LOS ANGELES: World number one Dustin Johnson powered to an eight-shot triumph at the US PGA Tour Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Johnson’s masterful display off the tee at the par-73 Plantation Course at Kapalua included a near hole-in-one at the par-four 12th hole — where his drive left him a six-inch tap-in for eagle.
He carded an eight-under par 65 for 24-under 268 and his 17th US PGA Tour triumph, seemingly impervious to the wind and intermittent rain throughout the round.
“I knew I was playing well and it’s a golf course that I’m really confident on,” Johnson said.
“I’ve really been driving the ball (well) this week,” added the American, who has a new driver in his bag. “I knew as long as I could keep doing that I was going to play well.”
Spain’s Jon Rahm was second after a 69 for 276 and is projected to rise from number four to number three in the world thanks to his runner-up finish.
Brian Harman, who started the day two shots behind Johnson atop the leaderboard, closed with a one-under 72 for sole possession of third place on 277.
It was a further stroke back to Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (66) and Americans Pat Perez (69) and Rickie Fowler (70).
Matsuyama played his last seven holes in five-under par with the aid of an eagle on the par-five 15th, where he landed his approach shot 10 feet from the pin.
But Johnson had put himself out of reach of all pursuers in the elite 34-player event for 2017 tournament winners.
He raced away from the field with four birdies on the front nine.
His only miscue of the day was at the par-three 11th, where he was in a bunker off the tee en route to a bogey.
He responded in magnificent style with his monster drive setting up his eagle at the 12th, and he padded his lead with three straight birdies at 14, 15, and 16.
His eight-shot margin of victory was the biggest of his career.
The win was especially satisfying after his final-round collapse at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai in October, when Johnson led by six through three rounds but stumbled to a closing 77 to finish tied for second behind Justin Rose.
“After China, where I struggled a little bit on Sunday, I didn’t want to back down,” Johnson said. “Even when I made the turn, I think I was 20-under I told myself to get it to 25. I kind of just kept the pedal down.”
Johnson, who seized the world number one ranking last February, has now won at least one US tour title for 11 straight years.
“Obviously I got off to a great start and I want to keep it going,” Johnson said of his 2018 opener. “Things are going in the right direction.”