“The one good thing I have going for me is we’re here to win, so (Monday) is a green light for everything,” he said. “Just got to be aggressive and hopefully pull the shots off and be able to make as many putts as possible.”
Ah, those putts. They refused to fall for much of the third round. Rahm’s body language mirrored his frustration, particularly after near misses at 12 and 16.
Then, finally, a birdie at No. 17. Rahm was able to look skyward and put his hands together as if praying and saying thanks to a higher power. On the 18th hole, he hit the approach to 10 feet and made the birdie putt.
“Those two shots were everything,” Rahm said. “I played this back nine so well today. From 11 on, I hit good shots, gave myself birdie chances on pretty much every hole, and they were all legitimate. They were all putts for the most part uphill, just good looks and I wasn’t able to make any of them.”
The 66 also helped rinse the bad taste left by Saturday’s finish. That’s where Rahm made a double-bogey after finding the water at No. 15, bogeyed the 16th hole and failed to birdie the 18th, which is almost like giving a shot to the field. The 74 was the highest of his career at East Lake.
“Yesterday didn’t feel that bad,” Rahm said. “I just got a little tight on the course, a little hesitant, and didn’t really commit to a lot of shots, therefore I wasn’t hitting it close enough to the hole.”
There was no hangover on Sunday. He made the turn in 2 under and completed his round without a bogey. He’ll likely need to duplicate — or improve on — the 66 to have a chance.
“Hopefully, I can play as good as I did today,” he said. “Maybe be a little more aggressive in certain areas and hole the putts. I wasn’t too far off today from a really low round. Just a couple putts dropping in and you never know.”