Dustin Johnson defends Pebble Beach National Pro-Am title
PEBBLE BEACH – Dustin Johnson had to work a lot longer – and harder – for another victory at Pebble Beach.
With a birdie from the bunker on the 18th hole Sunday, Johnson became the first player in 20 years to win back-to-back Pebble Beach National Pro-Am titles, closing with a 2-over 74 for a one-shot victory over David Duval and J.B. Holmes.
It certainly wasn’t as easy as last year, when Johnson was declared the winner after 54 holes because of rain.
Johnson posted the highest final round by a Pebble Beach champion since Johnny Miller closed with a 74 in 1994. But when he stepped onto the tee at the famous par-5 18th that runs along the Pacific Ocean, he knew a birdie would make up for everything.
“It’s such a gorgeous hole,” Johnson said. “If you miss it a little left, it’s not so pretty.”
He hammered the tee shot, put his approached into a simple lie in the front bunker and blasted out to just over 3 feet. Johnson lightly pumped his fist when he made the putt, becoming the first player in seven years to win with a birdie on the 72nd hole from the final group.
Johnson, 25, is the first player since Tiger Woods to come out of college and win in each of his first three years on the PGA Tour.
His birdie ended the hopes of Duval, who last won at the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour at the end of the 2001 season and has fallen so far that he is playing this year on sponsors’ exemptions. He closed with a 69, the first time since the 2001 Buick Challenge that he shot in the 60s for an entire tournament.
The real heartache, however, belonged to Paul Goydos.
Despite giving up some 50 yards off the tee, Goydos had a one-shot lead with five holes to play until he wound up on the wrong side of the par-5 14th green and took a quadruple-bogey 9 to end his hopes.
Duval didn’t have the length to reach the 18th, and his third shot came up just short enough to spin down the slope to 30 feet. He missed the putt, then headed to the putting green with his children looking on.
Holmes couldn’t reach the 18th because he was in the right rough, and he missed a 12-foot birdie putt.
Johnson finished at 16-under 270. He is only the fifth player to win back-to-back at Pebble Beach, and the first since Mark O’Meara in 1990. Johnson moved to No. 2 in the Ryder Cup standings, and joins Sean O’Hair as the only Americans in their 20s with three wins.
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