Jon Rahm. FilePic
KAPALUA, Hawaii, Jan 8: Jon Rahm produced a stunning finish as he went 6-under over last seven holes to begin the new year with a win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. In the process he outplayed Collin Morikawa, the leader by six shots overnight.
Tom Hoge (64) was tied for third with Max Homa (66).
The 20-year-old Tom Kim, the Korean sensation got his 2023 campaign off to a great start with a steady Top-5 finish as he shot 5-under 68 for a 22-under 270 total in his debut appearance at the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui. He was five strokes behind playing partner and winner Rahm.
Indian-American Sahith Theegala had another modest round of 1-under 72 and finished 10-under and was 33rd in his maiden appearance at the event.
Morikawa, who was chasing a first title since his 2021 Open Championship victory, faded to a 72 which included three consecutive bogeys from the 14th hole as he finished two behind Rahm.
“Top-5, great start to the year,” said Kim, who will head to the Sony Open in Hawaii for his next start. “Obviously had some rusts going on this week but still felt I played pretty solid. It was probably just putting. That’s normally the strength of my game where I make my shots. I just missed a lot of putts. It was not like I was hitting bad putts but I didn’t see the lines and the speed, and they didn’t go in. The game is feeling good and it’s definitely trending.”
“I’m excited (about next week). I’ve heard it’s going to be a good golf course for me so hopefully get some good prep. Top-5 here and hopefully have a better week next week.”
Another Korean, K.H. Lee, carded a 67 to finish tied seventh for his first top-10 in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which is the first of 17 designated tournaments this year with elevated purses and participation commitments from the world’s top-players. Sungjae Im of Korea (70) came in tied 13th while Hideki Matsuyama of Japan (72) settled for tied 22nd place ahead of his defence of the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Rahm was six behind on the 13th hole and then had three birdies in a row on 12th, 13th, and 14th and an eagle on 15th followed by a closing birdie on 18th. Morikawa, who had gone through 67 holes without a bogey dropped three in a row on 14-15-16 before getting a birdie on 18th. It was too late by then.
Morikawa led by seven at one stage and he also tied the PGA Tour record for losing the largest 54-hole lead at six shots. Seven other players have done that, most recently Dustin Johnson in the fall of 2017 at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
In December 2021 Morikawa had a five-shot lead at the Hero World Challenge and a chance to reach No. 1 in the world with a victory. He shot 76 and finished fifth.
Rahm finished at 27-under 265 to win by two shots over Morikawa.
Meanwhile, Masters champion Scottie Scheffler had a chance to return to No. 1 this week if he finished in a two-way tie for third or better. However he shot 70 and settled for seventh and did not get the World No. 1 position.
A year ago, Rahm finished 33-under par at Kapalua for a PGA TOUR record but it lasted very briefly, just less than a minute, as Cameron Smith finished at 34 under to win by one.
Rahm now has won three times in his last six starts worldwide — he won in Spain and Dubai late last year — and he goes home with $4.2 million. He has also won in each of his seven full years on the PGA TOUR.
Rahm was ecstatic with his thrilling victory after finishing runner-up here last season. He equalled the largest come-from-behind win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions (Gary Player/1978).
“It’s special. This is actually the first win with the whole family here. Both kids as well. So it’s going to be one to enjoy,” said the 28-year-old.