Dustin Johnson exorcised some of his Shanghai demons as the world No 1 started 2018 by storming to an eight-shot success in the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
The 33-year-old signed off with an eight-under-par 65 at Kapalua to claim his second victory in the event, repeating a 2013 triumph by a sizeable margin in the limited-field tournament.
Helped by an eagle-2 at the par-4 12th, where he almost had a hole-in-one, in the final round, Johnson finished with a 24-under-par 268 total as he ended up well clear of his closest challenger, Spaniard Jon Rahm, with American Brian Harman a shot further back in third place.
“I felt like I had a good game plan for the course and I knew I just needed to drive it well, that was my big thing,” said Johnson as he celebrated the 17th win of his career.
“I put the new [TaylorMade] M4 driver in last week and I drove it fantastic this week.”
The manner of the win was particularly pleasing for Johnson after he’d blown a six-shot lead the last time he’d been out in front heading into the final day.
That was in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China late last year, when Justin Rose was the beneficiary of a spectacular collapse by the American.
“I didn’t want to let up on the back nine, especially after what had happened in Shanghai - I didn’t want that to happen again,” he added.
“I had a six-shot lead and that was a really difficult day. I just didn’t do anything very good and I ended up losing. So I definitely came out today with a lot of focus.
“I didn’t want it to have to come down to the last couple holes. After what happened in Shanghai, I wanted to prove to myself that ain’t going to happen again.”
Johnson has now won at least once for the past 11 seasons on the PGA Tour - a streak bettered only by Tiger Woods.
“Winning every year out here on Tour so far is big for me,” he admitted. “I’m very proud of being able to do that. It’s not easy to win out here.
A lot of seasons I’ve only had one win, but last year was my most (four) and hopefully I can do even better than that this year.”
Johnson’s next event is on the European Tour, where he joins the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson in the Abu Dhabi Championship in just over a week’s time.
Rahm, the DP World Tour champion, carded a 69 in his final round to edge out Harman (72) for second spot.
The effort lifted Rahm to world No 3 - the fourth youngest player in history to reach as high as that in the rankings.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama tied for fourth after making an eagle and two birdies in the last four holes.
Australian Marc Leishman, who was the joint leader at the halfway stage but carded a 76 on Saturday, finished tied for seventh on 13 under, while Jordan Spieth was a shot behind in ninth.