Farmers Insurance Open final round preview: Jon Rahm digs deep and is feeling US Open vibes

The World No. 1 made early back nine errors in the third round before fighting back, but he now trails Will Zalatoris and Jason Day.

Dropping three shots right after the turn was not part of the Jon Rahm plan in round three of the Farmers Insurance Open.

The Spaniard had played the front nine nicely enough, but he was also now dealing with inspired Moving Day charges from Will Zalatoris and Jason Day.

The errors happened and a big scrap to the line followed for the world's top ranked player, one that did just about what he needed: it allowed him to card an even-par 72 which left him tied second alongside Aaron Rai heading into the final round.

Zalatoris (65) and Day (67) had stolen a march, but they remain in touch with 18 holes to play, leading on 14-under 202, just one blow ahead of the Spaniard and Englishman.

Immediately after the round Rahm was bullish. "I played great," he said. "I feel like I played a lot better than the score shows. There was only two holes where I struggled and probably gave a couple too many back.

"It happens at Torrey Pines. Some funky stuff late in the afternoon on these Poa greens. I grew up on greens like this so I know them. I got mad, I got frustrated, but I never lost hope."

He was also quick to remind himself of how he had overcome similar difficulties in the past.

"I feel a little bit like I did at the US Open, right? That third round wasn't my best. I think I finished one over par and I was happy because it was a US Open, but I know it could have been better.

"I knew that if things start clicking, Sunday round's could be good and I feel the same way now.

"Sometimes it's one swing, one shot, one moment that tips the scales towards me. Hopefully I can get off to a good start like I did today, maybe make a couple putts and who knows what can happen?"

Let's take a closer look at the leading contenders ahead of Saturday's final round.

Torrey Pines trends

The period from 1999 to 2008 was a little skewed in terms of how the winners converted the win because Tiger Woods was often that man. Throw in two wins for Phil Mickelson and you've got a lot of wins knocked off by legends of the game who knew how to snaffle an opportunity.

If we look at the last 14 winners at the course (including the US Open last year), no less than eight were at least three shots back at this stage (and eight were also outside the top four). Only three were holding or sharing the lead.

Eventual winners here rarely lack an excellent course record.

Will Zalatoris - co-leader on 14-under

A first PGA Tour 54 hole lead, but he was 1-for-2 at making the most of them on the second tier. He was tied sixth last week, tied seventh here last year and he likes Major Championship venues - he made three top 10s in the Majors last year.

He was sensational in the third round, gaining over six strokes on the greens and over three with his approaches. That's superb, but will be tough to maintain.

"I love this golf course," he said. "This is the first start that I ever had on the PGA Tour as a professional, a lot of great vibes here. It's by far one of the best golf courses that suits my game. Just keep enjoying it and whatever happens, happens."

Jason Day - co-leader on 14-under

A welcome return to form for the Aussie whose T49th last week in The American Express was his best result since early July last year. He is a mighty fine Torrey Pines performer, however. In fact a two-time winner.

He also boasts one of the finest career records with a 54 hole lead: he's 9-for-18 at landing the win. On the PGA Tour he is 8-for-15. And he's won six of his last eight chances.

That's all the good news. The bad is that he hasn't won since 2018. Yet he insisted afterwards: "I've been close for a long time. It's been a long two-and-a-bit years not really being in contention, but overall I'm pretty pleased with how things are progressing swing-wise, body-wise."

Jon Rahm - sharing second on 13-under

His post-round chatter was interesting. He was fairly chipper and immediately thinking of how he had won from a similar position. It's a route to success that he has used in the past - he likes feeding off history.

Nor did he only find a good final round when winning the US Open. His debut win in this event also witnessed a gutsy last lap. Three of his 13 career wins have come with solo leads, but the other 10 were when tied at the top or on the shoulder of leaders so being in a scrap is not a position that fazes him, and chasers perform well here.

Aaron Rai - sharing second on 13-under

The English two-time winner on the European Tour is a rookie in America this season. He missed three cuts to start with but has since made five cuts in six. There are three top 20s in that run. He's a dogged character with a double opportunity in the final round: a win would be life- and career-changing; a top five would go a long, long way to retaining his card. A win would make him the only the second course rookie to triumph in the 21st century after Rahm in 2017.

The chasers

Tringale has finished fourth in the tournament, albeit way back in 2012, but this is his 317th start on the tour and he's still looking for a win. He's contended a lot in the last eight months, but it's a weakness in his case.

Im (no Torrey top 30 in four starts) and Thomas (a best of T10th in three visits) lack the course quality most winners have in their locker.

Conclusion

He might have stumbled and he has looked ratty at times, almost as if he's forcing everything too much rather than letting it happen, but this remains a great opportunity for Rahm to land a third win at Torrey Pines.

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