Golf

Dustin Johnson tames the Wild West

Dustin Johnson holds up his trophy on the 18th green of Pebble Beach golf links after winning the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010. Johnson finished at 16 under for the tournament. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Dustin Johnson holds up his trophy on the 18th green of Pebble Beach golf links after winning the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010. Johnson finished at 16 under for the tournament. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dustin Johnson joined elite company with his victory in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Sunday.

Johnson, a Columbia native who lives in Myrtle Beach, became the sixth player to win back-to-back titles at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Most of the others are in the Hall of Fame: Sam Snead, Cary Middlecoff, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. Mark O'Meara could join them.

"That's not a bad list," Johnson said. "Anytime you're on a list with those guys, you're doing all right."

Johnson also became the first player to win Pebble Beach with a birdie on the 72nd hole from the final group since Davis Love III in 2003.

Perhaps the most impressive of all?

Johnson became the first player since Tiger Woods to go straight from college and win in each of his first three years on the PGA Tour.

The question is how much better he can get.

"As long as I keep playing the way I'm playing, I don't think there's anything that I can't do," Johnson said. "It's all up to me. I've got to keep working hard and keep practicing hard, and good things will come."

With the victory, worth $1,116,000, Johnson moves to second on the money list with $1,682,450, trailing Steve Stricker ($1,686,000).

Johnson moved up to No. 2 in the Ryder Cup standings and would seem to be an important cog on the U.S. team because of his length.

Ultimately, that was what carried him to victory.

Johnson won the tournament with a birdie on the last hole, starting with a monster tee shot.

"All-world," runner-up Paul Goydos said of the drive.

Johnson is one of the few players who could get home in two on the 525-yard closing hole, which played into an ocean breeze with fairways that are soft and damp this time of the year.

Playing well on the West Coast is nothing new for Johnson. He started his rookie season in 2008 with three top-12s in his first four events, and his win at Pebble Beach was part of another strong start to the season last year.

"Courses (there) are usually pretty big and pretty soft, and that plays into his strength of being a longer hitter," said Allen Terrell, Johnson's swing coach and his golf coach when Johnson was at Coastal Carolina.

"The ball just doesn't carry that far. Some guys statistically look like they drive it far but they get a lot of roll. Carry-wise, he probably carries it farther than anyone. When you're getting no roll, he's definitely at an advantage. He definitely feels comfortable on the West Coast."

Johnson graced the cover of last week's Golfweek magazine.

It features a smiling Johnson holding a pool stick and is titled: "Right on Cue: Emerging Dustin Johnson puts game and life in order."

The six-page story details Johnson's career, talent, development, troubles and maturation, and it is followed by three pages of drills and instruction he uses.

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