2022 Mexico Open leaderboard, grades: Jon Rahm goes wire-to-wire for much-needed victory at Vidanta

After 315 days, Jon Rahm is officially back in the winner's circle. Held without a trophy since the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines last June, the former world No. 1 will look to his victory at the Mexico Open as a possible springboard for the upcoming summer filled with major championships.

It wasn't pretty at times, as Rahm let numerous chances fall by the wayside, but the accomplishment of victory is nevertheless encouraging. The Spaniard understands the importance of winning, and despite coming into this week as the overwhelming favorite, the fact he was able to live up to these expectations speaks volumes.

Winning on the PGA Tour is hard -- just ask Cameron Tringale --  but winning when everyone in the golf world expects you to is near impossible. Tiger Woods was the best to ever do this, and while I am surely not comparing the two, leading wire-to-wire without his best stuff makes Rahm's seventh title on the PGA Tour all the more impressive.

Don't get me wrong, there are still flaws in the current state of Rahm's game. His short game can get away from him, his temper can run hot, and because of this, the 27-year-old was unable to separate himself from the field when opportunity knocked on Sunday. Let me remind you: this is Kurt Kitayama and Brandon Wu we are talking about -- not Scottie Scheffler, not Collin Morikawa and not Patrick Cantlay. 

While such a performance will not translate to raising the Wanamaker Trophy in two weeks' time at the PGA Championship, it is a step in the right direction. Major season is all about peaking -- you hear players talk about it ad nauseum -- and most of the time we assume they mean physically, honing in on various aspects of their games or practicing specific shots needed for a major championship test.

Rahm has a long way to go in terms of sharpness with his short game, but in between the ears, he may be closer than it appears. The past 11 months have been unbelievably frustrating for Rahm, and as time has passed, we have seen it wear on him.

From his comments at The American Express to his responses to questions about his putting woes, a weight has now been lifted from his shoulders. A fully in-sync Rahm has always been a dangerous prospect for the competition, but rarely have we seen him at ease. And if he truly has shed the baggage of the past year, he becomes all the more lethal heading into the meat of the PGA Tour schedule. Grade: A-

Here are the rest of our grades for the 2022 Mexico Open.

T2. Tony Finau: It was a tale of two halves for Finau, as he was unable to find a comfort level on the greens during the first two rounds. Bleeding more than five strokes to the field with the putter through his initial 36 holes, it was encouraging to see the two-time winner keep his chin up and steady the ship with the putter over the weekend. Leading the field in strokes gained tee-to-green, he gave Rahm something to think about with a late Sunday charge before finishing in a tie for 2nd. Finau's final round of 8-under 63 gave him his first top-10 finish since his victory at Liberty National as he's struggled mightily in 2022. Set to play next week in our nation's capital, TPC Potomac may not be conducive for Finau's game, but he does make for an intriguing option at 35-1 for the PGA Championship. Grade: A-

T42. Patrick Reed: The former Masters champion has now gained strokes off the tee in back-to-back starts for the first time since last summer. Fans of Reed should be cautiously optimistic, as his wizardry around the green can still propel him into contention. That is what we saw the first two days in Mexico, and even though he played his final 36 holes in 3 over and fell off the eventual pace, his name was on the leaderboard over the weekend. That hasn't been the case for the nine-time PGA Tour winner in 2022, and could signal a slow-but-steady climb back to relevance. Grade: B-

T42. Abraham Ancer: He said he was "100 percent" earlier in the week, but admittedly, I was skeptical. The world No. 20 looked sluggish at times around Vidanta, but the sheer length of the golf course was always going to pose issues for a player like Ancer. Making the cut on the number, he was unable to garner any momentum and eventually finished in a tie for 42nd, sharing low Mexican honors with Alvaro Ortiz. It was a rather mundane result, but Ancer should have his ears perked up for the Wells Fargo Championship at TPC Potomac. A venue where accuracy is rewarded, the 31-year-old finished in a tie for 4th in the 2018 Quicken Loans National and should have a realistic opportunity to capture his second victory on the PGA Tour. Grade: C+

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@GOLFonCBS via Twitter
May 1, 2022, 10:26 PM
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@PGATOUR via Twitter
May 1, 2022, 10:17 PM
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Well, he made it interesting...

Finding an awkward lie in the rough off the tee, Rahm had to lay up on the par-5 18th. Still not quite on the putting surface, he lied three just off and was able to get up and down for his seventh title on the PGA Tour. Leading wire-to-wire, this has been a long time coming as Rahm had gone 11 months without a victory worldwide.

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@JustinRayGolf via Twitter
May 1, 2022, 9:46 PM
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Rahm finds the putting surface on the par-3 17th

The one remaining shot which could have tripped him up, Jon Rahm has found the putting surface with his tee shot on the dangerous par-3 17th. With the easy closing hole looming, if able to get out of here with at least a par, he should be able to stroll down 18 as he holds a one stroke edge over Finau and Wu in the clubhouse and two over his playing competitor, Kitayama.

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@GOLFonCBS via Twitter
May 1, 2022, 9:38 PM
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Rahm regains the lead with a birdie on the par-5 14th

There was a point where four players were tied at the top as Tony Finau matched Brandon Wu's clubhouse lead at 16 under. They will wait anxiously, but with Rahm's birdie on the par-5 14th, the duo will likely come up short as the lead has been pushed to 17 under. Rahm's closest pursuers on the course are Davis Riley and Kurt Kitayama at 15 under as they head into a difficult stretch of Vidanta.

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@PGATOUR via Twitter
May 1, 2022, 8:50 PM
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Wu sets the clubhouse lead at 16 under

Unable to take advantage of the easy par-5 18th, Brandon Wu settled for a final round of 8 under 63. Setting the competitive course record at Vidanta Vallarta, the Stanford product will likely fall just short of his first career title on the PGA Tour as Rahm and Kitayama are still on the course at 16 under. This marks yet another strong outing for Wu in a tropical location as he finished in a tie for third at the Puerto Rico Open in early March.

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Rahm is joined by two others at 16 under

There are now three tied at the top as Brendon Wu and Kurt Kitayama have caught Jon Rahm. The Spaniard has let consecutive chances fall by the wayside and to make matters worse, the leaderboard is beginning to bunch up. Things have officially gotten interesting as the final group heads to the par-3 13th.

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Finau lurking

After converting an eagle opportunity from just inside 60 feet on the par-5 14th, Tony Finau backed it up with yet another par breaker on the following hole. Now 7 under for the day and 15 under for the tournament, he's only one stroke off Rahm's lead. The final stretch can play difficult, but if able to get to 17 under, he may have an outside chance to steal this.

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@PGATOUR via Twitter
May 1, 2022, 8:07 PM
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