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Jon Rahm continued to impress Saturday at Round 3 of the 2023 American Express. Shooting out of the gates at the Stadium Course, the 2018 champion quickly made up the two-stroke deficit to 18 and 36-hole leader Davis Thompson. Playing his first 12 holes at 8 under, Rahm eventually reached 24 under for the tournament before a slowdown on the greens.
Carding one bogey and five pars over the course of his final six holes, Rahm will head into the final round at 23 under and in a share of the lead with Thompson. While the PGA Tour rookie was unable to match his par-5 prowess from the first two days that included a total of five eagles, the 23-year-old showed gumption and guts often lost on a first-year player.
Never wavering in the face of adversity, Thompson came in with a respectable 5-under 67 to stand alongside Rahm and four strokes ahead of their nearest pursuers. While the potential for a match-play situation between the final pairing is high, there are many hoping that will not be the case as Tom Kim, Sam Burns and Taylor Montgomery sit five strokes adrift with Scottie Scheffler and Sungjae Im just one more behind.
T1. Davis Thompson, Jon Rahm (-23)
I wouldn’t necessarily describe this as a David vs. Goliath situation, but it is certainly in the neighborhood. This week marks Thompson’s 20th start on the PGA Tour while his playing competitor Sunday boasts accolades such as former world No. 1, major championship winner and eight-time PGA Tour winner. Rahm displayed some frustration with the flat stick late in his third round and if it were to carry over into the final round could give way to a player relishing the underdog role.
“A lot of people could have said that the first time Jordan Spieth won, the first time I won, the first time a lot of people won,” Rahm said of his experience being an advantage. “So do you have an advantage? I don’t know. I mean, I have the experience of being there, if it goes down to the wire. But he’s [Thompson’s] no slouch, obviously. He’s done what he’s done. At the end of the day it’s you against you. You can only control what you’re doing.”
3. J.T. Poston, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-19)
T5. Tom Kim, Harry Higgs, Sam Burns, Taylor Montgomery (-18)
T9. Dylan Wu, Chris Kirk, Patton Kizzire, Sungjae Im, Robby Shelton, Scottie Scheffler (-17)
While one rookie occupies the top of the leaderboard, another one in Montgomery is lurking yet again. The Las Vegas resident has made the cut in each of his first eight starts in his inaugural stroll around the PGA Tour and has firmly put his name into the Rookie of the Year conversation. Collecting seven top-15 finishes during this stretch, Montgomery is on the cusp of adding to this total and bluntly summarized the motivation behind this consistent effort.
“Somebody told me that my game wasn’t very consistent about a year and a half ago and it kind of pissed me off,” Montgomery said. “So, I’ve been consistent.”
Is another dramatic Sunday in store?
The first two weeks on the PGA Tour in 2023 have been nothing short of jaw-dropping. With Rahm coming back from as many as nine strokes at the Tournament of Champions and Si Woo Kim overcoming a three-stroke deficit at the Sony Open, it does make one wonder if something similar could happen at The American Express.
Defending champion Hudson Swafford erased a three-stroke margin en route to his victory a year ago and two years prior, Patrick Cantlay nearly accomplished the impossible. Making the 54-hole cut on the number, Cantlay fired a final round 11-under 61 and fell just one stroke short of eventual winner, Si Woo Kim. This is surely not lost on the chasing pack that includes a number of PGA Tour winners including Tom Kim, Burns, Im and Scheffler.
2023 American Express updated odds and picks
- Jon Rahm: 4/7
- Davis Thompson: 3-1
- J.T. Poston: 25-1
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout: 30-1
- Tom Kim: 33-1
- Taylor Montgomery: 35-1
- Sam Burns: 35-1
- Scottie Scheffler: 45-1
- Sungjae Im: 75-1
This has essentially become a head-to-head matchup between Rahm and Thompson unless something biblical unfolds. While I would love nothing more than to see Thompson take down the world beater that is Rahm, it is difficult to envision that happening.
There is still a smidge of value in Rahm’s price at 4/7 given how cooperative the putter has been since the BMW Championship last summer (he is averaging roughly +1.50 strokes gained putting per round during this run). Because of this, and in conjunction with his rock-solid tee to green game, his second win of 2023 — and fourth in his last six starts — appears inevitable.