Dustin Johnson went to No. 1 in the world with a world-class performance at Riviera yesterday.
Johnson turned a marathon finish into a Sunday stroll in the Genesis Open. He had a one-shot lead when he arrived Sunday at Riviera, which lost 10 hours the previous three days to fog and torrential rain. He had such command of his game that his longest par putt in the third round was from 4 feet, and he closed with three straight birdies to make the final round in the afternoon more of a coronation. He finished the third round in the morning with a 7-under 64 to build a five-shot lead, stretched it to nine shots at one point in the final round and coasted home to a 71 and a five-shot victory.
“It sounds good,” Johnson said when asked about being the top player in the world. “I played really great all day. I couldn’t have driven it any better. That was a big key.”
Johnson became the 20th player to reach No. 1 since the world ranking began in 1986, ending Jason Day’s 47-week stay at the top.
He won for the fourth time against some of golf’s strongest fields dating to his U.S. Open victory last summer. To state the new world No. 1 was trending towards victory on the historic venue is an extreme understatement given he had six top-10 finishes from his prior nine starts.
The list of Johnson’s top-10 finishes at the Genesis Open now reads: 1st in 2017, 4th/ 2016, T2/ 2015, 2nd/ 2014, T4/ 2012, T3/ 2010, T10/ 2009.
There was no doubt this time though that Johnson was going to claim the title.
“To finally get a win at the Genesis Open feels good because I’ve finished second here a couple times, lost in a playoff, felt like I should have won a couple other times,” Johnson said.
“It’s definitely nice to win on a golf course that I really enjoy playing and a golf tournament I really enjoy playing.”
Johnson went 49 straight holes without a bogey, a streak that ended on No. 9 in the final round, and he was sloppy down the stretch when it no longer mattered.
It capped off a strong stretch that elevated Johnson to the top. Not only was it his fourth victory since June, he has finished among the top three in eight of his last 16 tournaments.
Johnson finished at 17-under 267. About the only disappointment was losing a chance to break the oldest 72-hole scoring record on the PGA TOUR schedule. Lanny Wadkins won at Riviera in 1985 at 20-under 264.
Johnson reached 20 under with his 21st birdie of the week on the par-3 sixth hole. Having made only one bogey all week, he finished with three over the last 10 holes.
“I didn’t finish the last 10 holes the way I’d like to, but I had a pretty good lead. I was on cruise control,” Johnson said.
He still had no complaints. He scooped up his 2-year-old son, Tatum, on the 18th green. Johnson’s fiancee, Paulina Gretzky, announced on Instagram earlier this week they are expecting their second child.
Johnson moves to sixth in the FedExCup with the win and joins Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win at least one time in each of their first 10 seasons on TOUR.