Dominant Dustin Johnson Lands 20th PGA Tour Title of Career at WGC
American Dustin Johnson claimed the 20th PGA Tour title of his career with a five-shot victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship, seeing off a determined challenge from Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy in the process..
McIlroy reduced Johnson's lead to two early on and sunk six birdies on the back nine as he shot a four-under 67 to finish 16 under. World number three Johnson, four shots ahead going into the final round, responded with five birdies in seven holes to post a 66.
England's Paul Casey and Ian Poulter were tied in third place on 11 under. Casey moved up 10 places on the leaderboard with a final round of 65, with four birdies on the opening six holes. He and Poulter shared third place with Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Tiger Woods carded a final-round 69 with three birdies to finish on eight under in joint 10th place.
Johnson, 34, becomes only the fifth player in the last 50 years to reach 20 PGA Tour wins before the age of 35, putting him in the company of only Woods, Phil Mickelson, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson "It clicked. I hit it really well this week," Johnson said. "It means a lot, to get 20 wins out here is very difficult. 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. I feel like the game is in good form right now."
Defending champion Mickelson, who opened with a 79, rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at his final hole for a 68 and a level par final total. Round of the day belonged to Justin Thomas, who carded a nine-under 62 to finish nine under overall.
It was Johnson's second European Tour title of the season and he became the only player to have won all four World Golf Championships events, taking his tally to six at Chapultepec Golf Club with a third triumph in this event.
Johnson recovered from just a second blemish of the week to sign for a 66 and finish at 21 under. He has now won in consecutive starts on the European Tour after his victory at the Saudi International and will move up to second in the Official World Golf Ranking. "This is a big one for me and it gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the year," he said. "I feel like the game's in good form right now. It's been a little bit since I've been in the lead with this kind of field and this calibre of players. I know Rory's playing really well, he was not too far behind me so I definitely felt some nerves there at the beginning of the day.
"I made some really good par saves early in the round on the front nine and that kind of gave me the momentum. I knew I was still swinging it well, I just had to give myself some chances and turned it on on the back nine. Me and Rory both played a really good back nine."
The five best shots from #WGCMexico pic.twitter.com/CupEzYtxWp — The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) February 25, 2019
McIlroy put on an excellent show of his own, making six birdies on the back nine in a 67, but had to settle for a sixth runner-up finish since his last European Tour win at the 2016 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
"It was good," he said. "Some weeks you play well and someone just plays better and that's what DJ did this week. When DJ has got a four shot lead and goes out and shoots five under par, he's not going to lose. My game is right there, I'm really happy with everything. I've just got to stay patient, look at the positives and just keep persisting, putting myself in positions and sooner or later it'll go my way."
Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat and English pair Casey and Poulter were 10 shots off the lead in a distant tie for third, one clear of American Patrick Cantlay, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Australian Cameron Smith.
McIlroy played a lovely chip from just short of the second green to set up a birdie and when Johnson failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on the third, the lead was down to two. The Northern Irishman bogeyed the fourth after going right off the tee and had to play left-handed from behind a tree on the sixth, finding water with his third en route to another dropped shot. Johnson holed from nine feet on the same hole and a pitch to four feet on the tenth handed him a six shot lead.
Both men took advantage of the par five 11th before McIlroy trimmed the lead to five from 10 feet on the next. They moved well clear of the field from the 14th, each making three successive birdies at the 14th, 15th and 16th holes.
McIlroy put his tee-shot to 10 feet on the par three 17th but gave the shot back with a three-putt from the fringe on the last but it was all over by then anyway. Poulter has finished no worse than sixth in his four European Tour events so far this season and he carded a 68, making four birdies on the back nine after turning in 36.
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