On a tense Sunday at the TPC River Highlands, Dustin Johnson kept his head down to eke out a memorable victory in the Travelers Championship, a winner on the PGA TOUR every year since 2008.
Johnson endured standing in the water barefoot, a partner in meltdown, an hour-long suspension and a tee ball that sailed out of bounds to gain his 21st career victory on the PGA TOUR. The wayward tee shot for Johnson came at the 13th soon after Brendon Todd had conceded a triple bogey on the previous hole to fall out of contention.
After walking away with a bogey on the 13th, Johnson made amends immediately with a birdie on the next hole. But he was left with an awkward lie on the 15th. He rolled his pants up, took his shoes off, stood in the water to somehow save par. In the end, a tap-in par on the 72nd was enough to secure a one-stroke victory over Kevin Streelman. Johnson finished at 19-under 261.
Beginning the day with a two-stroke advantage, Todd returned home to a 75 to finish in T11. His last birdie came on the 17th on Saturday. But in an intriguing Sunday golf suffering, he ended a 61-hole streak without a bogey with a triple on the 12th to all but destroy his own chances.
Dustin Johnson had his own share of problems in the intensity of the final stretch, but he did not miss a single putt inside ten feet on Sunday. Kevin Streelman finished 2nd at 18 under; Will Gordon and Mackenzie Hughes tied for 3rd at 17 under.
Johnson wasted no time erasing the deficit at the start of the final round. A brilliant 164-yard approach shot set him up for a birdie on the fourth hole. Powering his way off the fifth tee, Johnson left himself just nine feet for birdie on the 223-yard par-3 fifth.
He conceded his first shot on the 443-yard par-4 seventh, where he needed three to reach the green before two-putting for a bogey. But he recouped his losses immediately, making a 27-footer for birdie. He made the turn at three-under when he collected yet another birdie on the ninth hole.
“It was definitely strange without the fans. But there was still a lot of pressure, it is a big tournament,” said Johnson. “I have put in the work and it is nice to get my first win of the season.”
“I wasn’t driving it really good all day. But I have been hitting my irons well all week,” added Johnson. “I made a nice bogey on the 13th, a birdie on the 14th and saved par on the 15th. So that was a nice stretch. But they blew the horn and we had to wait it out in the clubhouse for an hour.”
“I caught my shot a little thin on the 16th, it was just a poor shot,” he said. “But I held it together and played some golf on 17 & 18 to finish it off.”
Johnson made it three in a row with another birdie at the 10th hole, moving to four-under for the day. But after a bogey on the 13th, where his tee shot sailed past the bunker and out of bounds, he made a 16-foot birdie on the 14th to stay at four under.
There was one final dose of drama when a two-putt bogey on the par-3 16th left him defending a one-stroke margin over Streelman. He did that with a couple of pars to round off a memorable outing.
PGA TOUR VICTORIES (20)
2008 Turning Stone Resort Championship
2009 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
2010 BMW Championship, AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
2011 The Barclays
2012 FedEx St. Jude Classic
2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions
2014 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
2015 World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship
2016 U.S. Open, World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, BMW Championship
2017 Genesis Open, World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, THE NORTHERN TRUST
2018 FedEx St. Jude Classic, RBC Canadian Open, Sentry Tournament of Champions
2019 World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship
2020 Travelers Championship
European Tour (1)
2019 Saudi International