Dustin Johnson's hot start to 2017 continued with a victory in the WGC-Mexico Championship in Mexico City.
With a final score of 14-under, Johnson edged out Tommy Fleetwood by one stroke, while Ross Fisher and Jon Rahm tied for third place. For his effort, Johnson earned a little over $1.6 million, per ESPN.com:
|WGC-Mexico Championship 2017 Payouts—Top 10|
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Johnson owns the second-most WGC wins (four), which is still a little over four times fewer than Tiger Woods' all-time mark (18). Golf Channel researcher Justin Ray also put Johnson's total PGA Tour haul in perspective:
With birdies on Nos. 14 and 15, Rahm pulled into a tie with Johnson with three holes remaining. The European Tour shared a replay of his improbable birdie putt on the 14th green:
The 22-year-old Spaniard faltered immediately after, carding back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes, which brought an end to his title challenge.
Fleetwood made a late run, finishing the tournament with a birdie on the 18th hole, but he still needed Johnson to slip up once more before heading for the clubhouse. Johnson avoided any catastrophic mistakes over the last stretch, closing the final round with three straight pars.
He masterfully danced out of danger on No. 18 after his drive landed in a fairway bunker. Not only was he chipping out of the sand, but he also needed to clear the set of trees sitting in front of the green. The European Tour provided a second look at his approach:
Johnson left himself with a tap-in to seal the title, courtesy of the PGA Tour:
Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson entered the day with a puncher's chance of topping the leaderboard. They were each 10-under through the first three rounds.
Neither golfer could get into a groove, though. Mickelson was three-over on the front nine, and McIlroy was only slightly better, going one-over before making the turn. The two stars ended the round how they began it after finishing even par over the final 18 holes.
This is Johnson's second win of the season. He bested the field at the Genesis Open Feb. 19—a result that saw him climb to No. 1 in the World Golf Ranking. He also has five top-10 finishes in seven events, further illustrating how consistent he has been early on in the campaign.
Through Feb. 14, Jordan Spieth was the odds-on favorite (6-1) to win the 2017 Masters. Johnson boasted 11-1 odds, fourth-best on OddsShark. A lot has happened since then, and Johnson has arguably supplanted Spieth.
The 32-year-old finished inside the top 10 at the last two Masters, and he got the major monkey off his back with his U.S. Open triumph in 2016. Johnson won't be able to carry his winning streak much longer, but he's positioning himself as the man to beat at the Augusta National Golf Club next month.
"It means a lot," Johnson said of winning after becoming the No. 1 golfer in the world, per the Telegraph's James Corrigan. "There was a lot of pressure, but I came out and hit the ball great all week. The greens, you know, they're tough, and I didn't feel I putted my best. But I played just well enough."
Rahm took positives away from his third-place finish, per the Guardian's Ewan Murray: "I didn't play great every day and still had a chance to win the tournament. I'm not going to play great every day, but that's where you want to be, producing respectable scores without your A-game. That's going to keep you going for a long time, and I was just glad I could do that."
McIlroy, on the other hand, had the opposite attitude about his result.
"I was hoping to improve as the week went on," he said. "That was obviously the plan; that's the plan every week. I hit it pretty well every day, but the course changed a little bit as the week went on and I didn’t quite adjust to it. First week back it's OK, but being two ahead going into the weekend, obviously I'm disappointed with the finish."