March 27, 2017: Dustin Johnson held off a brilliant fightback from Jon Rahm to claim a one up victory in the final of the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play and become just the second player in history to win back-to-back World Golf Championships.
The World Number One won the WGC – Mexico Championship earlier in the month and was in stunning form all week to emulate Tiger Woods and make it consecutive WGC wins.
It was also his second consecutive European Tour win and took his tally of triumphs in both categories to five.
The American did not trail at any point in any match all week as he made it seven wins out of seven and lost just 23 of the 112 holes he played at Austin Country Club.
Rahm had also been in brilliant form in his first six matches and while he mounted a spirited fightback from five down after eight holes, he came up just short in an exhilarating encounter to make it two top threes since joining the European Tour on March 1.
In the consolation match, Hideto Tanihara made a hole-in-one on the seventh but was beaten 2 and 1 by Bill Haas.
Johnson failed to birdie the opener for the first time in the week as holes one and two were halved in pars but a ragged tee-shot on the third led to a Rahm bogey and the American had the advantage.
A little frustration looked to be creeping into Rahm’s body language and when he three-putted the next to send Johnson two up, it was clear he needed something positive to happen.
It looked like it had when he hit the pin on the fifth with his second shot to leave a short putt for birdie but after Johnson had got down in three, he missed from four feet to go three down.
I’m proud of how I played, the way I stayed in there. He made birdies on the back nine but I just couldn’t get any putts to drop – Dustin Johnson
The Spaniard recovered well from a poor second shot to save par on the sixth but Johnson was relentless and a textbook two-putt birdie on the par five gave him a four-hole advantage.
The rot was stopped on the seventh as Rahm recovered from sending a long putt off the green by making the next for par but a bogey on the eighth sent him five down.
A pair of bogeys from Johnson around the turn then gave Rahm some hope but he lost the 12th with a par after putting his second shot into the greenside bunker.
A brilliant drive over the water to the green on the par four 13th brought a birdie and an approach to two feet on the 15th gave Rahm hope once more.
A 30-footer on the next incredibly cut the gap to one but two closing pars were good enough to hand Johnson the win.
“He played tough and it was a long day, I played to 18 on both matches today. It was tough.
“I’m proud of how I played, the way I stayed in there. He made birdies on the back nine but I just couldn’t get any putts to drop.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in my game. I feel like I’m driving the ball great. I could work on the irons a little bit but it will be good to work on those next week.”
In the consolation match, Tanihara made just the fourth hole-in-one in the history of the WGC – Match Play.
He hit an eight iron from 207 yards that took a big, bounce, three hops and rolled into the hole for the tenth ace of the European Tour season and helped him get two up at the turn but Haas fought back on the back nine.
European Tour Release