2023 Tournament of Champions scores, grades: Jon Rahm's Herculean final round ends in stunning win
Rahm went on a heater in the final round at at Kapalua to overtake Collin Morikawa
The 2023 Tournament of Champions looked to be Collin Morikawa's to lose for the first 67 holes. In complete control of his game and holding a six-stroke lead heading into Sunday, the rest of the field was simply playing for second place. Everyone except for Jon Rahm, that is. Seeing his name drop as many as nine strokes behind Morikawa's, the Spaniard kept his head down and went to work. The result? He totaled 27 under and was rewarded with a two-stroke victory at the Plantation Course at Kapalua.
Beginning his final round with a bogey, the former world No. 1 fell to 16 under and appeared to be on the cusp of nice finish, but certainly not a memorable one. A birdie on his second hole immediately put Rahm back to even par on the day, and four additional par breakers on his outward half saw him reach 21 under for the tournament.
"If you told me at the beginning of the round after that bogey that I was going to do what I did and have a three-shot lead after finishing, I don't know if I would've believed you," said Rahm." But at that point, it's not like winning is really in mind. You just have to get to work and start making birdies and that's what I did. That stretch of four through six, making those three birdies, birdieing nine allowed me to get into a rhythm and the stretch of 12 through 15 was very important as well."
A birdie on the 12th put Rahm within five of Morikawa and in with a chance to pull off a stunner. Two more birdies on 13 and 14 put him within three. With Morikawa still needing to play the more accessible holes on the back nine, on paper, this Herculean effort from Rahm was another performance at Kapalua which would come up short.
Coming into the week with five top-10 finishes in as many starts at the Tournament of Champions, Rahm has experienced his fair share of close calls at this event. Shooting 33 under at this tournament a year ago, a record-setting performance from Cameron Smith was the only thing that stood in between Rahm and his first victory at Kapalua.
There would be none of that this season as an emphatic eagle on the par-5 15th propelled Rahm to 26 under. At that same time, Morikawa began to show cracks with his newly revamped chipping and putting reverting back to their troubled selves. A bladed bunker shot on the drivable par-4 14th led to his first bogey of the championship before more short-game woes occurred on 15 and 16 with bogeys following.
"So 15 is when it truly became a reality when I had that putt to get within one shot and knowing how good I was playing 16 and 18 are good birdie options," said Rahm. "When that putt went in and then on 17 I couldn't believe it when I missed the green right we had a one-shot lead and everything changed. It took quite an effort to settle myself down and change my mindset ... it was a bit of a rollercoaster five minutes there."
A birdie on the closing hole put the finishing touches on a stellar 10-under 63 in which Rahm played his final 17 holes in 11 under. Going 27 under on the week and now 60 under at the Plantation Course over his last eight rounds, the consistent greatness from the former world No. 1 was finally enough to bag him a much deserved, and perhaps overdue, trophy in Hawaii. Grade: A+
Here is a breakdown of the rest of the leaderboard at the 2023 Tournament of Champions
2. Collin Morikawa (-25): As impressive as Rahm's victory was, Morikawa losing was equally stunning. Through the first 67 holes of this event, Morikawa played them in 27 under with no bogeys; he then played holes 68-70 in 3 over with three bogeys. It would be inexplicable if not for how many times we've seen this play out in golf. Sundays with a lead on the back nine of an event are very different than Thursdays and Fridays, and Morikawa hit some shots that can only be explained by a mental deterioration that is not uncommon even to the best players in the world. Morikawa won't care given the fact that he blew what was at one point a nine-stroke lead to Rahm, but his putter was magic this week, and he gained nearly 1.3 strokes on the field. If that continues to happen, he's going to win a ton in 2023. He's now finished in the top two in seven of the nine events in which he's gained at least 1.0 strokes with the putter, but likely not in the position he thought he was going to this week. Grade: A-
5. Tom Kim (-22): Hand up, I was impressed. I came into the year questioning his skillset, but he led the field in strokes gained tee to green and continues to raise his game on every tour and at every turn. There are still a lot of unknowns with Kim, which is part of what makes him interesting. If he continues to strike the golf ball like he has over his first nine months of PGA Tour golf, however, then he's going to have a lot of success even if he's not prolific off the tee. Grade: A
T13. Jordan Spieth (-19): After playing the first two rounds in 13 under, Spieth played the last two in just 6 under and completely took himself out of the tournament with what he said were "bad decisions."
"Obviously after Friday I would have liked a better weekend," said Spieth. "I made a lot of really, really bad decisions on the weekend. It wasn't any less, it wasn't any more or less on execution than the first two days. I made seven of 'em yesterday and at least four or five today. Very unlike me for a weekend. Which could maybe just go in a little bit of just contending and a little bit of rust. I really haven't played in the last few groups on a weekend since, I mean, shoot, going back more than six months."
Spieth didn't hit the ball all that well on the weekend -- perhaps some of it because of those bad decisions -- but he still finished in the top 15 in tee-to-green play among the best tee-to-green players in the world. He'll play the Sony next week in Honolulu, which he said will be a huge shift from Kapalua. Given how bullish as I am on his year, I'm very curious to see how he fares on a wildly different golf course than this one (and possibly one that suits his skillset even better). Grade: B+
WD. Xander Schauffele: It was a bummer to see Schauffele with an early exit in Hawaii, especially coming in off the year he had last year. His reasoning, though? Well, it made me chuckle. Grade: I
Jon Rahm ends with a birdie, likely to win
That was insane. Jon Rahm ends with a birdie and reaches 27 under. Now 60 under over his last eight rounds, Rahm signed for a 10-under 63 on Sunday and holds a three-stroke lead over Collin Morikawa who is on the 18th hole. He will need to make a two on the par-5 18th to force a playoff.
Morikawa has now bogeyed three holes in a row and trails Rahm by two going into the last two holes. Rahm is now the -6000 favorite. Morikawa legit might need to go birdie-eagle just to get in a playoff.
This is absolutely crazy.
Another bogey from Morikawa...
Wow, wow, wow. Just like that Jon Rahm is in the lead by himself at 26 under. After being greenside in two, Morikawa chunked his pitch shot and was then unable to get up-and-down for par on the par-5 15th. A flawless 65 holes has been ruined quite quickly as he stands at 25 under with just three holes to play. As for the odds, Caesars has Rahm at -450 and Morikawa at +320.
Things are moving quickly
Morikawa and Rahm are tied after Rahm eagles No. 15 and Morikawa skulls one out of the bunker on No. 14. Incredible sequence, and a three-shot swing means this thing is going to be awesome over the next hour.
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