After a torrid start to the new year, Jon Rahm now has a chance this week to ascend to world No. 1.
There are three scenarios in play that could see Rahm return to the top spot in the rankings for the first time in 10 months:
• A win at the Farmers Insurance Open;
• A solo second at Torrey Pines, with Rory McIlroy finishing worse than solo third at the Dubai Desert Classic;
• A solo third at Torrey Pines, with McIlroy finishing worse than solo 27th in Dubai.
Full-field scores from the Farmers Insurance Open
Despite four wins in his last six starts (and two in a row to begin 2023 on the PGA Tour), Rahm has risen only from No. 6 to No. 3 in the world. A late rally in his second round Thursday at Torrey Pines at least gave him an outside chance for another title. Outside the cut line with five holes to play in his windswept second round on the easier North Course, the Spaniard jumpstarted his round with an eagle and then ripped off three birdies in a row to shoot 67, matching the low round of the day.
Rahm, who has made a Tour-leading 22 consecutive cuts, rocketed from outside the top 100 to 14th place. He is eight shots back of Sam Ryder, who is looking for his first Tour victory.
“What I shot today, man,” Rahm said afterward, “I’m going to be skipping out of the golf course today because it’s a great round of golf.”
The Farmers has a scheduled Saturday finish this week, while the Dubai Desert Classic is headed for a Monday conclusion following early-round storms. First-round play in Dubai was suspended for six hours because of inclement weather, forcing the DP World Tour to push the final round of the Rolex Series event into Monday.
McIlroy, who became world No. 1 last October, opened with 66 and currently sits in a tie for fourth in his first start of the new year. World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler is idle this week.
“I can’t control what anyone else does,” McIlroy told reporters Friday in Dubai. “Rahmbo has gotten off to an unbelievable start to the year, building off what he did at the back end of last year as well. I’m not really paying attention to the world rankings or anything. I’m just trying to get off to a good start to my year, trying to work on some things in my game and concentrate on myself.”