For the 64th straight year, the winner of the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open was not a Canadian, but if a native son was not going to win, World No. 1 Dustin Johnson was as acceptable of an option to the fervent Canuck crowd as there was.
Johnson, who has been engaged to the daughter of Canadian super-legend Wayne Gretzky since 2013, and is the father of two Gretzky grandchildren is something of an honorary Canadian. He even took his first tee shot of the week donning a jersey of The Great One.
Emerging from a four-way 54-hole tie atop the leaderboard at Glen Abbey by shooting a final-round 6-under 66, Johnson reached 23-under-par for the week, and won the RBC Canadian Open by three strokes over the South Korean duo of Whee Kim and Byeong Hun An.
Twice a runner-up at the Canadian Open, DJ’s first victory in the Great White North was the 19th of his PGA Tour career, tying him with legends Ben Crenshaw, Ernie Els, and Tom Kite on the all-time list.
Just 34 years of age, Johnson is likely to ascend further up the list. His third victory of the season, he became the first player on Tour since Tiger Woods in 2009 to score at least three wins in three consecutive seasons.
FINAL TOP 10
1. Dustin Johnson -23
2. Whee Kim -20
2. Byeong Hun An -20
4. Keegan Bradley -19
5. Abraham Ancer -17
6. Danny Lee -16
6. Tommy Fleetwood -16
8. Joel Dahmen -15
8. Mackenzie Hughes -15
8. Brandt Snedeker -15
8. Andrew Putnam -15
12. Ian Poulter -14
12. Shane Lowry -14
17. Kevin Tway -13
17. Graeme McDowell -13
22. Gary Woodland -12
29. Jhonattan Vegas -11
29. Jimmy Walker -11
29. Charley Hoffman -11
37. Tony Finau -10
37. Joaquin Niemann -10
45. Jim Furyk -9
50. Steve Stricker -8
61. JB Holmes -7
HOW DUSTIN JOHNSON WON THE RBC CANADIAN OPEN
Dustin Johnson started Sunday in a four-way tie for the lead, but was easily the most accomplished of the bunch, which also included Kim, An, and Kevin Tway, three players who have combined for zero career Tour wins.
The tie was short-lived into round four though, as Johnson birdied the first two holes to snag a lead he would never relinquish.
A lengthy weather delay mid-round threatened to disrupt DJ’s momentum, but he ended up playing even better on the back nine than on the front.
With birdies on all three back-nine par-5s, nobody was able to put serious pressure on the lead, and with three holes to go, Johnson’s triumph was a foregone conclusion. He very nearly eagled the final hole, but the crowd still erupted when he tapped in for birdie to seal the win.
For the week, DJ lead the field in strokes gained: off-the-tee and strokes gained: tee-to-green, two categories he already leads the PGA Tour in, and he was the co-leader in greens in regulation while placing sixth in driving accuracy.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR DJ
Johnson’s third victory of the 2018 season came at a propitious time, as he was an enormous disappointment in missing the cut at last week’s Open Championship in Scotland.The rapid bounceback should be a nice confidence builder with elite events coming up in each of the next two weeks, first the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which DJ won two years ago, and then the PGA Championship, the final major of the season.
The win padded his lead in the FedExCup standings, as he now leads Justin Thomas by 527 points.
Sunday might have ultimately been about DJ, but a number of others flourished in the final round. For the second time this week, Keegan Bradley had the lowest round in the field, this time shooting a bogey-free 8-under 64 that included six birdies an an eagle hole-in from 151 yards out on the par-4 9th hole.
Keegan Bradley hits a shot from the 16th tee during the final round of the 2018 RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Canada. Credit: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
As great a round as it was, it was not even Bradley’s best round of the week, as he shot a 9-under 63 to surge into contention on day two. A third-round 73 prevented Bradley from capturing his first victory since 2012, but at 19-under par for the week, he finished in a tie for fourth place, his fourth top-10 of the season.
Following a similar pattern to Bradley was Jonathan Randolph, who shot a 7-under 65 to rise 34 spots up the final leaderboard. Randolph also shot a 65 on Friday, but an abysmal Saturday 76 meant that he had to settle for a T37 finish.
Among many in the field to shoot a 5-under 67 on Sunday was reigning Race to Dubai Champion Tommy Fleetwood. The runner-up at this year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, Fleetwood played his back-nine 6-under to rise into a tie for sixth in his Canadian Open debut.
One of the big favorites coming into the week was Tony Finau, who last week posted his third straight top-10 in a major, making him the only player on Tour to finish in the top 10 of all three majors.
However, that momentum did not carry over to Glen Abbey, where he finished T5 in 2017, as Finau needed to birdie the final two holes just to manage a 1-over 73 and a disappointing T37 finish.
Only one player who finished ahead of him had a worse Sunday round. Charley Hoffman, who reached a playoff in this event last year, which he lost on the first extra hole, was only one shot better than Finau on Sunday, shooting an even-par 72 on a day where the scores were very low. It was yet another poor final round for Hoffman, who finished T29 just a week after being relevant for three rounds last week at Carnoustie.
Of the four men tied for the lead coming into Sunday, one of them was the eventual winner, while two others finished runners-up. The fourth? That was Tway, who was attempting to win the same event his father won in 2003. Tway could not get anything going in the penultimate pairing, carding just one birdie in a difficult final-round 4-over 76.
WIth just one player in the field inside the top 250 of the World Rankings, there was little hope coming into the week that Canada would see one of their own win their national open since Pat Fletcher in 1954. None of them worked their way into contention this week, but one did give it a good Sunday run to post a top 10.
Mackenzie Hughes shot a final-round 4-under 68 to finish T8 and win the Rivermead Cup – given annually to the lowest-scoring Canadian in the field, for the second straight year.
The only other Canadian to break into the top 30 was little-known Ryan Yip, who shot a final round 70 to finish T22. Yip is a 33-year-old from Calgary, who was ranked 838th in the world coming into Glen Abbey, and had missed the cut in all four of his July starts on the Web.com Tour.
THE JHONNY VEGAS DEFENSE
Jhonattan Vegas was the two-time defending champion of the RBC Canadian Open, posting incredible Sunday’s the past two years to vault out to the front of the leaderboard.
Attempting to become the first player on Tour since Steve Stricker in 2011 to win the same even three consecutive times, Vegas came up well short with a T29 finish. Vegas had a 2-under 70 on Sunday, and while he was consistent for the week, shooting 70 or better in all four rounds, he did not have that very low round that we usually see from winners of this event.
“It definitely means a lot. Signing with RBC this year, and coming up here to the RBC Canadian Open and winning, especially on a golf course where I’ve had success, it means a lot. Obviously having a lot of ties to Canada with Paulina, her dad, Wayne, who, thanks to him, I get a lot of fans out here, so it makes it a lot more fun playing out here in front of a big crowd. I had a lot of support this week, and it was a lot of fun.”
– Dustin Johnson, RBC Canadian Open Champion