and led Michael Thompson by one stroke. Of the 30 players who shot 67 or better, 26 played the North. Rahm’s was the best score on the South by one over Luke List, Peter Malnati and Cameron Tringale. The players switch courses today and play the final two rounds on the South.

Horschel made five birdies on the front nine, highlighted by a 25-foot putt on the par-4 second hole. The 35-year-old is seeking his first non-match play win on the PGA Tour since April 2018.

“I told my caddie, ‘Let’s just go out there, no expectations, and just enjoy,’” Horschel said. “And I think we did a really good job of that. My game is in a really good spot.”

Thompson also played bogey-free, putting him one shot ahead of Stephan Jaeger and Kevin Tway.

Rickie Fowler, Doug Ghim and Francesco Molinari also shot 66s, all on the North.

Rahm said the conditions were relatively easy even on the South. He stumbled with two bogeys on the back nine before finishing strong, crushing a 280-yard approach shot on the par-5 18th to 12 feet for eagle.

“It was probably one of the best swings I’ll make all year,” Rahm said. “That 3-wood was absolutely perfect.”

Horschel tied for 36th at the Sony Open in Hawaii two weeks ago, but he nearly had to skip Torrey Pines because of a persistent upper-body muscular injury that has required daily treatment. He didn’t decide to play for sure until he felt good when he woke up Wednesday morning.

Thompson is seeking his first win since July 2020, and he played another excellent round after finishing in a fifth-place tie at the Sony Open. Thompson is a PGA Tour veteran, but he is getting plenty of double-takes around the tour while rocking a thick, long beard that he started growing before last year’s playoffs.

“I haven’t been mistaken for anybody,” said Thompson, whose wife told him to keep the look. “It’s just more people think I’m a rookie because I look so different. You know, I’ve probably gotten more comments of, ‘What hockey team do you play for?’”

The Farmers Insurance Open being played Wednesday through Saturday to avoid a television conflict with the NFL’s conference championship games on Sunday.

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