Dustin Johnson’s dominance of world golf continued as he beat Spain’s Jon Rahm to clinch the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play title in Texas.
Johnson look set to for any easy win in the final, when he stormed into a five-up lead after only eight holes, but Rahm staged a dramatic fightback to take the match to the final hole at Austin Country Club.
But the world No 1 held his nerve to match Rahm’s par at the last to seal a one-up win and become the first player to win all four current World Golf Championship titles.
Johnson will now head to Augusta on the back of three consecutive tournament victories, following his recent successes at the Genesis Open and the WGC-Mexico Championship – the first golfer to achieve that on the PGA Tour since Rory McIlroy’s run in 2014.
After being taken the distance for the first time in the event by Hideto Tanihara in the morning semi-finals, Johnson looked likely to make short work of the final, as Rahm’s game deserted him in the early stages, while Johnson fired four birdies in the first eight holes.
But then the American bunkered his approach to the ninth and could not get up and down to match Rahm’s par, and Johnson gave another hole away when he three-putted the 10th. However, he restored his four-hole lead at the long 12th, when Rahm missed another birdie chance from short range.
Rahm responded by smashing his drive onto the green at the par-four 13th and two-putting for a winning birdie, and he pulled another hole back at 15, after clipping an 80-yard wedge in close before Johnson’s 10-foot putt for a three slid past the cup.
Rahm then rolled in a birdie from 32 feet on 16, after pulling his drive into the trees and being unable to go at the green in two, and both players nailed clutch par putts at the penultimate hole.
Rahm took the aggressive approach at the 356-yard closing hole and launched his drive over the back of the green, while Johnson split the fairway with a safe iron only to misjudge his second and come up short. But Rahm was distracted by a door slamming in the background as he played his pitch, and his ball stopped rolling agonisingly short of the ridge and left himself a slippery, downhill putt from 30 feet for his third. He hit a good putt, but did not allow quite enough break, and Johnson lagged to within three feet from the fringe and calmly holed the winning par putt to secure his place in the WGC history books.
Speaking about his incredible run of form, Johnson said: “It’s impossible to win every week. I know that. I’ve won my last three, but I’m just going to have to keep working hard, keep working on the things that I’m working on right now. Being the number one player in the world kind of drives me to work harder and to get better. There’s still a lot of room for improvement in my game. So I’m just going to keep working on it.”