Dustin Johnson came into the 2017 Genesis Open with an incredibly distinctive record at Riviera Country Club. He had finished in the top five at this tournament five times without having ever hoisted the trophy. That’s difficult to do, and Johnson proved on Sunday that a sixth was impossible.
Johnson finished at 17 under overall and took the tournament on Sunday by five strokes over Thomas Pieters in a marathon day Riviera on Sunday that saw the leaders play 36 holes from sunrise to sunset. Five strokes does not begin to describe how much of a blowout this was for Johnson who told CBS Sports’ Peter Kostis that he was “on cruise control” down the stretch on Sunday.
Johnson fired a 64 in an early Round 3 as play got pushed to Sunday morning for the leaders because of nasty weather earlier in the week. He all but put the tournament away as he took a six-stroke lead into the afternoon round. After touching 20 under through eight holes on the front nine of his final round, Johnson could have tossed all his clubs in a pond at Riviera Country Club and used a putter the rest of the way.
He made as many bogeys in the final four holes (2) as he made in the first 68, but the tournament was never in doubt. The check was already in the bag. The trophy already on his plane. PGA Tour win No. 13 was neatly tucked away as the PGA Tour wrapped up its west coast swing.
“Today was a long day but I played really great all day,” Johnson told Kostis. “I drove it really well. I couldn’t have drove it any better. That was a big key for me today.”
It was a big key all week. He finished No. 1 in the field in strokes gained off the tee and No. 3 in putting. He’s going to win about, oh, 100 percent of the tournaments he enters with those numbers.
Johnson now joins Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers since 1960 who have won at least one golf tournament in each of their first 10 seasons on the PGA Tour from the time they turned pro. That’s an improbably consistent streak from the uber-talented Johnson who has self-admittedly not always put in the work he should have put in throughout his career.
“He’s won every single year that he’s been out here,” said Jason Day. “That’s a formula. Whatever he’s doing he just needs to keep doing.”
With the victory, Johnson also became just the 20th golfer to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings. He is just the sixth American to do so.
“It sounds good,” Johnson told Kostis of the new No. 1 moniker. “It gives me a lot of confidence. It’s going to push me to work harder and to try to get even better.”
From someone who said last year he worked on his wedge game for the first time and it resulted in a U.S. Open and two other wins, that’s a scary thought for the rest of the golf world. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the Genesis Open.
Phil Mickelson (T34): I’m not sure I saw Mickelson make a par all week. To wit, he finished T2 in eagles and T67 in fewest bogeys (15 of them) on the week. His artistry on Sunday when he chipped in three times was unparalleled. Unfortunately so were his 11 bogeys on the front nine this week. Grade: B
Jordan Spieth (T22): I really though Spieth was going to throw something like a 67-68 on the weekend at Johnson, but he finished 72-71 instead and fell way out of contention. That’s his first finish outside the top 21 since the 2016 Open Championship. Grade: B-
Jason Day (T65): Day could not get it going this week. He fired rounds of 70-70-75-71 and relinquished his No. 1 world ranking to Johnson. He needed to finish T3 or higher with a Johnson win, and he did not even come close. Day has had a little up and down to his game since the year started (two top 12s, a missed cut and this T65). I’m not concerned, though. He sometimes takes a while to really start heating up. Grade: C-
Kevin Na (T4): I’m not concerned with where Na finished. I just wanted you to see some of his sweaters from the week. Na has always been an eclectic dresser, but this was over the top even for him.
Justin Rose (T4): Rose’s golf swing looks on point right now. He was No. 2 in the field in strokes gained off the tee, but just 40th in approach shots. The worrisome part for competitors is that he was top 10 in strokes gained putting. If he does that with any consistency throughout the rest of the season, he could win 2-3 times. Riviera would have been a nice feather in his cap of wins on crazy-good courses, but nobody was beating Johnson this weekend. Grade: A
Adam Scott (T11): A solid showing in his first 2017 outing. Scott was built for tracks like Riviera, and he did not disappoint. The Australian did not have a score at or above par all week. Strangely, he too finished top 10 in putting with so-so approaches. This really could be a harbinger for big Florida swings from him and Rose. Grade: A-