Thursday, March 30, 2017

D. Johnson hangs on for WGC-Mexico title

It wasn’t exactly as easy as Riviera, but in the end Dustin Johnson did just enough to capture his second trophy in as many starts. Here’s how things ended up at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where Johnson strengthened his grip on the No. 1 ranking:

Leaderboard: Dustin Johnson (-14), Tommy Fleetwood (-13), Ross Fisher (-12), Jon Rahm (-12), Thomas Pieters (-11), Justin Thomas (-11)

What it means: Johnson started the day one shot back, but as Thomas started to fade he quickly took over the top spot and at one point led by four shots. He gave some of that back and received a back-nine challenge from Rahm, who briefly drew even, but a birdie on No. 15 and three closing pars were good enough to give DJ the win in his first-ever start as the top-ranked player in the world.

Round of the day: Fisher’s final-round 65 included nine birdies and gave the Englishman some valuable OWGR points. Fisher made the turn in 33 and closed with three straight birdies, essentially locking up his spot in the WGC-Dell Match Play and giving him a great chance to earn a Masters bid via the world rankings later this month.

Best of the rest: Brandt Snedeker tied Fisher with a 6-under 65, a score that moved the veteran up 11 spots into a tie for seventh at 10 under. Snedeker had four birdies in a six-hole stretch from Nos. 11-17 and rebounded nicely after an opening 75 by carding three straight rounds of 68 or better.

Biggest disappointment: Thomas entered with a one-shot lead, but he seemed to struggle from the start. A watery double bogey on the par-3 seventh gave the lead to Johnson, and by the time Thomas birdied Nos. 14 and 15 it was too little, too late. A 1-over 72 after three straight rounds in the 60s dropped him into a tie for fifth.

Shot of the day: Nursing a one-shot lead and facing an awkward lie in the fairway bunker, Johnson carved his approach on No. 18 around a tree and watched it settle pin-high to set up an easy two-putt for the victory.

Quote of the day: “I played just well enough, I guess, because I won by one.” – Johnson

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