Patrick Reed made five pars today and shot a 69. I have no idea how this is possible, but he's 8 under going into Sunday's finale.
Can I interest you in a free-swinging Rory McIlroy trying to run down a hot-handed Jon Rahm during the final round of the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open on Sunday at Torrey Pines? We get the No. 2 and No. 3 players in the world duking it out on a major championship-like course over the last 18 holes in what should be a thrilling end to the first massive event of the calendar year.
Those two combined to shoot the two best rounds of the day on Saturday (Rahm at 7 under, McIlroy at 5 under) as Rahm moved to 12 under and atop the leaderboard while McIlroy moved to 9 under and T3 alongside Sung Kang, Harry Higgs and Cameron Champ. Sandwiched between them is second-round leader Ryan Palmer at 11 under.
Rahm and McIlroy quietly (?) had the two best endings to the 2019 calendar year, so it's fitting that they're clashing to start 2020 as well. Rahm won in Ireland, Spain and Dubai on the European Tour while McIlroy shut down the Canadian Open, Tour Championship and WGC-HSBC Champions in China. Six wins over the last six months of last year.
They both have a strong history at Torrey Pines, too. McIlroy finished T5 in his debut last season, and Rahm won the event back in 2017 on a wild eagle putt at the last. Despite this elite field, a Rahm-McIlroy sparring session is about as good of an outcome as we could have hoped for coming into the week. Now we get probably the two best players in the world right now (I'll listen to Justin Thomas arguments!) going at it to jump-start what should be an unbelievable year in golf. In the words of famous golf fan, Bart Scott: Can't wait!
Here's the leaderboard going into Sunday's finale.
1. Jon Rahm (-12): He has eight birdies, an eagle and just one bogey over his last 32 holes. I'm slightly concerned that he's not hitting his irons all that well so far (negative strokes gained), but the control he has off the tee is astonishing. He's 300 yards a pop in distance and top 10 in fairways hit.
2. Ryan Palmer (-11): Backed up his 62 on Saturday with a grinding 1-under 71 on Saturday. Not likely to win but also not likely to fade, either. And he hasn't hit any putts yet on the South Course. That final trio of Rahm-Palmer-McIlroy should be a delight.
T3. Rory McIlroy, Sung Kang, Harry Higgs, Cameron Champ (-9): A concerning number for Rahm is that McIlroy, whose putting was much improved last season and ended as a top-30 putter on the PGA Tour, has made pretty much nothing the last two days and is currently 57th in putting. Another concerning number is that McIlroy had legit eagle looks at each of the last three par-5s.
T7. Patrick Reed, Marc Leishman, Tony Finau, Tyler McCumber, Sebastian Cappelen, J.B. Holmes, Brandt Snedeker (-8): Of this group, Reed and Finau have the most juice. Strangely, Finau played better on the South Course on Saturday (68) than he did on the North Course on Friday (70). Reed made five pars en route to a 3-under 69 on Saturday. Complete rollercoaster.
T14. Tiger Woods, Tom Hoge, Mark Anderson, Bubba Watson (-7): I can't believe we've gotten this far and not talked about Woods. He probably should have birdied the 18th on Saturday and have been within four of the lead, but here we are. It'll take something wild -- like an 8-under 64 -- for him to even have a chance. But if he hits it on the front nine again like he did on Saturday -- where he gained nearly 2 strokes from tee to green -- that number is definitely in play.