For the second week in a row, one of the world’s best entered the final round with a six-shot lead. This week, it was world number three, Dustin Johnson. Johnson birdied the final three holes of his third round to open up the insurmountable lead, which allowed him to cruise to a 5-shot win over runner-ups Thomas Pieters and Scott Brown. Johnson abused the rain-softened Riviera setup, putting on a tee-to-green clinic while also leading the field in strokes gained: putting, thanks to a grip change to start the week. As he has proven over the last 18 months, when DJ putts well, the field is playing for second place. Full scores
Johnson has finally cashed in at Riviera, a course where he has had his fair share of close calls after finishing in the top 5 five of the past seven years. The win moves DJ to number 1 in the world rankings, unseating Jason Day who has held the position for the last 55 weeks. His first win of 2017 also extends his winning streak of 10 consecutive seasons with a victory on the PGA Tour.
With Riviera signaling the end of the West Coast swing, who could ask for a better start to the 2017 season? It’s already been chock full of big name winners and storylines, like Hideki Matsuyama defending his title at the Waste Management, Spieth in top form winning the AT&T, 22-year-old Jon Rahm flooring it down the stretch to pull away and win at Torrey, 23-year-old Justin Thomas opening the season with back-to-back wins, and of course, our new world number 1! 74 days till the Masters!
Struggling with his game and transition to life on Tour, unique thinker Bryson DeChambeau withdrew midway through his second round at Riviera (after earning a sponsor’s exemption to play) due to a “hand injury”. Another young pro, Grayson Murray, had a problem with Bryson’s WD, taking to Twitter to voice his displeasure:
(Serious Twitter battle ensues in the replies.)
Murray’s opinion drew mixed opinions, but one thing is clear, Bryson isn’t making very many friends on Tour.
Knockin’ on that door
Heading into this week’s Panama Claro Championship, Andrew Putnam was one of the hottest players on the Web.com Tour, opening the season with a t8th, t11th and a 5th place finish in the first three events. On Sunday, Putnam added to the strong start by notching a playoff win over Chris Baker. With the win, he takes over the top spot on the Web.com Tour Money List and looks to be heading to a spot on the PGA Tour in 2018.
King of Perth
Playing down under in Perth, Australia the European Tour rolled out their new innovative format for the ISPS Super 6. After 54 holes, the field was cut to the low 24, who squared off for 6-hole match play matches until 1 man was left standing.
In the end, 54-hole medalist and Perth Native Brett Rumford was able to take home the title, besting 17-year-old Thai phenom Phachara Khongwatmai. Rumford dominated all week and proved himself the best player at Lake Karrinyup, winning the stroke play portion of the event by 5 shots and surviving the match play portion to last man standing.
Overall, the tournament drew rave reviews for its exciting new format, which led to a fun Sunday filled with quick, pressure-packed match play. A tactic that will hopefully be adapted by the PGA Tour soon as different formats provide a nice break from the week in, week out 72-hole stroke play slog.
Winter Park: The Future of Municipal Golf
Last month, my travels took me to Orlando where I was able to check out Winter Park Golf Course, a 9-hole course recently renovated by bright young architects Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns, who transformed the tired design. Their work deserves high praise and should be the vision for the future of municipal golf. It’s a fun course with wide fairways and great green complexes to inspire players of all skill levels to play more golf. Check out the full review here.
On the college circuit
It was a big weekend for college golf. In Hawaii, Virginia used a dominant first round to capture a 4-shot victory over Texas A&M at the John Burns Invitational, their 4th win of the season.
At the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate in Palm Desert, CA, defending champions the Oregon Ducks along with their star player, Wyndham Clark, lifted the team and individual title.
Playing at the Golf Club of Houston (the annual site of the Shell Houston Open), Baylor was able to best top-ranked Vanderbilt to claim the All American.
The upset of the week came in Gainesville, Florida where Arkansas was able to take home the SunTrust Gator Invitational, beating out number 2-ranked Florida on their home course.
Couples triumphs at the Chubb Classic.
Ha Na Jang captures the LPGA season opener at Royal Adelaide.
LA Open deep dive
NLU contributor Robbie Vogel takes a serious deep dive into the LA Open, spending countless hours on Golf Club Atlas digging up Tiger rumors galore. Check it out here.