Golf: Rookie Thompson swoops for 3 eagles to lead Rahm at American Express event

Davis Thompson tees off at the 13th hole during the second round of The American Express golf tournament. PHOTO: REUTERS/ USA TODAY SPORTS

LOS ANGELES - PGA Tour rookie Davis Thompson grabbed a trio of eagles on Friday in an eight-under 64 that kept him two strokes clear of Spain’s Jon Rahm in the American Express tournament in California.

After notching back-to-back eagles in his first-round 62, Thompson matched the US tour record for eagles through 36 holes in a tournament as he added another three on the Nicklaus Tournament course, one of three in use for the event in La Quinta, California.

“Just had some good numbers into par-fives and was able to execute my shots,” said the 23-year-old, graduate of the developmental Korn Ferry Tour, who is chasing his first PGA Tour title.

“Had some putts drop. So it was nice to make some eagles.”

The first came at the par-five 11th, where he rolled in a 20-foot eagle putt.

After a birdie at No. 15, he slowed a bit with bogeys at the 16th and first.

But he bounced back with a birdie at the third followed by an eagle at the fourth, where he hit a five-iron to about 15 feet and made the putt.

He added birdies at the fifth and sixth. At the seventh, he hit a “really good six-iron and make, like, a 20-footer” to cap a run that saw him pick up seven strokes within five holes.

“Everything is kind of clicking these last two playing days and just looking forward to trying to keep it rolling tomorrow,” Thompson said.

On Saturday he will play the Stadium Course, which will also host the final round after the 54-hole cut is made.

World No. 4 Rahm, who lifted the title in the California desert in 2018, was impressed by Thompson’s eagle tally.

“Five eagles in two rounds on two different courses is pretty impressive,” the Spaniard said. “It’s good playing.”

He said he was “feeling great” after posting eight birdies without a bogey in his 64 on the Nicklaus course for a 16-under 128.

“A lot of confidence,” said Rahm, who left himself a bevy of short putts with a sharp wedge game.

A perfectionist, he said he could not call it his best golf “because I expect a lot of myself”.

“But still pretty damn good rounds of golf,” added Rahm, who opened 2023 with a win in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Jan 8.

The Spaniard was three strokes in front of a group of five players sharing third on 131.

South Korean Kim Joo-hyung had an eagle and eight birdies in a 62 on the Nicklaus course to reach 13 under.

Australian veteran Jason Day (64) had an eagle and six birdies on the Stadium Course, where South Korean Im Sung-jae and J.T. Poston both carded 66 and Tyler Duncan signed for a 67.

World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler, who again has a chance to overtake Rory McIlroy atop the world rankings, carded a 65 on the Nicklaus course to lie seven off the pace on 133. AFP

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