Johnson rallies in Tulsa for 1st LIV Golf title of ’23

Sports

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — Dustin Johnson overcame a triple bogey Sunday by making birdie on the 18th hole to join a playoff and another birdie on the 18th to win LIV Golf Tulsa for his first win this year.

The victory was Johnson’s second since he joined LIV Golf a year ago. He also won outside Boston in a three-man playoff.

This one required some clutch shots on the closing hole at rain-soaked Cedar Ridge for Johnson to take down British Open champion Cameron Smith and Branden Grace.

Johnson, who closed with a 3-under 67, was trailing Smith (61) and Grace (65) by one shot when he hit his drive into the left rough on the 18th, partially blocked by a tree. He hit sand wedge over the corner of the tree to about 12 feet and made the birdie.

Smith was on the range waiting, having already birdied the 18th for his 61, tying the LIV record that Grace set in the opening round. Grace two-putted from 35 feet on the final hole, which put him in a playoff and assured his South African team “Stinger” its first team win of the year.

In the playoff, all three players were roughly on the same line, with Grace putting from the fringe. Grace missed to the left, Johnson holed his putt from 15 feet and Smith missed from 12 feet to the right of the hole.

All of this was made possible by Johnson making a mess of the par-3 10th hole. He had a shot bounce down a path into the water, a muddy lie and missed 4-foot putt. It added to a triple bogey, allowing Grace to take the lead.

“Everything I could do wrong, I did wrong on the hole,” Johnson said “To fight back and birdie 18 two times in a row when I had to, I’m really happy with that.”

He was equally happy to see a good result heading into the second major of the year. The PGA Championship starts Thursday at Oak Hill.

Until Sunday, Johnson had not finished closer than within five shots of the winner in five LIV Golf events. He was never a factor at the Masters. Now he feels as though his game is ready.

“I’m really playing well,” Johnson said.

Talor Gooch, coming off two straight LIV Golf victories, played before a home state crowd in Oklahoma. He finished in a tie for 36th.

Lee Westwood withdrew before the final round, saying he injured his left leg during a lengthy run on the treadmill. He is not in the PGA Championship next week and expects to be ready for the next LIV event at Trump National outside Washington.

Of the six players who went to Oklahoma for school, Eugenio Chacarra had the best finish. He shot 66 and tied for fifth.

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