Dustin Johnson is the No. 1 golfer in the world.
With the crowd at Riviera Country Club chanting “No. 1, No. 1,” the Irmo native posted a dominant win in the Genesis Open to rise to the top of the World Golf Rankings for the first time in his career. The Coastal Carolina alum closed with a final-round 71 to finish with a 17-under 267.
“It sounds good,” Johnson said after the victory and rising to world No. 1. “It’s been a long journey. Growing up as a kid playing golf … the dream is playing on the PGA Tour. I never really thought about being No. 1 in the world, but once I got on tour and started winning some, I got in the top 10 in the world, I knew it was definitely doable. Here I am, made it to No. 1.”
In addition to climbing past Jason Day and Jordan Spieth in the World Golf Rankings, Johnson’s victory also propelled him to No. 6 in the FedEx Cup standings. His victory was greeted by his pregnant fiancee Paulina Gretzky and their son Tatum.
Johnson’s ascent in the rankings has been steady, highlighted by winning the 2016 U.S. Open, the first major tournament victory of his career.
In a decade-long PGA Tour career, Johnson has won at least one tournament every year since his rookie season. With Sunday’s victory, he’s won 13 times in 10 seasons.
Besides the U.S. Open, in 2016 Johnson won the WGC-Bridgestone (a World Golf Championship event) and the BMW Championship, part of the Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs. In total, he cashed checks for more than $9 million, best in professional golf, while leading the Tour in scoring average and top-10 finishes.
Johnson opened the PGA Tour event with back-to-back 66s, but separated himself from the star-studded field in the third round.
Johnson birdied his last three holes Sunday morning for a 7-under 64, giving him a five-shot lead. He was in such complete control that he missed only three greens and his longest par putt was 4 feet.
South Carolina golfers dominated the leaderboard. In addition to Johnson, Scott Brown, Wesley Bryan and Bill Haas all finished in the top 11.
Brown, a North Augusta native had a 4-under final round to finish tied for second place. The USC Aiken alum (68-68-69-67–272) moved closer to clinching his first berth in the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.
It was a tremendous showing for Bryan, a PGA Tour rookie. The Dutch Fork and University of South Carolina alum finished tied for fourth place after carding a final round 72. Bryan, known for his trick shots followed back-to-back 69s in the first two rounds with a third-round best 63.
Haas, a Greenville resident and son of Jay Haas, has been one of the steadiest players on tour in recent years. He finished tied for 11th at 9-under after rounds of 71-71-64-69.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of Johnson’s victory was the amount of golf he played on Sunday. He had only about 15 minutes from when he finished the third round to when he started the fourth at the weather-delayed event. The Genesis Open lost one hour to fog on Thursday, seven hours to the massive rainstorm that swept through Los Angeles on Friday and two hours Saturday morning to clean up the golf course.
Johnson started the fourth round with a two-putt birdie on the opening hole that stretched his lead even more.
There was nothing spectacular about his game except for the power that makes him such an intimidating presence when he knows where the ball is going. Rather, Johnson never put himself in a position to make a big number.
He finished the third round at 41 consecutive holes without a bogey.
Johnson came up short on the par-3 fourth hole, chipped to 4 feet and made the par putt. He went just long on the par-3 14th and hit a simple chip to tap-in range. And he was short of the 15th green, used putter to lag it up to just inside 4 feet and had no trouble saving par.
Along the way, he kept picking up enough birdies to seemingly give no one else a chance.
Johnson hit driver on the par-4 ninth hole, and he dipped his knees asking for it to cut a little more to the right. It sailed well over the bunker, and Pat Perez stood to the side of the tee just shaking his head. Perez went into the bunker and made bogey.
Perez had his own issues. A drive to the right on No. 12 that sounded as though it struck a tree actually hit a fan in the top of the head and bloodied him. Perez one-hopped a tee shot of another spectator’s chest on the next hole, and hit yet another in the arm on the 15th. He dropped three shots in a five-shot span and shot 74.
Because the groups stayed the same for the final two rounds, Bryan finished his 12-under 201 as Johnson was on the back nine. Bryan was on the third green of the fourth round when Johnson was finishing up, and he saw Johnson belt another 300-yard drive up the fairway.
Johnson finished the second round with three birdies over his last four holes. On Sunday morning, he holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th, smartly played away from the flag and the slope on the par-5 17th and made a 12-foot birdie, then closed with an 8-foot birdie.
Day could have protected his position in the world ranking by finishing among the top three, but the Australian shot 75 in the third round and was 19 shots behind entering the final round.
Day has been at No. 1 since winning the Dell Match Play last March.