Dustin Johnson rolls to 8-shot win at Tournament of Champions

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Shame on anyone who wondered if Dustin Johnson might grow timid atop a leaderboard after blowing a six-shot advantage in the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in October.

It should be clear by now that Johnson lives and plays in the moment and, at this moment, he’s the most dominant force in golf.

Johnson entered the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions with a two-shot lead and converted that into an eight-shot victory in Kapalua, Hawaii. The only time he looked back was to check on the rest of an elite field that stood no chance as Johnson shot 24-under 268 for the week.

“The most difficult part is, I guess, trying to stay within your own game and not play off his,” Jordan Spieth said.

Now fully recovered from last season’s back injury that hurt his game more than many realized, Johnson shot 8-under 65 in the final round at Kapalua Resort’s Plantation Course. Johnson was exceptional with the driver all week, even by his own standards, allowing him to stay aggressive. Rather than playing it safe in the final round, Johnson shot the low round of the tournament and ran up the score.

This was a 6-foot-4-alpha statement from the No. 1-ranked player in the world. Justin Thomas had an awesome 2017, Spieth added another major and Tiger Woods is coming back, but this is still DJ’s Tour entering 2018.

“Even when I made the turn, I think I was at 20 under, I told myself my goal was to get it to 25,” Johnson said. “I just kind of kept the pedal down making the turn and played really well again on the back side too.”

Johnson has held the No. 1 spot for 46 weeks since taking over from Jason Day at last year’s Genesis Open, with Day falling to No. 13 during said stretch.

With the latest victory, Johnson boasts wins in 11 consecutive seasons – a mark of consistency surpassed only by Tiger Woods (14), Lee Trevino (14), Billy Casper (16), Arnold Palmer (17) and Jack Nicklaus (17). He’s also in good company with 17 career wins, matching Jim Furyk and Curtis Strange. Since 2008, only Woods has more PGA Tour victories than Johnson with 18.

“DJ’s a guy that forgets pretty quickly,” said Rickie Fowler, who finished 10 strokes behind Johnson at T-4. “That’s one of the reasons why he is the best player in the world right now. He quickly forgets, moves on, and he’s a great player, a great ballstriker. There’s not necessarily a weak part of his game.”

Consider the par-4 12th hole for evidence of Johnson’s short memory. Immediately following his lone final-round bogey, he ripped a 429-yard drive that settled 6 inches short of the cup. By that time Johnson was already walking in the general direction of the fairway, seemingly oblivious to his own near ace.

Jon Rahm finished runner-up at 16 under thanks to a final-round 69. Brian Harman was alone in third at 15 under. Spieth (12 under) and Justin Thomas (4 under) struggled early in the week.

So, yes, it’s safe to say Johnson has moved on from that two-shot loss to Justin Rose. The guy was trying new prototype irons that week and literally left them behind.

“I don’t think they made the trip home from China,” Johnson said. “They probably are still in my locker at whatever the golf course is called.”

No reason to dwell on the past when the present is this good.

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