Win lifts Dustin Johnson to world No 3 as Rory McIlroy bemoans "dumb mistakes"
Dustin Johnson recaptured his winning form with a hard-earned victory in the Travelers Championship as Rory McIlroy headed home to "reset and start again" after another stuttering effort on the PGA Tour.
Former world No 1 Johnson is back up to third in the rankings, behind McIlroy and Jon Rahm, after claiming his 21st title triumph on the US circuit with a one-shot win over fellow American Kevin Streelman at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut.
Helped by his 2013 WGC-HSBC Champions win being part of the circuit's "wraparound" campaign, it is the 13th successive season that Johnson has tasted success on the PGA Tour.
Only Arnold Palmer (17), Jack Nicklaus (17) and Tiger Woods (14) have started their careers with wins in more consecutive seasons.
"Anytime you're mentioned with those guys, you've got to feel good about that because they're the best that's ever played this game," admitted the 36-year-old as he savoured his first victory since landing the WGC-Mexico Championship in March 2019.
Johnson, who had started the day two strokes behind another of his compatriots, Brendon Todd, closed with a three-under 67 to finish with a 19-under 261 total, pipping Streelman (67) by a shot.
After Todd's challenge faded following a 7 at the par-4 12th and a bogey two holes later, Johnson held a two-shot lead with three holes remaining when play was suspended due to heavy rain.
The 2016 US Open champion stumbled upon the resumption with a bogey at the par-3 16th but recovered to close with two steady pars.
"It was definitely strange playing with no fans, but you still can feel the pressure, you still can feel how important a golf tournament it is," said Johnson. "Coming down the stretch, to me it felt the same, whether it was a million fans or zero."
Having missed the cut in the Charles Schwab Challenge, which marked the circuit's return following a three-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, he added of the win: "It was big because I hadn't played very well.
"But I put in a lot of good work the last couple weeks after Colonial, and so it's nice to see the game just start coming around."
Despite making 20 birdies and two eagles over the four rounds, world No 1 McIlroy had to settle for a share of 11th on 13-under. A closing 67 was his best final round since the restart, but, all in all, it was another frustrating week for the Northern Irishman.
"There's been some really good stuff in there, but then just some really dumb mistakes that I don't usually make," said McIlroy. "It's a little too up and down, a little bit roller coaster-ish.
"Over the last few weeks, I've made too many mistakes, too many bogeys, too many loose shots. My decision making was terrible the last few days."
This effort came after the four-time major winner tied for 32nd in the Charles Schwab Challenge then had to settle for a share for 41st spot in the RBC Heritage.
Before the lockdown, he'd finished no worse than fifth in his sixth previous starts on the PGA Tour this season.
"I've been frustrated on the course the last three weeks, not being in contention, and sort of sucks going off in the middle of the pack on a Sunday, knowing that you don't really have a chance," he added.
McIlroy is sitting out this week's Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit and will probably return to action in the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in a fortnight's time.
"The way I'm feeling right now, I feel like a couple weeks off," he declared. "Yeah, a couple weeks at home maybe, just reset and start again."
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