Dustin Johnson cements No. 1 ranking in Mexico
March 05, 2017
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Dustin Johnson's clutch play leads to victory at Mexico ChampionshipIn the final round of the 2017 World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, Dustin Johnson pulled ahead and held firm to win by one stroke over Tommy Fleetwood and grab his 14th title and 4th straight WGC title.
MEXICO CITY – Notes and observations from Sunday’s final round of the World Golf Championships – Mexico Championship, where Dustin Johnson claimed his fourth WGC title and 14th PGA TOUR victory with a one-shot win.
Johnson’s final round 3-under 68 held off fast-finishes from Tommy Fleetwood (66), Ross Fisher (65) and Jon Rahm (68).
For more coverage from Club de Golf Chapultepec, click here for the Daily Wrap-up.
JOHNSON SOLIDIFIES NO.1
Dustin Johnson became just the fifth player to win their first PGA TOUR event after becoming world No. 1 opening a significant gap between himself and Jason Day at the top.
Johnson joins Ian Woosnam, David Duval, Vijay Singh and Adam Scott in the elite group and is now guaranteed to remain top dog at least until the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play.
He now has 14 PGA TOUR wins and his four WGC titles gives him the most of anyone other than Tiger Woods (18).
Johnson is also the second player this season to win in back-to-back starts after Justin Thomas’ Hawaii heroics, winning the Genesis Open prior to this week.
Dustin Johnson interview after winning Mexico Championship
FLEETWOOD FLIES HOME FAST
Englishman Tommy Fleetwood was a young star on the rise when at 22 he claimed his first European Tour title in 2013. And while he didn’t win again, his consistency from then through the middle part of 2015 saw him shoot up as high as 47th in the world rankings.
American audiences got a great taste of his talent at the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play in 2015, where he was fifth.
But by early September 2016, he had dropped all the way back to 188th in the world.
Cue a timely turnaround. Starting at the 2016 KLM Open he closed the year with eight top-15 finishes from 10 starts on the European Tour. He then opened 2017 with a win in Abu Dhabi.
When he buried his 39-foot birdie on the 72nd hole at Club de Golf Chapultepec and secured outright second this week he rocketed to a career-high 35th in the world.
The back nine at Club de Golf Chapultepec was a happy hunting ground for Fleetwood this week. His 9-under total over that stretch of holes included just one bogey, coming at the par-3 13th hole in the opening round.
“It's just nice to be playing well again. Obviously, I struggled for a while, but my game's been coming back,” Fleetwood said.
“I've been playing really well and it's nice to just shoot scores in the big tournaments with the best players. It's tough to beat the best player in the world, isn't it? But my world ranking keeps going up so try and keep it that way.”
Fleetwood plans to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard before heading to Austin for the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play.
Tommy Fleetwood's dramatic birdie on the last at Mexico Championship
PHIL FINDS FORM FOR AUGUSTA
Phil Mickelson was heavily disappointed after his third-round 3-under 68, but he found positives in his final-round 71, despite missing out on the chance to break his near four-year victory drought.
Mickelson started the final round just two off the 54-hole lead held by Justin Thomas after several amazing birdies and par saves on Saturday, but the magic ran dry early Sunday.
A bogey on the opening hole sent him backwards early, and by the time he birdied the sixth, he was already off the pace. He fell well back after bogey at seven and a double bogey at the eighth.
To the five-time major winner’s credit, he fought hard on the back nine with an eagle and a birdie, leaving him four back in a tie for seventh.
It’s his highest finish this season, bettering his T8 at the Safeway Open and sends him to 39th in the FedExCup standings.
After hitting just four fairways on Saturday, Phil improved to 9 of 14 Sunday, thanks in part to a range session with coach Andrew Getson.
“It was easy to identify, I do one of three things and we were able to get it worked out on the range, but my confidence level starting on the front nine wasn't really high and I ended up making some tentative shots and shot 3 over (on the front nine),” Mickelson said.
“But I came back on the back and hit a lot of good solid shots. This is a good tournament for me to build off of. It was disappointing yesterday, but to come back and play a good solid back nine and get a little bit of momentum now, I'm looking forward to the upcoming stretch.”
Mickelson will take two weeks off before returning for a three-week stretch, playing the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play and the Shell Houston Open before culminating at Augusta National, where he will strive for a fourth green jacket.
“I like playing my way into majors,” Mickelson added.
“These next two weeks I'll take to work on a couple of the things that I've been working on in the offseason. I'm pleased with the way that I implemented these changes and so forth, but I was just disappointed that I had a total meltdown yesterday for nine holes.
“I know what I'm supposed to do, I know what I'm trying to do, and when I do it, I'm able to execute and play golf at the level I want.”
CALL OF THE DAY
THOMAS TAKES BACK FEDEXCUP LEAD
Overnight leader Justin Thomas was disappointed with his fade to a tie for fifth, but the result was just good enough to see the four-time PGA TOUR winner retake the lead in the FedExCup race from Hideki Matsuyama.
Thomas, who already has three wins and two further top 10s this season, moved to 1,737 points to take a slim, one-point lead over the Japanese star.
Matsuyama finished in a tie for 25th leaving him on 1,736 points. For the record, Dustin Johnson improved to third place at 1,353 points.
Thomas was livid with his efforts from the sixth through the ninth holes, where he shot a collective 3 over compared to Johnson’s 3 under.
“That's the golf tournament right there. If I don't double seven there or bogey eight, there you go, I'm in a playoff,” Thomas said.
“When you're in the last group, you want to win. I'm as competitive as anybody and I want to get it done. DJ played great, he deserved it, but I just need to play a little better if I expect to win a golf tournament of this stature.
“But I'm really proud of myself. I fought back really hard. I still had a chance to win the golf tournament after 11 and 12, and I just really got a bad break there on 13 with kind of a spike mark.
“I was a little emotional at the beginning of day so I have that to learn from. I think it all just finally all caught up to me. I got away with some bad shots yesterday and I just was swinging it bad again today and it really got me. But I moved up in the FedExCup, so I'm just somehow looking at it as a positive.”
RAHMBO ALMOST STEALS SHOW
When Dustin Johnson made the turn on Sunday, his lead was four and victory seemed a foregone conclusion – but someone forgot to tell Jon Rahm.
The recent Farmers Insurance Open winner revved up with an eagle on the 11th hole and back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 saw him take the lead.
Riding a wave of support from the Mexican crowd, the Spanish star looked like he would steal victory with a finish akin to his blitz at Torrey Pines, where a 6-under back nine, and eagle on the last, turned into a three-shot win.
But alas, just as he was really cooking, a couple of three-putt bogeys killed his run, leaving him to settle for a tie for third, two off the pace.
“Sometimes you're going to make some bogeys from those greens and unfortunately for me it happened at the end,” Rahm said.
The former amateur world no. 1 improved to the sixth spot in the FedExCup and admits he will take a lot of confidence going forward after his first World Golf Championships performance.
“I didn't play great every day and still had a chance to win the tournament. My first chance here on this golf course, first time I played this kind of event and to actually have a chance and be in it the first time, it's really nothing but positive,” he said.
Jon Rahm pours in a 33-foot putt for birdie at Mexico Championship
ODDS & ENDS
Rory McIlroy closed with an even-par 71 to finish T7 in his first start since returning from a rib injury. McIlroy had a chance to move to second in the world rankings if he could finish in the top three but failed to turn his 36-hole lead into the necessary finish. “Being two ahead going into the weekend, obviously disappointed with the finish I have,” McIlroy said. “I needed to get off to a fast start and I didn't. That was really it. The course got a little trickier over the weekend. Maybe I just didn't quite adjust to that. But all in all, first week back, it's okay.”
Soon to be World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Lorena Ochoa was thrilled with the tournament played in her home country. The best golfer Mexico has produced was confident the great crowds and effort from organizers could be a catalyst for the sport in the local area. “I am really happy because for sure this puts Mexico on another level,” Ochoa said.
“We are going in the right direction. Having golf in the Olympics means the government is helping a little bit with new players and new talent. And anytime you have the best players in any sport in your country I think we should be proud of it and really take advantage of the opportunity. Little girls and boys can come and see professionals and not be afraid of dreaming. A tournament like this you can change their lives.” Ochoa also revealed she will play in the 2017 Lorena Ochoa Match Play in May, her first LPGA tournament in five years.
Paul Casey managed a final-round 5-under 66 and a T16 finish, despite being involved in a traffic accident on the way to the course. Players were chauffeured to the tournament from their hotel via police escort but one local law enforcer was unfortunately hurt in the accident. “The police bike behind our car, we slowed down for a speed bump, he got hit from behind by just some random person. It wasn’t good,” Casey said. “Then he hit our car. His bike and he went flying past us, and the bike was half under the car that hit him. I hope he’s okay. We got out. We had Jason Day’s physio, Cornel Driessen, he was there, he got out, he was like, ‘Don’t move.’ His leg looked messed up. You don’t know about spinal injuries. Hopefully he’s okay.”
Belgian Thomas Pieters looked like challenging for the title when he opened with three birdies in his first four holes. But an inability to find another birdie until a chip in on the 17th hole left him to settle for a tie for fifth. The result was enough to earn Thomas eligibility for Special Temporary Membership on the PGA TOUR.
Roberto Diaz, the only Mexican player in the field, finished in a tie for 67th. The Web.com Tour player was disappointed not to contend but hoped to take plenty away from the week. “The players I played with J.B. Holmes, Jim Furyk, Schwartzel, a couple of major champions plus Russell Knox, who has won twice on the TOUR, and Alex Noren, who has won several events on the European Tour, I believe I learned a lot from them and it's just now a matter of going back to the Web.com Tour and playing well there,” he said.
Defending champion Adam Scott battled illness all week and could only manage a tie for 45th, some 15 shots behind Johnson. As the best finisher of five Australians, the tournament was officially the worst World Golf Championships performance for Australia of all-time.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Phil Mickelson's masterful approach is the Shot of the Day
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Golf can be cruel sometimes. pic.twitter.com/xflzEt9nUi— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 5, 2017
First start as World No. 1 ... 🏆 pic.twitter.com/1j2pwd7OwI— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 5, 2017
DJ's last 11 rounds ...— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 6, 2017
Respect. pic.twitter.com/fzTl79HvGK— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 6, 2017