Dustin Johnson became the first golfer since Tiger Woods to win U.S. PGA Tour titles in each of his first seven seasons with a three-stroke victory at golf’s HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai.
Johnson shot a 6-under-par 66 yesterday -- his fourth straight round in the 60s -- to finish at 24-under par at Sheshan International Golf Club. It was the second-lowest score in relation to par at a World Golf Championships event, behind Woods’s 25-under effort at the 2002 Cadillac Championship.
Johnson, 29, received $1.53 million for his eighth career PGA Tour victory, which came in his first start of the wraparound 2013-14 season. He also won his opening tournament last season at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
“Getting off with a win is definitely huge,” said Johnson, who made three birdies and an eagle over the last six holes yesterday to erase a one-shot deficit. “It’s my biggest win I’ve had so far in my career.”
Woods also won PGA Tour events in his first seven seasons out of college from 1996 through 2001. Only Phil Mickelson has a longer current winning streak than Johnson, with 10 consecutive seasons with at least one PGA Tour title.
Johnson of the U.S., Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (6) and American Webb Simpson (4) are the only three players under the age of 30 with four or more career PGA Tour wins.
Johnson opened the WGC event in Shanghai with rounds of 69, 63 and 66 to take a three-stroke lead into the final day. He lost that advantage yesterday, falling one shot behind defending champion Ian Poulter of England after 12 holes. Johnson then had back-to-back birdies, including a 20-foot putt on the 14th hole, before chipping in for an eagle on the par-4 16th hole.
‘Finished the Job’
Poulter, who was seeking to become the only player other than Woods to defend a WGC title, finished second at 21-under par, one shot better than Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.
“Dustin going birdie, eagle there kind of finished the job,” Poulter said. “It was good golf and it was good fun to play in that group.”
After events in Malaysia and China, the PGA Tour returns to the U.S. this week for the McGladrey Classic on Nov. 7-10 in Sea Island, Georgia. It will be followed by the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico, with all six events for the new season held this year awarding FedEx Cup points for the first time.
The PGA Tour schedule then resumes in January with its traditional swing through Hawaii before moving to the U.S. West Coast for six events in California and Arizona.