World Number One Dustin Johnson claimed yet another title, as a final round 68 was enough for a two-shot victory at the Saudi International.
Dustin Johnson Wins Saudi International
The American claimed his second Saudi title in three years, as even a number of missed putts couldn’t stop him from winning the title.
Although it wasn’t the most convincing victory, the win cements his position at the top of the world rankings.
The World Number One had started the day with a two shot margin over Frenchman Victor Perez.
But the cushion was soon cut in half, as Perez converted for birdie on the second.
A tap-in birdie at the fourth for the American regained his two shot advantage as the chasing pack struggled to build any momentum over the front nine.
Nearest challenger, Perez, had produced six consecutive pars, but a birdie at the ninth pulled the Frenchman back to within a shot of the lead moving into the back nine.
More missed opportunities came at the 10th and 12th for Johnson, as yet again the 36-year-old struggled on the greens.
With the World Number One missing chances, fellow countryman Tony Finau was making his way up the leaderboard, with three consecutive birdies on the 11th, 12th and 13th putting him in a tie for the lead.
Johnson didn’t seem fazed though as he produced another great wedge shot, which he duly converted to regain his lead on the 13th.
Perez wasn’t out of it, however, and gave himself hope at the 15th as he rolled in his birdie putt to put him one shot back and into solo second, as Finau made consecutive bogies at the 16th and 17th.
More drama was to follow, though, on the 16th, as Perez double-bogeyed and Johnson missed a short par putt. This kept Johnson’s lead at one shot over clubhouse leader Justin Rose.
The World Number One reacted perfectly, making birdie on the penultimate hole and a solid par at the last, resulting in a two-shot victory; his first since his Masters win back in November.
“It was really tough, I knew I was hitting it well and I kept giving myself a lot chances but I couldn’t hole any of them. I kept hitting good shots and holed a really nice putt on 13,
“But it was reading the greens [that] I was struggling with. I read them going right to left and they’d go left to right, so I was just misreading them a little bit” Johnson told Sky Sports.
“I don’t get to play around the world as much as I’d like to, but to it’s nice to get a win not on my tour.
“Obviously, after Augusta, to get my first win shows [my] game is still in really good form and I’m really excited for the rest of the year,” the American added.
Englishman Justin Rose produced his best finish in over six months, as a closing birdie concluded a final round 65 that put him tied second with Tony Finau.
Finau was the bridesmaid yet again. The American has finished runner-up nine times since his last victory in the 2016 Puerto Rico Open.
He had put himself into contention midway through the back nine, but bogies on 16 and 17 cost the 31-year-old dearly.
Calum Hill eagled the last hole for his best ever result on the European Tour.
The Scotsman’s three-under-par round of 67 was good enough for a T4 finish, alongside Perez.
Round of the day came from Denmark’s Rasmus Højgaard, who shot an eight-under-par round of 62.
The 19-year-old is in great form as he produced a Top 10 finish at last week’s Dubai Desert Classic, and his final round vaulted Højgaard nearly 40 places up the leaderboard, for a T6 finish.