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Back-to-back eagles send Davis Thompson to Amex lead

Jan 19, 2023; La Quinta, California, USA; Davis Thompson plays his second shot on the fourth hole during the first round of The American Express golf tournament at La Quinta Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Davis Thompson rode consecutive eagles to the first-round lead at The American Express on Thursday in La Quinta, Calif.

Thompson, a 23-year-old University of Georgia product, eagled a pair of par-5 holes at La Quinta Country Club, Nos. 5 and 6, to leave him 7 under par through six holes. He finished at 10-under 62 for a two-stroke lead over five players.

Taylor Montgomery and Spain’s Jon Rahm each shot 8-under 64 at La Quinta. Sam Burns and Germany’s Matti Schmid both carded a 64 at PGA West’s Stadium Course, and Tyler Duncan registered a 64 at PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament Course.

Nine players are tied for seventh place at 65: Australia’s Harrison Endycott and South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen, who played the Stadium Course; Eric Cole, J.T. Poston, Michael Block, South Korea’s Sungjae Im and South Africa’s Dean Burmester, who played the Nicklaus Tournament Course; and Xander Schauffele and Denny McCarthy, who played La Quinta.

Thompson made a 12-foot putt at No. 5, then knocked in a 60-foot chip shot at No. 6 for his eagles. He became the first player to notch back-to-back eagles since Ireland’s Shane Lowry did so at last year’s Open Championship.

After his sizzling start, Thompson was just 3 under par over his final 12 holes, but he still completed a bogey-free round.

“(I) just got off to a hot start and just kind of coasted on my way in,” he said. “But it’s always good to see some putts go in early and give you confidence to just keep it rolling.”

Thompson is playing in his ninth career PGA Tour event, and his best finish was a tie for ninth at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, Calif., in September.

“My biggest challenge today was staying present-minded and trying to put one foot in front of the other,” Thompson said. “Your mind definitely starts to wander a little bit. But I played enough rounds to where I try to teach myself over and over you can’t get ahead of yourself.”

Rahm, who is ranked fourth in the world and won the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month, made five birdies on his first seven holes at La Quinta. After his lone bogey at the par-4 10th hole, he added four more birdies.

“It’s a great start to the tournament,” said Rahm, who won this event in 2018. “You can’t really win it on this golf course, but you can sure fall off the pace. It’s a great start, solid round of golf, great putting out there. Hopefully, I can keep that going the whole week and feel a little bit better tee to green.”

–Field Level Media