Hero World Challenge: Rampaging Rahm races away to four-stroke victory

Finao comes next with a final-hole birdie, pushes Rose to third; Tiger Woods avoids last-place finish

Tiger Woods and Hero MotoCorp Chairman Pawan Munjal with the winner of Hero World Challenge, Jon Rahm, in Nassau on Sunday.   -  Special Arrangement

For the past three days, Jon Rahm has been talking about how well he is striking the ball. On Friday, the World No. 8 fired a bogey-free 63 to get noticed. Needing to shoot a low score to be first among the three overnight leaders, Rahm reproduced the rampaging ball-striking for another flawless 65.

Eventually, they all added up for a dominating four-shot victory for the debutant Spaniard at 20-under 268 in the $3.5 million Hero World Challenge here on Sunday.

Beginning the final round tied with American Tony Finau and Swede Henrik Stenson at -13, Rahm shifted gears and raced away to -19 for a five-stroke lead and was never challenged.

Rahm shot the most number of birdies (25) and had the least number of bogies (3) this week. Importantly, in the last two days, he birdied the five par-5s on nine times.

At the rear, Tiger Woods erased four first-nine bogies with four back-nine birdies but missed a short par-putt on the 17th to settle for a 73. He avoided the last place that went to the 2016 winner Hideki Matsuyama, who carded a late double-bogey. With his struggling performance, the 13th ranked Tiger will end the year out of the top-10 bracket.

If the title-race turned out to the far  less exciting than what it promised this morning, it was mainly due to the three-shot swing in favour of eventual champion on the 14th hole where Finau double-bogeyed and Rahm fired a birdie.

READ -  Rahm: 'I owe a lot to Tiger Woods'

This enlarged Rahm’s lead from two to five strokes. The gap was reduced when Finau quietly rolled in a final-hole birdie — worth a whopping $75,000 — to finish runner-up, a stroke ahead of a resurgent Justin Rose, the World No. 2 producing a 25th top-10 finish in the last 32 events!

Rose jumped five places to be third by riding on an electric 65. Just when it looked Rose could finish runner-up and win back the World No. 1 spot from Brooks Koepka, Finau’s parting-birdie changed the script.

Rahm shot the most number of birdies (25) and had the least number of bogies (3) this week. Importantly, in the last two days, he birdied the five par-5s on nine times. Such was Rahm’s ball-striking that twice on the back-nine, he had tap-in birdies after almost nailing his ‘eagle’ putts.

ALSO READ -  Woods: 2018 the 'most rewarding season'

Finau, who moved into sole lead after successive birdies on the second and third, bogeyed the fourth to be tied at -14 with Rahm. He kept pace until -16 but dropped a shot on the eighth and slipped a stroke further when Rahm birdied the ninth for a two-shot lead at the turn. Thereafter, the 14th turned the tide completely in favour of Rahm.

Henrik, the other overnight leader, was always trying to catch up after his fourth-hole bogey undid the birdie on the third. Eventually, his two more bogeys on the back-nine gave him a 71, clearly not enough to challenge for the title.

Henrik’s slip coincided by the rise of Rose. Unlike the first three days, when the top seed did not make the most of the par-5s, he did better while playing the par-3s “unbelievably well, and astonishingly gained four shots - including an ‘eagle’ on the 15th - over the four holes.

The scores (Americans unless stated):
268 - Jon Rahm (Esp, 71, 63, 69, 65) ($1,000,000); 272 - Tony Finau (72, 64, 67, 69) ($400,000); 273 - Justin Rose (Eng, 70, 70, 68, 65) ($250,000); 274 - Henrik Stenson (Swe, 68, 66, 69, 71) ($175,000); 275 - Patrick Cantlay (65, 70, 76, 64), Rickie Fowler (72, 67, 67, 69) ($147,500 each); 276 - Dustin Johnson (68, 67, 72, 69) ($140,000); 277 - Alex Noren (69, 69, 70, 69), Xander Schauffele (73, 68, 66, 70), Gary Woodland (72, 66, 67, 72) ($126,000 each); 278 - Patrick Reed (65, 77, 66, 70) ($115,000); 280 - Bryson DeChambeau (70, 71, 71, 68), Justin Thomas (70, 70, 70, 70), Bubba Watson (69, 73, 69, 69) ($109,000 each); 282 - Keegan Bradley (71, 69, 72, 70) ($107,000); 283 - Jason Day (Aus, 71, 72, 70, 70) ($106,000); 287 - Tiger Woods (73, 69, 72, 73) ($105,000);  288 - Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn, 74, 68, 71, 75) ($100,000).
For more updates, follow Sportstar on :