Dustin Johnson Wins RBC Canadian Open with Help of Monster Wedge Shot
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
Dustin Johnson was not at his best two weeks ago when he failed to make the cut at the British Open in Scotland. Push those bad memories aside as Johnson has powered his way back by winning the RBC Canadian Open in dramatic fashion. He entered play on Sunday in a four-way tie for the lead but quickly separated himself from the pack.
The most dramatic shot of the day from the 34-year-old player from South Carolina came when he approached his ball following his tee shot on the par-five No. 16 hole. Johnson’s drive sailed left of the fairway and into the rough. There was some speculation that the result may be a par or even worse a bogey.
Instead, Johnson pulled out a wedge and hit a monster second shot to the green causing cheers from the audience and disbelief from TV commentators. The ball rolled slightly off the green only inches into the rough. Still, TV commentators were completely stunned that Johnson was able to hit the wedge so far and to set himself up for another birdie on the day.
“No... that's not possible,” commentator Frank Nobilo said during the broadcast. “That… is unbelievable."
“That's when strength counts,” 1991 Open Championship winner and co-analyst Ian Baker-Finch added as they watched the ball come to a rest.
Johnson proved to be a fan favorite for many of the Canadian fans that followed his play. His fiancé is the daughter of legendary NHL hockey player Wayne Gretzky. Plus, the golfer has a spokesperson contract with title sponsor RBC. Occasionally during the four rounds, fans could be heard cheering “Wayne” and “Go Oilers” which were references to Gretzky’s former team the Edmonton Oilers.
“It was great all week, I had a lot of support out there, a lot of fans following me,” Johnson said. “With my ties to Canada with Paulina and then her dad being Wayne Gretzky, it definitely helps. I get a lot of fans that pull for Wayne, they pull for me.”
Even though the golfer has ties to Canada in a famous way it was his level of play that gave fans something to cheer about. Johnson started the event with a 68 followed by a 66 during round two on Friday. Saturday was his best outing where he carded a 65 followed by another 66 on Sunday. He went -23 overall for the tournament shooting a total of 265.
That score put him three strokes over both Byeong Hun An and Whee Kim, both from South Korea. Keegan Bradley shot an impressive round of 64 on Sunday but it was not enough to recover from a 73 shot on Saturday. Keegan entered weekend play after a round of 63 on Friday. Johnson said he knew he was doing good despite his level of play at the British Open as he battled with Kim, Whee, and Bradley.
“Even after the missed cut last week, I felt like I was hitting it fine,” Johnson said following his 19th PGA Tour win. “I just did not score very well at Carnoustie (Scotland) at all. I didn't putt good. I just scored really badly. But I felt like I hit the ball plenty good enough to be under par after two days, and I was 5 over or something. It was just bad scoring.”
Bradley said, following his comeback effort on Sunday, that he was not sure about what happened on Saturday.
“Yesterday's round was a weird round,” Bradley said. “I didn't play all that bad, but I didn't score very well.”
Johnson put the bad outing in Scotland well in the rearview mirror as he used his driver to blast long drives setting up several impressive second shots including the wedge blast mentioned above. He averaged 324 yards off the tee on Sunday while hitting 10 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation. That was the key to outpacing the three players behind him to win the 2018 RBC Canadian Open.
Although Tiger Woods was not in the field for the Canadian Open his name did come up at the end of the tournament. Johnson became the first golfer since Woods in 2009 to win three times, or more, on the PGA Tour in three consecutive seasons. It was something that Johnson was proud to comment on when it was pointed out to him following his final round on Sunday.
“The way (Woods) played for that stretch was just incredible,” Johnson said when speaking of Woods. “What he has done for the game and the things he has done within the game, no one is really ever going to get to that level. It motivated me, and I've definitely improved my game in the last few years.”