LA QUINTA, CA – JANUARY 21: Jon Rahm of Spain plays his shot from the sixth tee during the final round of the CareerBuilder Challenge at the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West on January 21, 2018, in La Quinta, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
By E. Michael Johnson
Jon Rahm, after an up-and-down third round on the Stadium Course at PGA West, where he shot a two-under-par 70 despite four bogeys, played much steadier during a final-round 67. The Sunday showing put him in a playoff at the CareerBuilder Challenge with Andrew Landry, which he would win on the fourth extra hole to claim his second PGA Tour title.
Rahm had chances to close it out in regulation and again on the first playoff hole, but missed makable putts. He then won on the fourth playoff hole by rolling in a 12-footer for birdie. The putt capped a relatively strong day on the greens that saw Rahm post a .990 strokes gained/putting mark on the day with his TaylorMade Spider Tour Red putter.
Jumping to No. 2 in the world with the win, Rahm seemingly took control of the tournament with a 210-yard tee shot on the par-3 13th that settled two feet from the cup. He followed that up with a 68-yard lob wedge to four feet for another birdie at the 14th.
As usual, Rahm used his driver—TaylorMade’s new M4 model—as an effective weapon, averaging 309.8 yards off the tee. The club features the company’s Twist Face technology where the fast is slightly curved so that it is more open in the high toe area and slightly closed in the low heel area to promote better accuracy on mishits.
The shot Rahm hit on the 14th, however, proved critical. He pulled it off using TaylorMade’s new Milled Grind Hi-Toe wedge, a club that boasts more relief on the heel and toe along with weight removed from the back area. It all promotes a higher center of gravity to bring the ball flight down on the high-lofted club. The wedge also features grooves cut all the way across the face for an added spin on shots struck near the heel or toe. For Rahm, on that shot, whatever the spin, it was just the right amount.
What Jon Rahm had in the bag at the CareerBuilder Challenge
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (Aldila Tour Green 75TX), 9.5 degrees
5-wood: TaylorMade M3, 19 degrees
Irons (3): TaylorMade P790; (4-PW): TaylorMade P750
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees); TaylorMade Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red