Dustin Johnson wins WGC-Mexico Championship while Tiger Woods struggles with putter

by Samuel Abasi Posted on February 25th, 2019

Mexico City, Mexico: While Dustin Johnson’s clubs spoke loudly all week and Justin Thomas roared by tying his own course record Sunday, Tiger Woods didn’t have much to say at the end of the WGC-Mexico Championship.

For the second consecutive day, Woods refused to meet with the media after the round and only spoke to a PGA Tour media official.

But his body language spoke volumes on the weekend as an ice-cold putter left him frustrated throughout the tournament.

Five three-putts and one four-putt will do that to you. Especially after Woods had six three-putts the previous week in the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. Over the course of four rounds in the Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec, Woods needed 121 putts, including 35 on Saturday.

With his Scotty Cameron Newport putter he’s used to win 13 of his 14 majors leaving him cold, Woods never could gain momentum and his rounds of 71-66-70-69 left him at 8 under and in a tie for 10th, 13 shots behind Johnson.

“Unfortunately, I just did not putt well the last couple weeks and it has not been very good,” said Woods, who is at least trending in the right direction with his results, as he finished in a tie for 20th in his first start of the year and in a tie for 15th in his second start.

“Well, I’ll do a little bit of practicing. I’ll be doing a lot of training and try and be ready for the next couple weeks.”

Woods will take this week off before returning to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks. He’ll play The Players the following week.

While Woods sputtered, Johnson rolled. With rounds of 64-67-66-66, he finished at 21 under to win by five over Rory McIlroy. Johnson’s 263 is the lowest total by five shots in the three years the tournament has been played here. The previous low was set by Phil Mickelson last year.

“I struggled the last couple of weeks after the win in (Saudi Arabia),” Johnson said. “Even though I won there, I didn’t feel like the game was in great form. The last couple weeks I’ve really struggled with the game. But I got here on Monday and talked to Butch (Harmon, his swing coach) about what I was feeling that was different (from) two years ago when I was here. And I worked on it and it clicked a little bit.

“I hit it really well this week.”

The victory was Johnson’s 20th on the PGA Tour and his sixth WGC title. Only Woods, with 18, has more WGC titles.

“To get to 20 wins out here is difficult,” Johnson said. “And to do it before I turn 35 is pretty incredible. It definitely means a lot. This is a big win for me. It gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the year. And I feel like the game is in good form right now.”

The win wasn’t easy. After taking a four-shot lead after 54 holes, Johnson’s edge over McIlroy was just two after three holes. He kicked it back up to four with a birdie on the sixth to McIlroy’s bogey, and his lead was at least three shots the rest of the way.

McIlroy didn’t make it easy as he birdied six of his last eight holes to finish at 16 under. Since winning last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy has played in the final group on Sunday eight times without winning.

McIlroy is 54 under par in his last four PGA Tour starts. And for the first time in his Tour career, he has four consecutive top-5 finishes.

“It’s been a little bit since I’ve had a lead with this kind of field and this caliber of players. I know Rory is playing really well. So I definitely felt some nerves there at the beginning of the day,” Johnson said. “I made some really good par saves early in the round on the front nine and that kind of gave me the momentum.

“And I knew I was still swinging it well, I just had to give myself some chances. And I turned it on on the back nine.”

Thomas turned it on from the get-go as he birdied his first four holes. He had another string of four consecutive birdies around the turn and he started eyeing 59. Thomas, who shot the course record of 9-under-par 62 in the third round last year en route to losing a playoff to Mickelson, had a 14-footer for birdie on his final hole to break the record. It slid by the right side.

“I hit a really good putt,” said Thomas, who has nine PGA Tour titles, including the 2017 PGA Championship. “I would have loved to have broken the record, but you can never be disappointed with a 62.”

This week he defends his title at the Honda Classic.

“I feel I’m really, really close to reeling off some wins,” said Thomas, who played in the final group on Sunday in his last two starts before the Mexico Championship. “All I can do is just keep doing the best I can.”

Woods and Johnson will do the same.

Image: Dustin Johnson celebrates his 20th career title.

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Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

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