La Quinta, Calif. — Jon Rahm beat Andrew Landry with a 12-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole of a playoff Sunday in the CareerBuilder Challenge.
In fading light on the Stadium Course at PGA West, Rahm finished off Landry for his second PGA Tour title and fourth worldwide victory in a year.
Rahm, a 23-year-old Spaniard, will jump from third to second in the world ranking behind Dustin Johnson.
“It’s hard to believe, to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth, three-time major champion,” Rahm said. “I only have two wins and he’s got 10-plus, right? I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”
Rahm overcame surprising par-5 problems in regulation to shoot 5-under 67. Landry, playing a group behind Rahm in the final threesome, forced the playoff with an 11-foot birdie putt on the water-guarded 18th for a 68. They finished at 22-under 266.
“Tournaments like this build character,” Rahm said. “I’m just proud of myself to hit what’s probably my least favorite club, which is the 3-wood, three times in a row dead center on my line on 18 — four times if you include the regular play.
“To be honest, really happy the way it happened the way it did and really proud of the way I played. I hit a lot of bad putts today, hit a lot of edges, but lucky the one I needed to make went in.”
After Rahm made his birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole, Landry missed an 11-footer.
“This was a weird pin location,” Landry said. “I felt like it was hard for those balls to break and I read it perfectly the first time and the next two times we had the exact same yardage, exact same putt right there, so just hit it a little too firm and tried to take some of the break out and it actually just kind of stayed high.”
Rahm and Landry each missed chances to win on the first two extra trips down 18. Rahm’s 9-foot birdie try slid left on the first, and Landry’s 8-footer went by to the right on the second.
They missed long birdie tries on the third extra hole, the par-4 10th.
Rahm parred the four par 5s on Sunday, with the Pete Dye-designed layout playing tougher with many pin positions on the edges of greens, after going 13 under on 12 par 5s in the first three rounds with an eagle and 11 birdies.
“It’s been a fighting day,” Rahm said. “I’ve been a ball-striking clinic most of the week and in the playoff I was just not making the putts. I just got fortunate that none of us really made any and I was able to make the one that mattered.
But then again, it was really supreme ball-striking on my part today. Especially, on the back nine, I hit the ball as good as I can.”
Rahm started the week with a career-best 62 at La Quinta Country Club, shot 67 on Friday on the Nicklaus Course and had a 70 at the Stadium on Saturday.
Rahm, a former Arizona State star, was second behind Johnson two weeks ago at Kapalua in his first start since winning the European Tour’s season-ending event in Dubai in November. Rahm will open his Torrey Pines title defense Thursday in San Diego.
The 30-year-old Landry had his best career PGA Tour finish and third top-three finish of the season.
“I’ve been playing well all year, had a great season last year and I’m rolling it over right into this, into the fall and now starting the year out,” Landry said.
“Second-place finish, we’ll take it and move on next week to Torrey Pines.”
Adam Hadwin (68), Martin Piller (70) and John Huh (66) tied for third at 20 under, and Kevin Chappell (67) and Scott Piercy (70) were another stroke back.
Third-round leader Austin Cook had a 75 to tie for 14th at 16 under.
“Ball-striking just kind of disappeared today,” Cook said.
Tommy Fleetwood successfully defended his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title on Sunday after a sensational back nine to clinch the win.
Fleetwood, a 27-year-old Englishman who celebrated his birthday on Friday, started the final round two shots behind overnight leaders Ross Fisher and Thomas Pieters, and an indifferent front nine saw him make the turn five shots behind Fisher.
But Fleetwood then birdied the 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th and 18th holes for a seven-under par 65 round to finish on 22-under 267.
He caught up with Fisher on 20-under with a 25-feet birdie putt on the 15th hole, and then powered ahead with a putt twice as long on the next hole.
Rory McIlroy (70), making a comeback to tournament golf after nearly 100 days off, was tied third at 18 under alongside Matthew Fitzpatrick (69).
Top ranked Dustin Johnson shot a final-round 70 to finish on 14 under.