Power makes FedExCup leap as Rahm goes to world No 2

Power makes FedExCup leap as Rahm goes to world No 2
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Seamus Power produced a clinical putting performance to clinch his best PGA Tour finish for six months as Jon Rahm rose to world No 2 by beating Andrew Landry with a birdie on the fourth extra hole in Career Builder Challenge in California.

The West Waterford star (30) retained his card by the skin of his teeth via the Web.com Tour Playoffs last year after recording just one FedExCup-boosting top-10 all season.

“It would be nice to get to 400 FedExCup points by the summer this year,” Power said at the end of last season. “That’s the goal.” 

After missing three of his first six cuts this term to lie 134th in the standings, he needed a decent result to ease the pressure on his shoulders.

And he did that at PGA West’s Stadium Course in Palm Springs last night, chipping in once and holing six putts between six and 20 feet in two-under 70 to share 11th place.

 Seamus Power

Seamus Power

Far from his best from tee to green, he was second for scrambling and strokes gained putting and made a big move to  90th in the FedExCup table, picking up a cheque for $135,700.

While the three-time former Irish Youths champion was seeking a maiden PGA win in just his 32nd career start, he's already got 110 points on the board ahead of this week's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where Tiger Woods, Pádraig Harrington and Shane Lowry will start the season.

Just four shots behind overnight leader Austin Cook after rounds of 66 and 65 on Friday and Saturday —  making 13 birdies in 22 holes at one stage — he was looking for another round in the mid-sixties to challenge for victory and a Masters invitation.

But while he missed out on that, he made up for his mistakes from tee to green with an impressive putting performance that bodes well for the rest of the West Coast Swing.

After holing six-footers for par at the first and third and 11 footers at the fourth and sixth, he rattled in a 20 footer for birdie at the seventh and chipped in for par from short of the ninth green before making another ten footer for par at the 10th. 

The Stadium Course is a treacherous test and having kept bogeys off his card thanks to his prowess with the blade, he birdied the 12th from eight feet to get to within three of the lead on 17-under par.

Wayward off the tee, he had to make a 20-footer for par at the 15th, then failed to get up and down for birdie at the par-five 16th.

Solid pars to finish meant for a satisfying week for Power as Cook fell away after a 75 as Rahm shot 67 to set the target at 22-under.

Andrew Landry then birdied the 18th from 32 feet for a 68 to force a playoff and after Rahm missed a nine footer for victory on their return to the finishing hole, Landry missed from eight feet the second time around.

They both parred the 10th from long range and with light fading on their return to the 18th, Rahm hit his approach to 12 feet from the right rough and made the birdie putt.

Landry could not match him and the Spaniard was thrilled to get his second PGA Tour win in just 38 starts and move to world No 2 behind Dustin Johnson, the man who forced him to settle for second in the season-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions, ahead of his defence of the Farmers Insurance Open this week.

"You dream of doing those things, you want to do them, you believe in yourself, but to get to where only Seve, Ollie and Sergio have gotten, coming out of Spain, and now me, at the age of 23 it's, to me it's beyond belief," said Rahm, who also won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on the European Tour last year and it now ranked ahead of Jordan Spieth.

"It's a huge accomplishment not only for me but for Spain."

"It's hard to believe, to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth, three-time Major champion, I only have two wins, he's got 10 plus, right? It's, again, I said it many times, I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now, especially the way I won both victories, it couldn't be any more different than the other."

His goal will be to get to No 1 in the world and win majors but asked about going to the top of the FedExCup standings, he added: "So far I've only lost against Superman [Johnson] this year. But it's such a long year, we have, what is it, 30 plus events left, Major Championships, World Golf Championships.

"I would love to stay in this position at least and all the way throughout the year, but things are going to move around and you got to play good golf, but I'm just happy to be where I am this early in the year.

"I got to experience that last year and I got that feeling of relaxation knowing that I was up there for a long time and same thing this year, to get it done this early, it's an incredible feeling."

If he thought Woods would take some of the pressure of his shoulders heading to Torrey Pines next week, he was only half right.

"I hoped it was going to be on Tiger the whole week and leave me a little bit alone, even though I was defending champion," he said.

"But for sure this is going to carry a little bit of attention, but in the end I love Torrey Pines and I had a great week and hopefully I can carry the ball striking over and repeat."