Davis Thompson matches PGA Tour record for eagles en route to American Express lead

LA QUINTA, Cali. — Like most rookies, Davis Thompson doesn’t know everything about the PGA Tour in his first full year on the circuit. For instance, Thompson had no idea he had tied a tour record with five eagles in the first two rounds of The American Express.

“That’s pretty cool. I didn’t know,” said Thompson, who followed a two-eagle round Thursday with three eagles Friday on the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West. “I kind of thought about that a little bit after I made the putt on seven (for his third eagle of the day). But yeah, those are always nice. Able to get two for one. It’s pretty cool to have some putts drop and make some eagles.”

Thompson’s remarkable debut in the desert tournament, tying the tournament and PGA Tour record for eagles in two rounds, propelled the 23-year-old to an 18-under total and the lead for the second straight day. The five eagles also ties a tour record for 72 holes, accomplished six previous times, with the last time by Justin Rose at the 2022 RBC Canadian Open.

AMEX: Saturday tee times

But for all the fireworks in Thompson’s 8-under 64 on Friday and his 124 total for two rounds, the rookie hasn’t been able to shake world No. 4 Jon Rahm.

Rahm also shot 64 on the Nicklaus Course on Friday, though he did it without a single eagle or bogey, to reach 16-under 126 in a tournament he won in 2018. In that year, Rahm was 15-under through the first two rounds at La Quinta and the Nicklaus Course on the way to a playoff victory over Andrew Landry.

“Five eagles through two rounds on two different courses is pretty impressive,” Rahm said of Thompson’s play. “Now I wouldn’t expect to keep it going for the weekend because those par-5s on the Stadium Course are, well, that would be some serious thing to do, 10 eagles in four rounds. But, yeah, I mean, it’s good playing.”

Former world No. 1 Jason Day, looking for his second top-10 finish of the 2022-23 season after just two the entire previous season, fired a 64 on the Stadium Course at PGA West and is tied for third at 13 under with rising star Tom Kim, Sungjae Im, Tyler Duncan and J.T. Poston. Poston at one point had the lead Friday at 13 under but played the last six holes at the Stadium Course in even par for a 66. Kim shot the day’s best round, a 62, on the Nicklaus Course with eight birdies and one eagle. Im shot 66 on the Stadium Course and Duncan shot 67.

The last time anyone on the PGA Tour made five eagles in consecutive rounds was the 1995 American Express, when Scott McCarron had four eagles in one round and one the next day. In all, there were 13 eagles on the Nicklaus Course on Friday.

After a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday, Thompson’s round at the Nicklaus Course started slowly, even with a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 11th, his second hole of the day. Thompson played the next nine holes in 1-over par with two bogeys.

“After No. 2, I just told myself to stay patient and just keep giving myself looks and then I got on a run,” said Thompson, who played college golf at Georgia and has made the cut in 12 of 19 PGA Tour starts with one career top-10.

That run saw Thompson go 7 under on the next five holes, including a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 fourth hole and 20-foot eagle on the seventh hole after what Thompson described as a good 6-iron into the green.

Thompson’s back-to-back eagles Thursday might have been expected at La Quinta Country Club, but three eagles on Friday were always possible, Thompson said.

Have to keep going low

“Watching this tournament for a couple years now I always see the winning score being so low,” Thompson said. “So you kind of really don’t have a choice, you just got to keep hitting greens and giving yourself looks and trying to make the putts. I was just fortunate enough to make a lot of putts these first two days.”

Thompson added that the Nicklaus Course is wider and not as demanding on driving accuracy, but that La Quinta has smaller greens requiring better iron shots.

For Rahm, he said his 64 Friday was close to the same caliber of play as his 64 Thursday — good but not as good as he can play with one exception.

“I’ll give you the same answer as yesterday, except my wedge game,” Rahm said. “That was probably the best I’ve ever had it. It was a distance today which was basically a 100-yard-feeling shot that I had multiple times. I had it on, let’s say 10. I think I had it on 13, 14, 15. Close to it on 1 and on 5. That is six shots that none of them were outside eight feet, and three of them were absolute tap-ins.”

With consecutive rounds now at the Stadium Course, the toughest of the three courses in The American Express rotation, Rahm said the weekend is simply trying to continue scoring.

“Stadium I remember that year (his 2018 victory) played a little bit more difficult,” Rahm said. “I think I shot even or 1-under on that third round and barely lost any ground. Pretty sure if I do that tomorrow I will lose some ground. So just got to keep on going. At this point where we’re at on the PGA Tour with so many great players going on, you need to show up on the weekend and shoot low.”

Day is one of four players tied for third moving to La Quinta Country Club on Saturday after a strong 64 on the Stadium Course on Friday. Day, who spends time in the desert at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells working on his game in the winter, said he can’t expect too much from playing La Quinta.

“Like everyone’s saying, you can’t get ahead of yourself,” Day said. “Because if you start thinking about it too much, you can definitely go out there and just have an average day. So I got to try and stay as focused as possible and just take it as it comes.”

Thompson said he looks forward to a weekend on the Stadium Course.

“I played the majority of the holes on Tuesday (in a practice round),” Thompson said. “So got a good feel. But, yeah, it will be nice to (have played) two courses in a row and kind of prepare for one course these next two days.”

Eagles have landed

Seven golfers have made five eagles in a four-round tournament since 1983 on the PGA Tour:

2023: Davis Thompson, American Express

2022: Justin Rose, Canadian Open

2020: Dustin Johnson, FedEx St. Jude Championship

2019: Austin Cook, Barbasol Championship

2018: Keegan Bradley, Canadian Open

2018: Brandt Snedeker, Canadian Open

1994: Davis Love III, Sony Open