What to watch as the PGA Tour moves to Torrey Pines

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Jon Rahm will attempt to become the first PGA Tour player to win in three consecutive starts since 2017 when he tees it up on Wednesday at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines outside San Diego.

How rare would his feat be?

According to Justin Ray, head of content for Twenty First Group, a player has won three straight PGA Tour starts 18 times since 1997 — and Tiger Woods did it in all but four of those instances.

Rahm, who started the season with wins at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and The American Express, would be the first player to win in three consecutive PGA Tour starts since Dustin Johnson did it at the Genesis Open, WGC-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in early 2017. Rory McIlroy did it in 2014 and Woods last did it in 2008.

According to Ray’s research, Woods won 58.3% of the time when he had a chance to win his third straight start. Everyone else had a 10.5% success rate.

Here’s what’s happening in men’s professional golf this week:

What’s next on the PGA Tour

Farmers Insurance Open

When: Wednesday-Saturday

Where: Torrey Pines, La Jolla, California

Defending champion: Luke List

Purse: $8.7 million

Three storylines to watch:

Rahm’s trifecta try: Rahm should have a good opportunity to three-peat at Torrey Pines, which is one of his favorite courses in the world. He won the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open and the 2021 U.S. Open, his lone major championship victory, at Torrey Pines.

In 24 career rounds at Torrey Pines, Rahm has a scoring average of 69.29. That’s second-best among players with at least 10 rounds since 1968. Woods had a 69.28 average in 69 career rounds. Woods won the event seven times, as well as the 2008 U.S. Open, played at Torrey Pines.

“I feel really healthy and I feel really comfortable in my swing,” Rahm said. “So, I’m going to go to Torrey, a place that I’m already very confident at, with very high hopes, knowing that I’m doing all the right things.

“If I can keep hitting it off the tee and my iron game keeps staying at this level I’m going to have a really good chance at that golf course. So I can’t help to smile because, again, it’s a very, very emotional week every time I go, in a very good way. It’s a very special place in my heart.”

How good has Rahm been so far this year? He leads the PGA Tour in greens in regulation (81.02%), birdie average (6.67), scoring average (68.889), par-4 scoring average (3.76) and shots gained: off the tee (1.071).

Rahm has been pretty good in PGA Tour events played in California, too.

Early tee times: For the second year in a row, the Farmers Insurance Open will be played from Wednesday to Saturday to avoid TV competition with the NFL’s conference championship games on Sunday. It’s the only event on the PGA Tour schedule that has a Saturday finish. Rounds 3 and 4 will be broadcast in prime time on the East Coast.

The field includes Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas, Max Homa and Will Zalatoris, so there’s plenty of star power at Torrey Pines. In fact, five of the top 10 players in the OWGR and 13 of the top 50 are there.

Hello, again: There will undoubtedly be jokes about the PGA Tour moving up the start of the Farmers Insurance Open a day to make sure they get all four rounds completed with J.B. Holmes in the field. Holmes, 40, isn’t exactly known for his fast play.

Still, it’s good to see Holmes back on tour after dealing with a back injury for much of the past two seasons. He is competing on a major medical exemption and has 26 starts available to earn 288.816 FedEx Cup points to keep his tour card. Earlier in Holmes’ career, he battled back from two brain surgeries to win three of his five career victories on tour.

It will be Holmes’ first PGA Tour start since he missed the cut at the Fortinet Championship in September 2021. He hasn’t finished in the top 10 of a Tour event since winning the 2019 Genesis Invitational. About five months after winning at Riviera, Holmes shared the 36-hole lead with eventual champion Shane Lowry in the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush. Holmes was 6 shots back going into the final round and carded a 16-over 87 in driving rain. He finished in a tie for 67th. Holmes has just one top-15 finish in 31 starts after that.

Lanto Griffin, who won the 2019 Houston Open, is also scheduled to make his first start since undergoing back surgery after the John Deere Classic in July. He tied for 66th at the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour last week.

LIV Golf wants Augusta National documents

The latest discovery dispute between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour involves communications between the PGA Tour’s independent directors and former commissioner Tim Finchem and employees and members of Augusta National Golf Club.

According to a court filing on Monday, LIV Golf’s lawyers are seeking communication between the involved parties “relating to a New Tour, including but not limited to LIV Golf.”

The subpoenaed persons have agreed to provide their communications with four Augusta National employees and seven members, including chairman Fred Ridley. But LIV’s lawyers want to expand discovery to include Augusta National members Jimmy Dunne, Condolezza Rice, Billy Payne and others.

“A central component of the Tour’s scheme to foreclose competition from LIV was to threaten golfers, other tours, vendors, broadcasters, sponsors and virtually any other third parties if they did business with LIV,” LIV Golf’s lawyers wrote in a joint statement filed to the court. “Discovery has shown that the Tour delivered these threats not only through its own executives and employees, but by dispatching other influential persons on its behalf.”

In the same court filing, an attorney for PGA Tour policy board independent director Mary Meeker called LIV Golf’s attempt a “fishing expedition for communications with individuals that LIV considers ‘America’s most powerful people,’ but otherwise have no relevance to the issue in dispute.”

“LIV contends — incorrectly — that the TOUR has ‘leaned on’ or pressured Augusta National to block LIV golfers from the Masters,” Meeker’s attorney wrote. “According to Plaintiffs, the TOUR and Augusta National aligned in response to LIV, which seed[ed] doubt among top professional golfers whether they would be banned from future Masters Tournaments.’ This theory is entirely baseless as demonstrated by the fact that the Masters has allowed LIV golfers to compete in the 2023 tournament.”

On Dec. 20, Augusta National announced that any golfer who qualified for the Masters based on its previous criteria will be invited to play in April, including 16 players competing in the LIV Golf League.

Garcia drops out of DP World Tour dispute

DP World Tour communications director Scott Crockett told reporters in Dubai this week that LIV Golf players Sergio Garcia, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel have removed themselves as appellants in an upcoming arbitration hearing, which will decide whether the DP World Tour can suspend them for competing in conflicting LIV Golf events.

Thirteen LIV Golf players, including longtime Ryder Cup participants Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood and 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, remain appellants in the case. The hearing in front of a three-person panel convened by the Sports Resolutions Arbitration and Media Centre in London is scheduled to begin on Feb. 6.

A decision isn’t expected for several weeks after the hearing. Either side can appeal the ruling as well.

“The result is whatever the result is,” DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley told reporters in Dubai. “I think it’s an important moment for our tour and to protect our tour and for our members at all different levels.”

Baby photo!

Joel Dahmen withdrew from last week’s American Express. He and his wife, Lona, welcomed their first child to the world. Their son, Riggs, was born at 11:26 a.m. ET on Thursday. Where’s his bucket hat?

Hey, remember me?

World No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy is playing for the first time this year at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

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