The PGA Tour has a new lifetime member! Or will in three years anyway, but that’s just paperwork.
Dustin Johnson added career PGA Tour victory No. 20, the number needed for lifetime membership (when the 12-year Tour veteran reaches 15 career seasons), by breezing past a formidable field at Club de Golf Chapultepec on Sunday, the host site of the WGC-Mexico Championship.
Coming into the final round of the season’s second WGC event, only the recently scorching-hot Rory McIlroy was within seven strokes of the then-world No. 3 Johnson, but despite five birdies in a six-hole stretch from Nos. 11-17, McIlroy’s deficit to DJ actually increased from four strokes to five by the time the final round concluded. Johnson’s final-round 5-under 66 got him to 21-under par for the week.
Johnson did give McIlroy – and the rest of the week’s elite field, a glimmer of hope early on, as he played the first four holes to 1-over, but after a fortunate par on the par-4 fifth hole, where he was able to take advantage of a favorable ruling from the officials – receiving a free drop, from what otherwise would have been a horrifically daunting approach from behind a tree.
On the back-nine, DJ – as he often does, caught fire and put the tournament away with five birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 10-16. McIlroy played phenomenally down the stretch, but Johnson matched him so spectacularly that it did not matter.
Career victory No. 20 for the 34-year-old South Carolinian also clinched a 12th consecutive season with at least one victory – further establishing himself as the best World Golf Championships player of all time not named Tiger Woods. His remarkable victory in Mexico City gives him six career WGC wins, which still leaves him a ridiculous 12-wins short of Tiger, but is double the number accumulated by Phil Mickelson and Geoff Oglivy, who are tied for third on that distinguished list.
Final Top 10: Leaderboard
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Dustin Johnson -21 (-5)
2. Rory McIlroy -16 (-4)
3. Paul Casey -11 (-6)
3. Ian Poulter -11 (-3)
3. Kiradech Aphibarnrat -11 (-3)
6. Patrick Cantlay -10 (-1)
6. Sergio Garcia -10 (-1)
6. Cameron Smith -10 (-1)
9. Justin Thomas -9 (-9)
10. Joost Luiten -8 (-7)
10. Keegan Bradley -8 (-6)
10. Tiger Woods -8 (-2)
10. David Lipsky -8 (-2)
14. Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed -7
17. Gary Woodland, Francesco Molinari -6
19. Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood -5
25. Tony Finau, Louis Oosthuizen -4
27. Brooks Koepka, Bubba Watson -3
33. Lee Westwood -2
36. Rickie Fowler -1
39. Webb Simpson, Phil Mickelson E
45. Jon Rahm +1
50. Matt Kuchar +2
54. Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth +4
56. Bryson DeChambeau +6
62. Marc Leishman +9
How Dustin Johnson Won the WGC-Mexico Championship
Despite his career brilliance, Johnson does have a history of squandering some considerable leads, but on this Sunday, the closest anyone got to him was three strokes. That was McIlroy, who played the first three holes in 1-under par, while Johnson played it in 1-over.
However, a McIlroy bogey on No. 4, combined with another on the par-5 6th – one where he was denied relief from the difficult position he had landed in after a wayward drive, made the catch-up effort too difficult.
Johnson and McIlroy both went on back-nine birdie binges, allowing the duo to further distance themselves from the field, but it did not get Rory any closer. A final-hole bogey meant a 4-under 67 for McIlroy, one short of Johnson’s winning Sunday effort of 66.
For the entire week, DJ carded worse than a par on just two of 72 holes. His 22 birdies ranked second, and he led the field in strokes gained: putting, strokes gained: total, and greens in regulation. All-around, it was another amazing effort for Johnson, who notched his first PGA Tour victory of the season (he also won a recent European Tour event in Saudi Arabia), one year after posting three.
DJ’S Final Stats
Driving: 330.4 yards (12th)
Fairways: 60.7% (34/56) (25th)
Greens: 80.6% (58/72) (1st)
GIR/Putting: 100/1.724 (12th)
Scoring: 1 Eagle, 22 Birdies, 47 Pars, 1 Bogey, 1 Double (-21)
What It Means For Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson has spent 81 weeks of his career as the No. 1 ranked golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) – the fifth most in PGA Tour history (only Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, and McIlroy have held the spot longer). That number will increase to 82 in just over a week.
This victory in Mexico moved Johnson from No. 3 to No. 2, but even though he is not scheduled to play next week’s Honda Classic, neither is No. 1 ranked Justin Rose, and the way the rankings are calculated, Johnson will surpass Rose next week.
Johnson becomes the 38th golfer in PGA Tour history to reach the 20-win milestone, and the first to reach it since Davis Love III notched his 20th at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic in November of 2008.
DJ’S 2019 PGA TOUR Season
Cuts Made: 5
Wins: 1 (WGC-Mexico)
Top 10s: 2 (9th Genesis, 4th Sentry)
Earnings: $2,323,352 (6th)
Earnings Per Start: $464,670.40
FedExCup Pts: 770 (8th)
DJ’S 2019 EUROPEAN TOUR Season
Cuts Made: 2
Wins: 2 (Saudi Intl, WGC-Mexico)
Earnings: €2,047,061 (1st)
Earnings Per Start: €1,023,530.50
Race To Dubai Pts: 2,210 (1st)
For the second consecutive year, Justin Thomas was utterly phenomenal on Sunday in Mexico City. A year ago, he played the entire weekend 15-under par to reach a playoff – a Tour record.
This year, he shot a 2-over 74 in the third round, making another title run unrealistic, but again, he dazzled the crowds on Sunday, carding nine birdies in his first 12 holes to shoot a 9-under 62 – the low score of the week, and the lowest score since the event was moved to Club de Golf Chapultepec three years ago.
Thomas made an incredible one-day turnaround with his putter, gaining 3.2 strokes on the field on the greens a day after losing 4.9, a big reason why he jumped 28 spots up the Sunday leaderboard, into solo-ninth place.
Only two players in the field were within two strokes of Thomas on Sunday, with the most notable being European Tour veteran Joost Luiten, who used six birdies over his first seven back-nine holes to shoot a 7-under 64.
Luiten’s final round comprised nine of the 18 birdies he produced for the week. The 33-year-old from the Netherlands vaulted 20 spots up the Sunday leaderboard into a tie for 10th, his first career top 10 in 14 career WGC starts.
The other 64 was posted by Satoshi Kodaira, who still finished in a tie for 51st in the 72-man field.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson shot a 3-under 68 on Sunday, which was not quite as amazing as what Thomas, Luiten, and Kodaira posted, but the round – which included five birdies to just one hole worse than a par, got Mickelson to even-par for the week, which is impressive considering he shot a disastrous 8-over 79 on day one.
Mickelson posted rounds of 65 and 72 in the two middle rounds, respectively, and finished in a tie for 39th for the week.
There were a plethora of low scores on Sunday, but one man who could not get anything going was reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed. A 7-under 64 in round three got Reed into the final Sunday group with Johnson and McIlroy, but his effort lagged way behind that of his playing partners.
Reed bogeyed Nos. 2 and 3, and played even-par golf from there, shooting a disappointing 2-over 73, while dropping from T3 to T14.
An awful front-nine did in Tommy Fleetwood. The Englishman bogeyed four holes going out, and even though he played the back to bogey-free 2-under par, he still shot a disappointing 1-over 72 to drop from ninth into a tie for 19th.
Matt Kuchar continued his weekend plummet on Sunday. The two-time season winner, and No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings, was at 9-under through two rounds, good for second place, but he imploded on Saturday with a 7-over 79, and could not stop the bleeding on Sunday either, as a 3-over 74 dropped him into solo-50th place, and 2-over for the week.
Kuchar lost nearly four strokes to the Sunday field with his approach shots.
“It means a lot. To get 20 wins out here is difficult, and to do it before I turn 35 is pretty incredible. This is a big win for me, it gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the year, and I feel the game is in good form right now.”
– Dustin Johnson, 2019 WGC-Mexico Champion