Another Rahm-raid looking likely on Californian coast
Spanish beast continues to roar
Sky Sports Golf, 7pm Saturday
Jon Rahm will move to number one in the world rankings if he successfully defends his Farmers Insurance Open title this week and the brilliant Spaniard has given himself a fantastic chance to do so by reaching ten under par at the halfway stage.
The Farmers competitors have played a round at each of the two Torrey Pines courses used for this event – the South and the North – with the North playing much tougher than usual. Rahm fired a 66 at the North, though, and will head into 36 holes at the South over the weekend as the tournament favourite.
Rahm, the ante-post 8-1 market leader, is in second place with two rounds to go, one shot behind, and no bigger than 15-8 for victory. Ryan Palmer, a pre-tournament 150-1 poke, is the surprise pacesetter who has been slashed to 15-2.
Tiger Woods, centre of attention over the first two days, made a birdie at his final hole to make the cut by a shot. The other side of the line was Rickie Fowler, his level-par total not good enough. Woods is 250-1 to overcome a ten-shot deficit to triumph.
In-running outright punters must decide whether the short prices on Rahm are worth taking. This beast, arguably already the best player on the planet at the tender age of 23, is clearly the most likely winner. He has won one Farmers from one visit, relishes the event, and is bursting with form and confidence, having claimed a second US Tour title in the CareerBuilder Challenge last week.
The only negative against Rahm is that he contended for four days and four playoff holes in the CareerBuilder last week, having opened with a 62, and another four days in the heat of battle is a severe mental test. This is a young man, seemingly enjoying every minute of the spotlight, though, so he seems likely to overcome the challenge given a lack of quality around him on the leaderboard.
Palmer, who was struggling with physical and personal problems, last season, will probably struggle to keep pace with Rahm over the weekend, while Tony Finau had a great opportunity of winning this title last year, finding it all too much down the stretch.
US Tour maiden Luke List seems another unlikely Rahm-slayer. Alex Noren, who started working with a new putting coach (Jamie Donaldson) at the start of the year, is full of self-belief and could be dangerous, while Michael Kim is a local man full of course knowledge who could hang around on the board.
Serious threats to Rahm are difficult to identify, though, and the Farmers is looking like another building block towards greatness for this class act.
The final threeball of Palmer, Rahm and List, likely to be bossed by the European, are scheduled to tee off at 6.40pm UK and Ireland time.
Justin Rose, who has probably worked the jet-lag from Abu Dhabi out of his system by now, is another strong third-round threeball wager against Talor Gooch and Brice Garnett in the 5.40pm match. An extreme test of ball-striking, which Torrey Pines South certainly is, allows Rose to show off his tee-to-green strength.
4pts 15-8 BoyleSports
2pts 17-20 bet365
2pts 8-11 general
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