Dustin Johnson stumbled on the first hole Sunday afternoon at the WGC-HSBC Champions golf tournament, with a bogey at the first hole, but steadied the ship, and held off some tough competitors to log his first win on the PGA Tour since January. Dustin fired a six under par 66 at the Sheshan International Golf Course for a three shot victory over defending champion Ian Poulter, and four shots over Graeme McDowell.
Playing with Poulter and McDowell on Sunday, I didn’t give DJ much of a chance against arguably one of the best pressure putters on any tour in Ian Poulter, and G-Mac, who beat him at the 2010 US Open.
I had commented in the Golf Community on Google + that I didn’t think Dustin had the short game, or internal fortitude to get out of China with a win. I’m expecting a steady diet of crow this morning, so someone can pass me the salt.
In fact, all three competitors shot 66 on Sunday, and ended the day just like it began. The big charge came from Sergio Garcia who got in the clubhouse with a final round 63 just in case all three were to stumble. Garcia’s first-round 70 proved to be the obstacle he couldn’t overcome. He was too far back when the day began.
After battling some injuries since his victory in the season opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, I started to question DJ’s commitment to winning golf tournaments. He is such a laid-back guy, it’s hard to tell if he has the passion it sometimes takes to be a consistent winner on tour.
I have always thought he was an excellent driver of the golf ball, but has lacked the short-game skills to carry him when the driver isn’t hitting the fairway. I was pleased to see him tough this one out, and get a victory over this kind of field. We could use another solid American player on the Tour.
Dustin tied the tournament record on Friday with a 63, and set a new tournament record total of 24 under par 264 for the win.
He played a pivotal five-hole stretch on the back nine in 5-under, seizing control by pitching in for eagle from just short of the green on the par-4 16th. He followed with an 8-foot birdie putt on the 17th and closed with a 6-under 66.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” Johnson said. “Those guys put a lot of pressure on me. I’m really proud of the way I handled myself.”
It was the second straight PGA TOUR Season that Johnson won the first tournament he played — even though it was in the same year. His last win was the Hyundai Tournament of Championship at Kapalua in January. This is the first time the TOUR has gone to a wraparound season, which began a month ago.
Johnson now has won in each of his first seven seasons on the PGA TOUR, the most by any player since Woods in his first 14 seasons through 2009.
You can follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47 and in the Golf Community at Google +