(Reuters) - World number three Jon Rahm made an eagle from 110 yards en route to the third-round lead at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego on Saturday as Tiger Woods faded after a strong start.
Rahm shot the day’s best score, a seven-under-par 65, to surge to a one-shot advantage over American halfway leader Ryan Palmer (71) at Torrey Pines, where morning fog delayed the start of play by two hours.
Rory McIlroy, who with a win on Sunday would supplant Brooks Koepka as world number one, boosted his chances with a 67 that left him among a group equal third, three behind.
Woods, seeking a record 83rd PGA Tour victory, sent a proverbial bolt of electricity through the large gallery as he charged within striking distance of the lead with four front nine birdies.
But he struggled on the more difficult inward half and carded three-under-par 69 to end the day equal 14th, five strokes behind Rahm.
“Three-putted (hole) 11 and just never really got anything going coming home,” said Woods, who had to grind to avoid dropping a shot at the par-five 18th, where he sank a 15-foot putt to salvage par.
Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines and acknowledged he would need a special Sunday to make it number nine.
“Got to go out there and post a low one tomorrow, still got to make a bunch of birdies,” he said.
Leader Rahm, feeling good vibes on the course where he posted his first PGA Tour win three years ago, used his unique, powerful swing to run up five birdies and post a 12-under 204 total.
But it was the eagle at the par-four second that had the gallery most buzzing.
“Landed about four feet short, skipped up and landed in the hole,” said the Spaniard, who had chipped in for birdie at the first.
“Three-under through two holes, no putts, yeah, a pretty good start,” said Rahm.
“The MVP (most valuable player) of today would be my lob wedge. Especially those bunker shots, they weren’t easy and I made it look pretty easy.”
Second-placed Palmer partnered Rahm to win the New Orleans Classic team event last year, but on Sunday they will temporarily put their friendship aside.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Palmer said.
“Of course you’re rooting for him (in New Orleans) and trying to say, ‘hit it here’ and ‘hit it there’, so maybe tomorrow I’ll say, ‘hit over there’ instead.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Daniel Wallis/Peter Rutherford