Dustin Johnson ended a windy week with a wild ride yesterday that carried him to the first win of the PGA Tour season.
Despite hitting two drives into native areas that cost him three shots, Johnson never lost the lead at Kapalua, Hawaii. He closed with a 5-under 68 for a four-shot victory in the Tournament of Champions, though it was up for grabs with five holes to go.
Steve Stricker came within a fraction of an inch of tying for the lead until his birdie putt peeled away from the cup on the 13th hole, which Johnson chopped up for a double bogey. With only a one-shot lead, Johnson pitched in from 15 metres in front of the 14th green to restore his three-shot lead, and Stricker never challenged him after that.
And so the tournament that didn't start until the fourth day because of a powerful wind finally ended with a guy who overpowered the Plantation Course. Johnson, who finished at 16-under 203, won for the sixth straight season. Only Phil Mickelson with nine straight years has a longer active streak of most consecutive seasons with a PGA Tour victory.
Johnson also added a peculiar footnote to his record. He now has won the last three PGA Tour events reduced to 54 holes because of weather rain - at Pebble Beach in 2009, a hurricane at The Barclays in 2011, and gusts that topped 64kph in Hawaii from a freak weather pattern that led to a bizarre season opener.
Not since Tiger Woods has a player gone straight from college to winning in his first six seasons on tour.
Stricker put up a good fight on one good leg. He has been feeling a shooting pain down his left side on every shot and limped his way around the most mountainous course on tour.