Dustin Johnson and Mikko Korhonen both won their events by six strokes on the two main tours. Steve looks back at their victories with his customary assessment of last week's golf action here...
“Dustin Johnson has now won six different titles twice. In addition to this event, he’s also won the AT&T Pebble Beach, the BMW Championship, the WGC-Mexico (formally the Cadillac), the Genesis Open and the Tournament of Champions on two occasions. A good sign for the 2016 US Open Champ ahead of this week’s major maybe?”
At the age of 37, and at the 146th attempt, Finland's Mikko Korhonen, has finally won his first European Tour title and boy did he do it in style. Romping to a six-stroke victory over Scotland's Conor Syme at the Shot Clock Masters.
Despite his lack of previous success, in such a weak field, Korhonen was fairly well-fancied and he began the event trading between [22.0] and [24.0]. He wasn't someone I could have put too much faith in in-running and he even sounded nervous after he'd won - although he showed absolutely no sign of nervous during play.
"I didn't dare to think about winning," he said. "When my last shot had landed on the 18th green, then I knew I had like five or six putts of cushion. It feels great, beautiful. It's been a long wait, so it feels so good. Yes, I have thought that I might not be in this position. I've been up there a couple of times and couldn't do it at those times but now I'm so happy and relieved that I have done it. It's not easy to win, especially not the first win, so I'm really happy to have done it. I have no words, it's so good."
Over in the States, Dustin Johnson returned to the top of the world rankings with an impressive six-stroke victory at the FedEx St Jude Classic. The [8.2] pre-tournament favourite was winning the title for a second time, having won the title previously back in 2012 and he's now a very solid favourite for this week's US Open.
He'd began the final round tied for the lead with Andrew Putnam but a double-bogey by Putnam at the very first hole turned the final round in to something of a victory stroll for Dustin. The result was never really in doubt and he signed off in style at the 72nd hole with this fabulous eagle two at the 18th.
Following yesterday's success, and his win at the Tournament of Champions back in January, DJ is the sixth player to double-up on the PGA Tour this season. Patton Kizzire, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson, Jason Day and Justin Rose also have two wins apiece on the PGA Tour this term.
Johnson has now won six different titles twice. In addition to this event, he's also won the AT&T Pebble Beach, the BMW Championship, the WGC-Mexico (formally the Cadillac), the Genesis Open and the Tournament of Champions on two occasions. A good sign for the 2016 US Open Champ ahead of this week's major maybe?
It would be nice to be going in to US Open week after a decent week but that isn't happening I'm afraid. Far from it in fact.
Having witnessed all sorts of in-running carnage at the Diamond Club in Austria over the last four years, it made sense to go about laying anyone that got in to contention and my original plan was to wait until someone went odds-on given three men had done so in round four in each of the previous four year and that we'd seen winners come from four, five and even six strokes adrift with a round to go but having looked at the halfway leaderboard, I took the plunge and layed the first four in the betting at a combined 4/5.
That, as it transpired was my first mistake. My second was not siding with DJ after 36 holes, and this is what I wrote on Saturday morning in the In-Play Blog. "DJ looks a very solid bet at just a shade under even money." Followed by. "I'm tempted to play DJ and I may well look back at it on Monday and think it was a great opportunity missed."
And my third mistake was to lay Korhonen again during the third round at [2.58].
Self-praise is no praise but I do give myself some credit for not making matters worse by going in deeper on Korhonen. Even the shakiest of performers (and clearly now Korhonen can't be considered especially shaky) can get far enough clear to relax and coast home and although he was short yesterday at just [1.4], the stats suggested he should be shorter so I'm glad I put the spade down and stopped digging. The hole was already big enough.
I could regret the way it all panned out but I don't. Previous stats at the venue suggested drama aplenty was afoot and whenever I'd observed Korhonen (apart from when he shot 68 in round for in Portugal in 2016) he struck me as someone to take on and his stats backed that up, so a decision was made that felt like the right one and things just didn't work out this time.
Shot Clock a Success
One thing I didn't consider when laying the leaders was the effect of the Shot Clock on how they played and I'm not sure it's actually possible to factor it in anyway but with hindsight, not faffing around and spending too much time thinking about shots has to be a plus for someone in-the-mix trying to win for the first time.
Only four players fell foul of the Shot Clock all week long, so they had plenty of time and the pace of play improved significantly. Whether it will have any benefit elsewhere and whether the pace of play will improve in other events is debatable, but it made for a refreshing change from the norm and like many of Keith Pelley's initiatives, it has to be judged a success.
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