Rahm grabs lead with Rory close as Tiger leaps into PGA hunt

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Third-ranked Jon Rahm seized the lead of the Farmers Insurance Open yesterday while Rory McIlroy chased the world number one spot and Tiger Woods charged into contention for a record-setting 83rd career US PGA title.

Rahm made five birdies and an eagle to shoot a bogey-free seven-under par 65 and stand on 12-under 204 after 54 holes at Torrey Pines with American Ryan Palmer one shot back after a 71.

“I was really focussed. To stay bogey free at Torrey Pines is a really good round,” said Rahm, who made all 15 of his putts from 10 feet or less. “I hit a lot of really good putts.”

Woods, who has eight career triumphs at Torrey Pines, fired a 69 to stand five behind Rahm entering today’s final round at the seaside San Diego layout.

“I’m going to have to shoot a pretty good round tomorrow,” Woods said. “I’ll have my work cut out for me. I’ll have to go out there and post a number and hopefully it will be good enough.”

Second-ranked McIlroy, needing a victory to return to world number one for the first time since 2015, fired a 67 to join a third-place pack on 207 with South Korean Kang Sung and Americans Harry Higgs and Cameron Champ.

“I hit the ball well off the tee. I gave myself plenty of chances,” said McIlroy. “If you can pack your patience around this place, just hang around, you should be okay.

“No one is going to go out here and shoot the lights out. If you keep putting it on the green and give yourself chances, you’re going to do well out here.”

That’s what 15-major winner Woods hopes as the 44-year-old reigning Masters champion tries to move past the all-time record 82 US PGA wins he shares with Sam Snead.

Woods sank a 13-foot birdie putt on the same first hole where on Saturday he four-putted to a double bogey, then curled in a seven-foot birdie putt on the par-3 third and chipped in from 17 feet to rescue par at the fourth.

Woods birdied the par-5 sixth and ninth to pull within two of the lead.

“Most of my putts I made were all uphill,” Woods said. “It’s important to leave the ball in the correct spots, and when I did I poured them in there.”

Woods made bogey at the par-3 11th then grinded out seven concluding pars, the most crucial on a 15-foot putt at the par-5 18th.

“It was important to make that putt to salvage the round a little bit and get some momentum going for the round tomorrow,” Woods said.