By Sam McPherson
Dustin Johnson shot a closing 66 on Sunday to win the Bridgestone Invitational, his third World Golf Championships event victory in the last four seasons. With 11 PGA Tour wins under his belt now, including with the 2016 U.S. Open Championship, Johnson has quickly shed his reputation as a golfer who can’t close the deal under pressure.
Entering the weekend at 2-over par in the non-cut event, Johnson actually posted back-to-back rounds of 66 to finish the tournament at 6-under, one stroke ahead of Scott Piercy, despite bogeying the 72nd hole of the tournament. Jason Day, the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, lost the final-round lead by shooting 72 on the par-70 Firestone Country Club South course. He finished at 3-under par in a four-way tie for third with Kevin Chappell, Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth.
Johnson’s win — worth $1.62 million — was facilitated by an all-around stellar performance. He finished second among tournament participants in driving distance (341.1-yard average) and putting (1.644 per hole), while tying for fourth in driving accuracy (57.14 percent) and fifth in greens in regulation (62.5 percent). Numbers like that generally suggest a margin of victory larger than one stroke.
Kuchar shot a closing-round 66, leading the field in hitting 65.28 percent of greens in regulation and tying Johnson in driving accuracy. Spieth’s top-ranked putting average (1.548) carried him to a strong 67 on Sunday. Day’s scrambling kept him in the lead for a long time, but in the end, even his prodigious talent couldn’t help him overcome his struggles.
Other notables from the strong field tied for 10th place at even par, including 2015 Players Championship winner Rickie Fowler, two-time top-five U.S. Open finisher Branden Grace, two-time major winner Zach Johnson and 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott. Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson checked in at 1-over par, good enough for 14th place.
With two impressive recent victories, Johnson won’t have to answer any more questions about his ability to close on Sunday. He also becomes a favorite to take the Claret Jug at Royal Troon on July 14-17 in Scotland. Zach Johnson is the defending champion of the Open Championship.
Next On The Tee: The Greenbrier Classic (canceled)
In late June, Tour officials announced the tournament would be canceled due to excessive flooding in the West Virginia region where the event is held.
“We are heartbroken by the devastation that the residents of West Virginia are experiencing at this time and the reports of lives lost due to the terrible flooding,” PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem stated. “Canceling The Greenbrier Classic is certainly the most prudent course of action as our foremost concern is the well-being of those who are having to live through this tragic situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
The normal Tour schedule resumes on July 14-17 with the aforementioned Open Championship in Scotland and the Barbasol Championship in Auburn, Alabama. Piercy is the defending Barbasol champion.
Golf fans can also look forward to the PGA Championship, set to take place July 28-31 at Baltusrol. After that, it’s on to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as the sport returns to the Olympics after a 112-year absence.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.