JOHN­SON GOES ON A ROLL

First player since McIl­roy in 2014 to win three con­sec­u­tive US PGA Tour starts

New Straits Times - - Sport -

DUSTIN John­son held on to beat Spain’s Jon Rahm 1 up on Sun­day to win the World Golf Cham­pi­onships Match Play crown and be­come the first player to win all four WGC events.

World No 1 John­son was 5 up through eight holes but with­stood a fu­ri­ous rally by the 22year-old Spa­niard, who was try­ing to be­come the youngest win­ner of one of the elite WGC events.

Rahm’s come­back bid fell short when he was un­able to birdie the 18th to ex­tend the match.

John­son rolled in a four-footer for a par to halve the hole and seal the win.

John­son, the reign­ing US Open cham­pion, won the WGC HSBC Cham­pi­ons in 2013, the WGC Cadil­lac Cham­pi­onship in 2015, the WGC Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional in 2016 and the WGC Mex­ico Cham­pi­onship ear­lier this month.

His wins in Mex­ico and on Sun­day in Austin, Texas, saw him join Tiger Woods as the only play­ers to win back-to-back WGC ti­tles.

The vic­tory capped a dom­i­nant week for John­son, who never trailed in any of his seven matches.

John­son took the fi­nal by the throat when he won four straight holes from the third through the six as the ever-more frus­trated Rahm strug­gled with the put­ter.

But Rahm kept his nerve af­ter falling 5 down when John­son won the eighth with a par.

And the young Spa­niard, who won his first US PGA Tour ti­tle at Tor­rey Pines this year, won the 13th, 15th and 16th with birdies — rolling in a clutch 32-footer at the 16th.

Af­ter both parred the parthree 17th, they went to 18 with John­son 1 up.

John­son hadn’t been be­yond the 16th hole un­til Sun­day. He also had to hang on for a 1 up win over Ja­pan’s Hideto Tani­hara in the semi-fi­nals on Sun­day morn­ing.

“I def­i­nitely didn’t play my best to­day in the first match or the sec­ond,” John­son said.

“So, to win both those matches not hav­ing my best stuff is def­i­nitely a pos­i­tive.

“And I’m def­i­nitely proud of the way I hung in there and played tough and just tried to never give away holes, which I felt like I did a pretty good job of.”

John­son’s two lat­est WGC tri­umphs fol­low a vic­tory in the Ge­n­e­sis Open at Riviera in Fe­bru­ary that pro­pelled the Amer­i­can to num­ber one in the world. He’s the first player since Rory McIl­roy in 2014 to win three con­sec­u­tive US PGA Tour starts.

“I’ve got a lot of con­fi­dence now — con­fi­dence in my game and con­fi­dence in my­self,” John­son said.

REUTERS PIC

Dustin John­son re­ceives The Wal­ter Ha­gen Tro­phy from Michael Dell, CEO and founder of Dell Tech­nolo­gies, af­ter beat­ing Jon Rahm of Spain in the fi­nal round of the WGC Match Play Cham­pi­onships on Sun­day.

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