Sunday, February 03, 2019

Dustin Johnson wins Saudi International by two strokes

Dustin Johnson overcame a world-class field to win the inaugural Saudi International powered by SBIA by two strokes on Sunday and claim his sixth European Tour title.

 Johnson came out on top in a captivating final-round battle with playing partner Li Haotong on day four, mixing five birdies with two bogeys in his closing 67 to finish the week on 19 under par.

 China's Li finished alone in second after nervelessly holing his five-foot birdie putt at the 18th to get to 17 under.

 Englishman Tom Lewis was another stroke back after carding seven birdies and two bogeys in his final-round 65, one ahead of Min Woo Lee in fourth.

 American Johnson drew first blood in his fourth-round showdown with Li, holing from six feet to pick up a shot at the second for the fourth day in a row.

 Li hit back, knocking in from close range at the long fourth before taking the lead when he holed his approach from high above the ninth hole to secure an unlikely birdie.

After both men had surrendered a bogey on the tenth, Johnson made back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th to edge in front.

 And his position at the top of the leaderboard looked even more secure when Li dropped shots on the 13th and 14th to fall three shots off the pace.

 But the 23 year old sent his approach at the 15th to within two feet of the cup before rolling in for a birdie to close the gap.

 There was to be another twist as Johnson's tee-shot at the short 16th missed the green and went left towards the sea.

 He was forced to take a drop but bravely holed his bogey putt to drop just the one shot and remain one ahead of Li and Lewis.

 And he tapped in for a close-range birdie at the 17th to restore his two-shot advantage with one hole left to play.

Johnson then repeated the trick at the last, rolling in from two feet to win the tournament by two shots.
He was delighted to secure the title.

 "It feels really good," said Johnson. "Any time you can win a professional golf tournament, no matter where it is in the world, it's a big win.

 "I'm honoured to be the champion and I'm very pleased with the win.

 "The things that I've been working on are working and I've still got a lot of room for improvement. I'm very pleased with where the game is at.

 "I've got a lot of confidence in what I'm doing and I feel like I'm hitting a lot of really good golf shots. So misses are starting to get better and I'm not making as many mistakes, even though I did on 16.

 "But for the most part, that was about the only really bad shot I hit this week.

 "So I'm pleased with where the game's at, and to get a win here, it's a big win, gives me a lot of confidence going for the rest of the year."

Li believes Johnson deserved his victory. He said: "It was a very good match, especially on the front nine, playing really good.

"On the back nine, just a little bit off, and wasn't my best over there today again. But I learned a lot and especially that last few holes was good for me. I think he deserved to win this event."

Lewis surged into contention early on Sunday when he opened his last round with five straight birdies to jump to 16 under par.

But he mixed two more birdies with as many bogeys in his remaining holes to stay behind Johnson.



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