2023 Tournament of Champions Points, Ratings: Jon Rahm’s Herculean Final Round Ends With Stunning Victory

2023 Tournament of Champions Points, Ratings: Jon Rahm’s Herculean Final Round Ends With Stunning Victory

The 2023 Tournament of Champions looked set to be Collin Morikawa’s undoing for the first 67 holes. In full control of the game and with a six-stroke lead heading into Sunday, the rest of the field simply played for second place. Everyone except Jon Rahm, that is. Seeing his name fall as many as nine strokes behind Morikawa’s, the Spaniard kept his head down and went to work. The result? He totaled 27 under and was rewarded with a two-stroke victory on the Plantation Course at Kapalua.

Beginning his final round with a bogey, the former world No. 1 fell short on 16 and looked set for a fine finish, but certainly not a memorable one. A birdie on his second hole immediately put Rahm back at even on the day, and four more par breakers on his outside half saw him now 21 under for the tournament.

“If you told me at the beginning of the round after that bogey that I was going to do what I did and have a three-shot lead after finishing, I don’t know if I would have believed you,” Rahm said. “But at that point, it’s not like winning is really in the mind. You just have to start working and start making birdies, and that’s what I did. That stretch of four through six, with the three birdies, birdie nine allowed me to get into a rhythm, and the stretch from 12 to 15 was also very important.”

A birdie at the 12th put Rahm within five of Morikawa and in with a chance to pull off an upset. Two more birdies on 13 and 14 put him within three. With Morikawa still needing to play the more accessible holes on the back nine, on paper, this Herculean effort from Rahm was another performance at Kapalua that would fall short.

Coming into the week with five top-10 finishes in as many starts at the Tournament of Champions, Rahm has experienced his fair share of close matches at this event. At 33 under at this tournament a year ago, a record performance from Cameron Smith was all that stood between Rahm and his first victory at Kapalua.

There would be none of that this season as an emphatic eagle on the par-5 15th propelled Rahm to 26 under. At the same time, Morikawa began to show cracks with their newly revamped chipping and putting returning to their troubled selves. A bladed bunker shot on the drivable par-4 14th led to his first bogey of the championship before more short game problems arose at the 15th and 16th with bogeys following.

“So 15 is when it really became a reality when I had that putt to get within one stroke and knowing how well I played 16 and 18 are good birdie options,” Rahm said. “When the putt went in and then on 17. I couldn’t believe it when I missed the green right, we had a one shot lead and everything changed. It took quite a while to settle down and change my mindset.. . it was a bit of a rollercoaster five minutes there.”

A birdie on the final hole put the finishing touches on a stunning 10-under 63 in which Rahm played his last 17 holes at 11 under. After going 27-under on the week and reaching 60-under on the Plantation Course over his last eight rounds, the consistent greatness from the former world No.1 was finally enough to earn him a much-deserved, and perhaps overdue, trophy in Hawaii. Grade: A+

Here’s an overview of the rest of the 2023 Tournament of Champions leaderboard

2. Collin Morikawa (-25): As impressive as Rahm’s win was, the Morikawa loss was just as stunning. Through the first 67 holes of this event, Morikawa played them at 27 under with no bogeys; he then played holes 68-70 in 3 over with three bogeys. It would be inexplicable if not for how many times we’ve seen this play out in golf. Sundays with a lead on the back of an event are very different to Thursdays and Fridays, and Morikawa hit some shots that can only be explained by a mental deterioration not uncommon even for the best players in the world. Morikawa won’t mind given the fact that he blew what was at one point a nine-stroke lead to Rahm, but his putter has been magical this week and he’s nearly 1.3 strokes off the course. If that keeps happening, he’s going to win a ton in 2023. He’s now finished in the top two in seven of the nine events where he’s gained at least 1.0 strokes with the putter, but probably not in the position he thought he would our. due this week. Grade: A-

5. Tom Kim (-22): Hands up, I was impressed. I came into the year questioning his skills, but he led the field in strokes gained tee to green and continues to elevate his game at every turn and at every turn. There is still much unknown about Kim, which is part of what makes him interesting. If he continues to hit the golf ball the way he has during his first nine months of golf on the PGA Tour, he will have great success even if he is not productive off the tee. Grade: A

T13. Jordan Spieth (-19): After shooting the first two rounds at 13-under, Spieth shot the final two at just 6-under and pulled himself out of the tournament entirely with what he said were “bad decisions.”

“Obviously after Friday I would have wanted a better weekend,” Spieth said. “I made a lot of really, really bad decisions this weekend. It was no less, it was no more or less on execution than the first two days. I made seven of them yesterday and at least four or five today. Very unlike me for a weekend. Which might just go in a little bit of a fight and a little bit of rust. I really haven’t played in the last groups in a weekend since, I mean, shoot, going back more than six months.”

Spieth didn’t hit the ball very well this weekend – perhaps some of that was due to the poor decisions – but he still finished in the top 15 in tee-to-green play among the best tee-to-green players in the world. He will play Sony next week in Honolulu, which he said will be a big change from Kapalua. Given how bullish I am on his year, I’m very curious to see how he fares on a completely different golf course than this one (and possibly one that suits his skills even better). Grade: B+

WD. Xander Schauffele: It was a bummer to see Schauffele with an early exit in Hawaii, especially coming in off the year he had last year. But his reasoning? Well, that made me chuckle. Character: I

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