Dustin Johnson boarded a private jet late Sunday afternoon in Saudi Arabia for the long flight to California. Besides his clubs and luggage, the 2016 U.S. Open champion carried some extra hardware and some added confidence aboard the plane.
Johnson is heading to this week’s AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links (Spyglass Hill and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula C.C. are also used the first three days) – a PGA Tour event he’s won twice – fresh off a two-stroke victory in the PGA European Tour’s inaugural Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.
It was Johnson’s 21st worldwide victory, but first in a “regular” European Tour event (majors and WGC events also count). Johnson remains No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), ahead of good friend and two-time defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, who tied for 57th in Saudi Arabia. Justin Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open winner who missed the cut in Saudi Arabia after winning last week at Torrey Pines, is currently No. 1.
Johnson, 34, entered Sunday’s final round tied with Haotong Li, of the People’s Republic of China, and with nine holes remaining in the tournament, he trailed Li by one stroke. But birdies on four of his last eight holes, including the final two, were good enough for Johnson to hold off Li.
“It’s definitely very nice,” said Johnson. “I didn’t play my best today but found a way to get it done.”
Johnson vaulted into the lead on Friday with a course-record 61, registering seven birdies and an eagle in producing the lowest score of his professional career, and then backed it up with a third-round 65.
On Sunday, he went out in 1-under 35, then bogeyed the 10th hole before posting consecutive birdies on Nos. 11 and 12. Despite a bogey on 16, Johnson rebounded with birdies on 17 and 18, the latter a 607-yard par 5 he reached in two with a driver and 8-iron.
Min Woo Lee, 20, of Australia, the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, carded a 7-under 63 on Sunday to finish fourth in just his second start as a professional. 2015 U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau, a winner last week in Dubai, tied for sixth following a final-round 65.
Now Johnson goes to a place where he’s enjoyed plenty of success. In 11 AT&T National Pro-Am starts, he’s won twice and posted six additional top 10s. He also owned the 54-hole lead in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, site of this year’s U.S. Open.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.