Johnson consolidates No.1 spot with WGC-Mexico win
Dustin Johnson rubbed Rory McIlroy’s nose into any thoughts of regaining the World No. 1 title with victory in the WGC – Mexico Championship.
Johnson fought off a strong final round challenge not from McIlroy but from Englishman Tommy Fleetwood for the American to win by a stroke courtesy of a closing 68 and a 14-under par tally.
The Southport-born Fleetwood produced a pair of 66s to fight his way to second place at 13-under par just weeks after capturing the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
It was only Fleetwood’s fifth appearance in a WGC event but his US$984,270 cheque was good enough for ‘temporary’ PGA Tour membership and a move to the top of the Race to Dubai money list.
Johnson’s win is his 5th WGC title and his second taste of success in a row since moving to the top of the rankings after capturing the recent Genesis Open.
“It means a lot for me to win my first event out as World No. 1 as there was a lot of pressure on me,” he said.
“But I came out and played really well. I hit the ball great all week and while the greens were tough to putt on, it meant I didn’t feel I putted my best but then I played well enough, I guess, to win by one.”
Spanish-born Jon Rahm shot a final round 68 to finish tied on 12-under par alongside Ross Fisher, who carded a sizzling 65.
However, Rahm was left ruing dropping shots at 16 and 17 that no doubt cost him forcing a play-off.
Rahm had grown up in Arizona but it wasn’t until earlier this year he set the golf world alight after eagling the final hole to capture the Farmers Insurance Open in California.
McIlroy finished in a distant share of 7th place signing for a 71 along with Phil Mickelson (71) and Brandt Snedeker (65).
McIlroy went into the final round of the year’s first major showdown tied with Johnson and trailing a shot behind Justin Thomas.
McIlroy had given himself the opening final round nine holes to make-up ground on the leaders but it never happened for the current World No. 3.
McIlroy ended with in a round of 71 and in what was his first tournament in some six weeks since being diagnosed with a stress fracture of a rib.
The Ulsterman has his week off before returning to competition in what will be a very emotional encounter in the golf world for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlalndo.
Thomas birdied the first but was soon struggling with a pair of bogeys in the next three holes but it all came unstruck for the World No. 8 after putting his drive into the drink at the par three 7th for a double bogey.
The American, who won back-to-back in Hawaii earlier this year, then dropped a shot at eight and made the turn at three-over for his round to be well out of the event.
Thomas may also find himself being fined after letting his driver fly in anger dangerously close to the crowd at the 11th but later walked off with a birdie.
The Aussie charge never eventuated with Adam Scott topping the leaderboard at T45 after rounds of 73, 76, 68 and 68.
Sam Brazel bookended his campaign with a pair of 75′s to slip in to T55 with Marcus Fraser (T58), Scott Hend (T65) and Matt Griffin (75) rounding out the Down Under field.