Dustin Johnson enhances status as Masters favorite
- Author: Julie Sanders Apr 09, 2017,
Apr 09, 2017, 22:44
Dustin Johnson won the Match Play with more drama than he needed Sunday to cap off an otherwise dominant week that made him the first player to sweep the four current World Golf Championships events.
The final tally will show that Johnson, the reigning U.S. Open champion, outlasted the 22-year-old Rahm, 1 up, at windswept Austin Country Club.
Even though he was taken the distance twice on Sunday - a 1-up victory over Hideto Tanihara in the semifinals and a 1-up victory over Rahm in the final match - there was no denying the dominance of Johnson.
Tanihara rallied from 3 down to square the match after 14 holes and did not make it easy for Johnson, the world's top-ranked player, in the semifinal, but missed a birdie putt on No. 18 and allowed the eventual champion to close a 1-up victory with a birdie-par finish.
Rahm, a powerful 22-year-old who won the Farmers Insurance Open in March, held a flawless record for the week as he entered the championship match, but was overcome by the World No.1 on the final hole.
This was Rahm's 16th event since joining the paid ranks and during this short time he has recorded a win and two top threes in his first two World Golf Championship events, as well as another two top threes.
'I'd love to play Dustin because I want to test myself against the best and get a little revenge for Mexico, ' said Rahm, referring to the fact Johnson beat him down the stretch when claiming the second of his three successive victories.
"I definitely didn't play my best today in the first match or the second".
Tanihara hit an eight iron from 207 yards that rolled into the hole - only the fourth hole-in-one in the history of the WGC Match Play - to go two up at the turn, but Haas fought back on the back nine.
Points opened the final round with five straight birdies en route to carding a six-under 66 for a 20-under-par 268 aggregate.
Tanihara, who defeated two-time major victor Jordan Spieth in his first group match, reduced his deficit to a single hole before losing the 12th after three-putting it for par, but birdied the next two holes to get back to all square.
"I really like that golf course".
Johnson would make the mistake of giving Rahm an opening when he gave away the 10th and 11th holes with bogeys, though, and soon the Spanish bull was off and running.
"He drives it great like TW back in the day".
Ever since his win at the U.S Open previous year, Johnson has been the best player on tour. "I gave him 10 when I three-putted but that was about the only hole I gave him, he played tough". By then, Rahm had nothing to lose and birdied the 13th, 15th and 16th holes to reduce Johnson's lead to just one hole. "And I just need to keep working on it, keep trying to get better and keep working hard". "I just couldn't get any putts to drop, but I'm proud of the way I played". Rahm's third shot caught a gust of wind and spun right of the hole, leaving 32 feet for birdie.
"It's been a long time to be victor of the tournament", Lee told reporters via a translator after clinching her third LPGA victory at the age of 26.
In a decade-long PGA Tour career, Johnson has won at least one tournament every year since his rookie season. Guys like Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama have played well, but none of them have played to the level that Johnson has played.
In the early throes of last week's WGC Matchplay, Johnson was asked whether he thought he intimidates fellow players.
Johnson is now second in WGC wins, behind only Tiger Woods (18).
Her 20-under 268 total matched the tournament record low set by Cristie Kerr in 2015, when Lee finished runner-up. "That putt went in and gave me hopes for nearly the first time on the back nine that I could win it".
At 13, Rahm drove the green and two-putted for a birdie that left him just 3 down again.