Halfway around the world, while you were enjoying your extra hour of sleep on Saturday night, Dustin Johnson was busy earning what he called "the biggest win I've had in my career so far" — a three-shot triumph at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Against golf's most elite field (minus an absent Tiger Woods), Johnson withstood a final-round challenge from a couple of Ryder Cup stalwarts to post the eighth and most prestigious victory of what has been a stellar six-plus years on Tour.
Early in the final round, any Americans who happened to be watching had to be suffering some alarming Ryder Cup flashbacks. Paired with European Cup stalwarts Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, Johnson squandered his 54-hole three-shot lead, going 1-over for the first seven holes while Poulter and McDowell — and Sergio Garcia a few holes ahead — were firing howitzers, and it seemed as if Johnson would reprise his major heartbreak of years past. He stayed patient, though, and starting at No. 8 went on a tournament-clinching tear that was highlighted by an eagle chip-in at the short par-4 16th that effectively ended the tournament, much to the frustration of defending champion Poulter. "A little disappointed not to put my hands back on the trophy," said Poulter. "But 15 birdies and an eagle at the weekend is some pretty good golf. Dustin finished the job. It was good golf and it was good fun to play in that group."
And especially fun for Americans looking ahead to the 2014 Ryder Cup and seeing Johnson more than hold his own.
Here are the numbers from Johnson's weekend sojourn to China.
-24 Johnson's 24-under par 264 set the HSBC Tournament record.
2 For the second time in this calendar year, Johnson won his first tournament of the season. That's right — thanks to the PGA Tour's new wraparound schedule, the HSBC is part of the new 2013-14 season. Johnson added the HSBC to his season-opening Mercedes win back in January. In other words, Johnson just set a record that will never be broken.
3 With his eighth career win, Johnson is one of only three players under the age of 30 with four or more PGA Tour wins. Rory McIlroy (6) and Webb Simpson (4) are the others.
7 Johnson now has at least one PGA Tour victory in seven consecutive seasons (2008-current). Only Phil Mickelson (10 consecutive years) has a longer active streak. Tiger Woods had a 14-year winning streak from 1996-2009.
1 Johnson is the first player since Tiger Woods (1996-2001) to win in his first seven consecutive seasons straight out of college (2008-current). Woods would stretch that streak to 14 years.