Dustin Johnson has cruised to his 20th PGA Tour title and Martin Trainer has grabbed his first. Steve Rawlings looks back at the two events with his customary weekly review piece here...
“It’s becoming increasingly obvious that it’s a futile exercise trying to gauge DJ’s wellbeing and his current form certainly didn’t hinder him last week. Having won in Saudi Arabia, DJ had been slightly disappointing at Pebble Beach and Riviera (both venues he’s won at before) so I dismissed him before the off but he clearly loves it here and he could easily go in again.”
Never in doubt for DJ
Dustin Johnson began the fourth and final round of the WGC Mexico Championship with a four-stroke lead and despite a slightly shaky start, the result was never really in doubt. Rory McIlroy closed the gap to two after three holes of the final round, thanks to a birdie at the second and Johnson bogey at the third, but the Irishman then played the next three holes in two-over and DJ was able to coast to a very comfortable five-stroke victory.
It was Johnson's 20th PGA Tour victory, his sixth World Golf Championship title and his 22nd win as a pro. And all in the space of a little over ten years. He got the ball rolling in October 2008 when he won the now defunct Turning Stone Resort Championship.
Johnson enjoys his overseas jollies and the well-travelled American has now won titles in America, Canada, Mexico, China and Saudi Arabia. He was a well-fancied 12.011/1 chance at the beginning of the week and he was never outside the top-two places. Rory, who led after the opening round, was matched at a low of 1.910/11 early on in round two but Johnson was never headed after he hit the front at halfway.
Two fancied players may have dominated throughout but both Mike Norman's pick, Paul Casey, and Paul Krishnamurty's fancy, Cameron Smith, placed for the each-way column and there was even better news for Paul when his 150/1 fancy, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, birdied the last three holes to grab a tie for third.
Over at the Puerto Rico Open, pre-event 120.0119/1 chance, Martin Trainer, who began the final round two off the lead and alone in third, comfortably took the title after the front two, Aaron Baddeley and Nash Lashley, both failed to break par. One of my in-play picks, Johnson Wagner, who I'd backed at 50.049/1 on Friday, briefly went odds-on, touching 1.981/1 when he hit the front following a birdie at the 10th hole, but he failed to pick up another shot after that and he played the last eight holes in one-over-par. In contrast, Trainer played the back nine in three-under-par to win by three.
Having layed both Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson in-running, and having not layed any of my Wagner wager back, it's been a poor week and one to forget fast.
What Have We Learned This Week
Although he fell away on Sunday to finish tied for eighth, Nate Lashley, who began the final round in second place at the Puerto Rico Open, gave the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship link a boost and it's an angle in I'll explore again.
The two venues are very similar so I'll be referring back to the Puerto Rico Open leaderboard at the end of March when we return to the Dominican Republic for the fourth renewal of the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. It will be played alongside the WGC Match Play and as a PGA Tour event for the second time. Lashley won the second edition before it was upgraded from a Web.com Tour event.
Rory McIlroy was the only player to finish the week within ten strokes of Dustin Johnson and if he's anything but a very warm favourite next year, when he'll bid to win a third WGC Mexico Championship in four years, he's going to be worth following. It's becoming increasingly obvious that it's a futile exercise trying to gauge DJ's wellbeing and his current form certainly didn't hinder him last week. Having won in Saudi Arabia, DJ had been slightly disappointing at Pebble Beach and Riviera (both venues he's won at before) so I dismissed him before the off but he clearly loves it here and he could easily go in again.
Overseas players and European Tour players appear to like the venue too and other than the winner, Patrick Cantlay was the only other American to finish inside the top-eight and although we've only had three editions to date, course form stands up really well.
The European Tour returns to Oman this week for the second edition of the Oman Open and the PGA Tour moves to the Sunshine State for the Honda Classic. It's the start of a superb four-week long Florida Swing that incudes, The Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Players Championship and the Valspar Championship.
And when that's all done and dusted, we more on to Texas for the WGC Match Play and the Valero Texas Open before we return to Augusta for the year's first major. Not a bad little run.
I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my previews.
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