Johnson wins debut as top-ranked player
Three straight pars secure Mexico Championship.
Dustin Johnson didn’t flinch when a challenge arrived out of nowhere Sunday, playing mistake-free over the final five holes to win the Mexico Championship in his debut as the No. 1 player in the world.
Johnson’s four-shot lead going to the back nine turned into a one-shot deficit when Spanish rookie Jon Rahm ran off an eagle and two birdies at Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City. Johnson caught him with a birdie on the par-5 15th, and closed with three solid pars for a 3-under 68.
Rahm had gone 59 holes without a three-putt until taking two in a row at the worst time to fall back.
Johnson’s last test was from a fairway bunker on the 18th, and he blasted that out to the middle of the green for a two-putt par and a oneshot victory over Tommy Fleetwood of England.
“I didn’t feel like I putted my best, but I really hit the ball well,” Johnson said. “I played just well enough, because I won by one.”
Johnson became the fifth player to win in his first tournament as No. 1 in the world. His fourth World Golf Championship title is second on the career list behind Tiger Woods, who won 18 times since the series began in 1999.
It was quite the consolation prize for the 26-yearold Fleetwood.
His 40-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 66 put him alone in second and secured a spot in the Masters for the first time. He moves to No. 35 in the world and is certain to stay in the top 50 over the next three weeks before the cutoff to get an invitation to Augusta National.
Rahm’s two late bogeys gave him a 68 and a tie for third with Ross Fisher, who closed with three straight birdies for a 65. That assures Fisher a place in the next WGC event in three week at the Dell Match Play.
Johnson looked as though he had this wrapped up when he made the turn.
He went long on the par-5 sixth, over the pin and up on a hill into the gallery, leaving what appeared to be a tough flop shot. The gallery ropes were down, and Johnson asked that the rope be removed from the ground so he could play a chip down the slope and onto the green. He pulled it off beautifully and made birdie, then rolled in a sliding 30-foot birdie putt on No. 8 and a 10-foot birdie on No. 9.
And then just like that, his lead was gone.
Rahm made an eagle putt from 15 feet on No. 11, and Johnson three-putted the 12th and made another bogey on the 13th from a bunker. They were tied at that point, and Rahm briefly went ahead with his birdie on the 15th. That was as close as he got. Johnson was steady right to the end to capture his 14th career victory on the PGA Tour, and his second straight. He reached No. 1 in the world two weeks ago with a five-shot victory at Riviera. And except for a few nervous moments on the back nine, he looked just as dominant.
The most recent player to win in his debut at No. 1 was Adam Scott at the Colonial in 2014.
“It’s a tough spot to be in,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of pressure on you. I came out and played really well.”
LPGA Tour: Inbee Park used her self-described “amazing” putting to win the HSBC Women’s Champions tournament in Singapore by one stroke Sunday after closing with an 8-under 64.
The South Korean finished at 19-under 269 at the Sentosa Golf Club, one shot clear of her playing partner Ariya Jutanugarn, who was second after a 66.
Sung Hyun Park (68) was third, a shot further back, while overnight leader Michelle Wie dropped into a tie for fourth after a 72.
Wie was two in front after making birdies on the second and third holes before her round unraveled when she four-putted for a double-bogey on the par-5 fifth.
“Stuff happens sometimes,” Wie said. “Sometimes you just 4-putt and you’ve just got to carry on with your life.”
Australasian PG Tour:
Australian Jarryd Felton won the New Zealand PGA Championship on Sunday with a birdie on the first hole of a three-way playoff with compatriot Josh Younger and New Zealand’s Ben Campbell.
European PGA Tour:
Dean Burmester finished with a 65 for a convincing three-shot victory at the Tshwane Open in Pretoria, South Africa, his first European Tour title.
The South African came from a shot off the lead overnight to win on 18-under-par 266 at Pretoria Country Club.
Dustin Johnson celebrates after parring the 18th hole to win the Mexico Championship.