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AP photo by Eduardo Verdugo / Jon Rahm holds up his son Kepa as he celebrates his victory at the Mexico Open on Sunday.

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico — Jon Rahm could have done without the stress he faced over the final two hours in the Mexico Open. It still was worth it to pick up his first victory since the U.S. Open last summer.

Rahm rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14th hole to pull out of a four-way tie for the lead, and he had to make two tough pars and a finish more nervy than he expected.

The relief and satisfaction were evident when he tapped in for par on the final hole at Vidanta Vallarta for a one-shot victory. The 27-year-old Spaniard pumped his arm and then pounded his fist downward, and at one point he looked skyward and exhaled.

"Today was a battle," said Rahm, who earned the seventh win of his PGA Tour career, matching his total on the European circuit. "But I got it done."

Rahm finished at 17-under 267. Tony Finau and Brandon Wu each closed with a 63, and Kurt Kitayama birdied the final hole from a back bunker for a 68 to join them in the tie for second. Davis Riley, the 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie and former University of Alabama standout, was fifth at 15 under after closing with a 68.

Chattanooga's Stephan Jaeger tied for 15th at 10 under in his best finish since returning to the PGA Tour for the 2021-22 season. The former Baylor School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga standout had missed four straight cuts before teaming with Joel Dahmen to finish tied for 29th at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last week, and a tie for 20th at the Bermuda Championship in October had been his best result this season until Sunday.

Jaeger closed with a 70 and a flourish at the Mexico Open, making an eagle on the par-5 final hole, but he did his best work Saturday, when his 64 included back-to-back eagles on the par-5 sixth and par-4 seventh holes.

Rahm had a couple of close calls in Mexico City when it was a World Golf Championship at Chapultepec. Now the Mexico Open, which has a history dating to 1944, is a regular PGA Tour event for the first time — and it got a popular winner.

At No. 2, Rahm was the only player from the top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking in the field, making him a heavy favorite — and he played that way from his opening 64, even if he did rate it "a pretty stressful weekend, all the way to the end."

Staked to a two-shot lead going into the final round, he never trailed, but it was never easy.

"It wasn't my best putting weekend, but I stayed aggressive," he said. "I was confident in what I was doing. I have faith in every part of my game, and it showed."

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AP photo by Eduardo Verdugo / Jon Rahm celebrates after tapping in for par at the final hole of the Mexico Open, his first victory since winning the U.S. Open last summer.

Strong at the finish

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Steven Alker returned from a two-hour rain delay by playing a six-hole stretch in 6 under on the back nine to race past Steve Stricker, close with a 6-under 66 and win the Insperity Invitational for his second victory this year on the PGA Tour Champions.

Alker had to make a pair of tough par saves to close out the front nine at the Woodlands and stay one shot ahead of Stricker, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain who was playing for the first time in six months after an illness that required hospitalization and led to him losing 25 pounds.

Alker birdied three straight holes starting at No. 11, and then the 50-year-old from New Zealand effectively put the tournament away by rolling in an eagle putt on the par-5 15th to build a four-shot lead.

Stricker and Brandt Jobe each shot a 70 and tied for second, four shots behind. Alker finished at 18-under 198.

Alker won the Rapiscan Systems Classic in early April, and he was poised to make it two straight wins until he lost in a playoff by hitting into the water at the ClubCorp Classic last weekend. He bounced right back for Sunday's triumph — his third title on the 50-and-older tour, with his first at the TimberTech Championship in November.

 

Alex wins Palos Verdes

PALOS VERDES ESTATES, Calif. — Marina Alex won the Palos Verdes Championship for her second LPGA Tour title, breaking a tie with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 16th and parring the final two holes for a one-stroke victory over South Korea's Jin Young Ko.

Three strokes behind Australia's Hannah Green entering the round, Alex closed with a 5-under 66 to finish at 10-under 274 at hilly and windy Palos Verdes Golf Club.

The top-ranked Ko also shot a 66. She finished about an hour before Alex in the first-year event that wrapped up the LPGA Tour's two-week stay in the Los Angeles area stay and closed out a five-tournament West Coast swing.

Alex bogeyed the par-4 third, then birdied the par-4 fifth, par-5 seventh and par-4 eighth. She added birdies on the par-3 11th and par-12th and two-putted from 40 feet on 16 to take the outright lead.

The 31-year-old from Wayne, New Jersey, also won the 2018 Portland Classic. She tied for 10th a week earlier at Whilshire Country Club in the L.A. Open.

Third-ranked Lydia Ko (70) of Australia and Megan Khang (68) tied for third at 8 under. Green shot her second straight 72 to drop into a tie for fifth at 7 under with Ryann O'Toole (68), Andrea Lee (69) and Annie Park (69).

 

Epic playoff victory

GIRONA, Spain — Spain's Adri Arnaus won a dramatic playoff to beat South Africa's Oliver Bekker at the Catalunya Championship and secure his first victory on the DP World Tour.

Arnaus, who is from nearby Barcelona, trailed overnight leader Bekker by seven shots at the start of the day, but he carded a final round of 7-under 65 to pull level. In contrast to Becker's 72, Arnaus' fourth round included five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 12th.

In the playoff, Arnaus and Becker made par on five trips to the 18th hole, but when they went to the 17th, Bekker's bogey gave Arnaus the title. Bekker was also seeking his first tour win.

The 27-year-old Arnaus had previously finished runner-up five times on the European circuit. It was his third playoff in a span of seven months.

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