Golf: Rookie Thompson soars to PGA American Express lead with two eagles

Davis Thompson's 10-under total of 62 put him two clear of five players the American Express Tournament. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES – Golf is a game of concentration and even more so for a rookie on the PGA Tour like Davis Thompson.

The 23-year-old American said being focused was key, as he bagged back-to-back eagles on the way to a two-shot lead on Thursday at the American Express Tournament in La Quinta, California.

Thompson, a graduate of the developmental Korn Ferry Tour, was seven under after six holes thanks to his eagles at the fifth and sixth on the La Quinta Country Club course.

His 10-under total of 62 puts him two clear of five players, a group led by the fourth-ranked Spaniard Jon Rahm.

“My biggest challenge today was staying present-minded and trying to put one foot in front of the other,” said the former top-ranked amateur Thompson, whose two birdies on the back nine included an exclamation point at the 18th.

“Your mind definitely starts to wander a little bit. But I played enough rounds where I try to teach myself over and over you can’t get ahead of yourself.”

Thompson already had three birdies when he eagled the par-five fifth.

He missed the green at the par-five sixth but chipped in for another eagle, becoming the first player to eagle consecutive holes in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event since Shane Lowry in the third round of the 2022 Open Championship.

He added a birdie at the ninth to make the turn at eight under.

Thompson, who has made 19 starts on the PGA Tour as an amateur and a pro, said he still feels like a rookie – especially at a tournament that features three new courses, including the Nicklaus Tournament course and the Stadium course, to learn.

“You kind of have to play practice rounds pretty fast and kind of figure out what you want to do during the week,” he said.

“But at the same time it kind of goes both ways.

“You don’t put as much stress on yourself kind of preparing for every course because you’re trying to see every hole.”

Rahm, who also opened his week on the La Quinta course, is no stranger to the event, which he won in 2018.

His nine birdies included three in a row at the fifth, sixth and seventh and another three straight from the 11th.

“It’s a great start to the tournament,” said the Spaniard, who won the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Jan 8.

“Solid round of golf, great putting out there. Hopefully I can keep that going the whole week.”

The second-ranked Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who again has a chance to supplant Rory McIlroy as No. 1 this week, opened with a 68.

So did world No. 5 Patrick Cantlay – who also has a slim chance of reaching No. 1 by the end of the tournament. AFP

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