Dustin Johnson showed two weeks ago at Oakmont Country Club that he can handle a deficit after 54 holes, as he shot a final-round 69 to climb from four shots back to win the 116th U.S. Open. On Sunday, at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, he proved that his final-round moxie in western Pennsylvania was no fluke.
Starting the day three strokes behind world No. 1 Jason Day and U.S. Open co-runner-up Scott Piercy at Firestone Country Club, Johnson fired a second consecutive 66 to prevail in his first start since winning the U.S. Open. That feat puts Johnson in select company.
Last year, in his first start after edging Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen by a stroke to win the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, Jordan Spieth claimed victory in the John Deere Classic. In doing so, he became the first player since Ernie Els in 1997 to win the U.S. Open and then win his next PGA Tour start.
While it has now happened two straight years, a player winning the U.S. Open and then his next start does not happen often. Hale Irwin pulled it off in 1990, and before that, one has to go all the way back to 1966, when Billy Casper won the Western Open the week after his memorable playoff victory over Arnold Palmer at The Olympic Club.
Johnson also joined Geoff Ogilvy and Tiger Woods as the third player to win the U.S. Open and a World Golf Championships (WGC) event in the same year since the WGC series began in 1999. Ogilvy won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in 2006, less than four months before he claimed the U.S. Open title at Winged Foot Golf Club. Woods claimed WGC titles during all three seasons in which he won the U.S. Open (2000, 2002, 2008).
Spieth and 1997 U.S. Amateur champion Matt Kuchar finished tied for third at Firestone.
Johnson and Spieth were joined by a pair of other recent U.S. Open champions with strong performances over the weekend. Rory McIlroy (2011) finished five strokes back of winner Thongchai Jaidee to claim third place in the French Open at Le Golf National in Paris, while 2014 champion Martin Kaymer was two strokes farther back in a tie for fifth.
Another Close Call for Knost
Since winning the 2007 U.S. Amateur and U.S. Amateur Public Links championships, Colt Knost has been trying to find his footing in the professional ranks. He seems to finally be hitting his stride. Knost, who turned 31 last week, notched his third top-5 performance in five starts on Sunday, finishing alone in third place in the Barracuda Championship at Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno, Nev. Traditionally contested opposite the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the Barracuda Championship is the only event on the PGA Tour schedule that is conducted using a modified version of the Stableford scoring system, where the competitor with the most points wins. Knost finished the event with 35 points, 8 points behind winner Greg Chalmers. Knost made seven birdies during the final round, thanks in part to some precise shot-making.
With the third-place finish, Knost moved up to 40th in the FedEx Cup standings. He has competed in the playoffs on two occasions, but has never finished higher than 91st in the final point tally.
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