On a day filled with record-tying scores, a nearly two-hour weather delay, a drama-filled afternoon, a triple bogey by the eventual winner and a three-man playoff, two familiar names returned to the top of the podium at LIV Golf Tulsa in Oklahoma, USA.
Dustin Johnson won the individual trophy for the second time in his LIV Golf career with a birdie on the first playoff hole to defeat Branden Grace and Cameron Smith. While Grace’s Stinger GC also won for the second time, by one stroke over the 4Aces in a victory sealed by Grace’s par putt on the final hole of regulation.
With his win Sunday at Cedar Ridge Country Club on Sunday, Johnson becomes the third two-time winner in LIV Golf, joining Brooks Koepka and Talor Gooch, and he moves to sixth in the individual points standings after a slow start to his season.
Sunday was a day of low scores, with Smith and Harold Varner III tying the LIV record-low score of 61 (9 under) set by Grace in Friday’s first round. Yet when play was suspended two hours into the final round, Johnson appeared in control, with a three-shot lead over Grace.
But then play resumed, and the leaderboards tightened. At the par-4 10th, the most difficult hole this week, Johnson’s tee shot landed left of the cart path, and his second shot got away from him, finding the water on the left side of the green. After a penalty stroke, his fourth shot found the greenside rough. He found the green on his fifth shot, then two-putted for triple bogey. That left Grace as the leader, with Johnson a stroke back.
Johnson steadied himself with a birdie on the next hole to tie Grace atop the leaderboard, but now the hopes were raised for several chasers in the pack – primarily Smith, who was reeling off four consecutive birdies at the time. When Smith birdied his final hole for his 61, he had the solo lead at 17 under. Grace then birdied 17 to tie Smith at 17 under with one hole to play. Johnson, his playing partner in the final group, was at 16 under. But Johnson then rolled in a clutch birdie putt on the final hole to join the playoff. Meanwhile, Grace sealed the Team Stinger win with his par putt to finish with a 5-under 65 to go with counting rounds from Dean Burmester (64) and Charl Schwartzel (66).
On the playoff hole, all three players saw their approach shots finish in the same general area below the hole. Grace missed his attempt, then Johnson knocked his in. Smith had the closest look but for one of the few times Sunday could not find the bottom of the cup.
For Johnson, the timely victory gives him plenty of momentum going into this week’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill. “I feel like I’m doing everything really well right now,” Johnson said. “I’m really looking forward to next week.”
There are 18 LIV golfers playing in this week’s PGA Championship, although a notable absentee will be Sergio Garcia, who will be missing his first major start in 24 years after his world ranking – 189 – dropped well below the mark required to earn an invitation. The 43-year-old Spaniard’s five-year exemption to the event courtesy of his 2017 Masters’ win ran out last year.
For all the scores from LIV Golf Tulsa, click here.
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