Relentless Rahm ready to wrap arms around another trophy
Austin Cook faces toughest task of career
Sky Sports Golf, 9pm
Story so far
US Tour rising star, Austin Cook, fired an eight-under-par 64 at La Quinta Country Club to propel himself to the CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard summit after three rounds.
Cook, 60-1 ante-post and 18-1 prior to his Saturday heroics, is one shot ahead and seeking his second victory of a superb US Tour rookie campaign. He made his breakthrough in hugely impressive fashion in the RSM Classic in November.
Tied for second place are two US Tour maidens – Andrew Landry and Martin Piller – while world number three Jon Rahm shares fourth spot with Scott Piercy. Rahm was a best-price 10-1 favourite at the start of the week and the Spanish youngster has retained market leadership throughout.
Rahm, who won the Farmers Insurance Open last season, is biggest at 11-4 to notch a second California triumph today.
-19 Austin Cook
-18 Andrew Landry, Martin Piller
-17 Scott Piercy, Jon Rahm
-16 Adam Hadwin, Grayson Murray, Brandon Harkins
-15 Jason Kokrak, Seamus Power
11-4 J Rahm, 100-30 A Cook, 7 A Landry, 9 M Piller, 10 S Piercy, 16 A Hadwin, 20 G Murray, 35 B Harkins, 40 Kokrak, 45 K Kisner, 50 S Power, 66 bar
Austin Cook appears to be the real deal. It took the super-talented Arkansas man slightly longer than expected to gain access to the US Tour, but he is clearly here to stay at the age of 26.
Cook is an excellent driver, who seems to be improving all the time with his putter, and the way he finished off his RSM Classic maiden victory suggested he could become a big-time player. It was a nerveless display, where he signed off with three birdies in his final four holes to complete a four-shot success.
The CareerBuilder Challenge final round will provide more evidence as to what punters are dealing with. If Cook repels the chasing pack at the tricky Stadium Course – a set of pursuers which includes one of the best players on the planet – then he will deserve serious plaudits.
Adam Hadwin was CareerBuilder runner-up last year and must be respected from three shots off the pace, but the shape of the leaderboard with 18 holes to play at the Stadium Course means a fascinating duel could develop between Cook and Jon Rahm.
Cook has shown impressive mettle so far in his short US Tour career, but a battle with Rahm would be a new test. JJ Spaun and Brian Gay were his main rivals in the RSM – this is a different kettle of fish. Rahm is a fearsome opponent in every sense, although it helps Cook that they will not actually be playing in the same group.
Landry putted magnificently to stay in the mix, but will need to improve his ball-striking to get the job done today. Landry, along with his fellow Texan and Tour maiden Martin Piller, may develop into a sideshow as Cook and Rahm assert themselves in the final round.
Scott Piercy is not a natural fit for the Stadium Course – too loose to get round trouble-free – so Cook and Rahm are the players for outright punters to concentrate on.
Rahm at 11-4 is slightly preferred to Cook at 100-30 – the extra experience of contending for top-class titles giving Rahm the edge. He won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November and the 23-year-old is clearly good enough to become world number one. Of all the players chasing Dustin Johnson in the world rankings, it is Rahm who probably gives Johnson most concern. Even with a chronic lack of course experience, the beast from the Basque Country was a regular contender last season.
Rahm played in the CareerBuilder last year, so has previous knowledge of the Stadium Course Sunday set-up, and he can be fancied to take this chance. Rahm to beat Cook, with Hadwin taking third place, could be the way this tournament pans out.
Final-round threeball punters are pointed towards Brian Harman, who has hardly carded a bad round this season. If Harman brings a professional attitude to the final day, there seems little reason why he should not outscore Ryan Palmer and Tyrone van Aswegen in the 5.45pm UK and Ireland time contest.
The final threeball of Cook, Landry and Piller is scheduled to tee off at 6.45pm.
4pts 11-4 bet365, Betway
Rahm-Cook dual forecast
1pt 5-1 Sky Bet
A Hadwin w/o Rahm & Cook
1pt 15-2 Sky Bet
2pts 10-11 general
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