Dustin Johnson is the King of Royal Greens in Saudi Arabia

KAEC | Updated on February 08, 2021

Dustin Johnson won his second Saudi International in three years – he was second once – as he showcased his preference for the Saudi International. Though he was not really in trouble, he still had to stave off a challenge from Tony Finau and Victor Perez.

The PGA Tour’s top star, Johnson, who is the World Number One, won his third title in eight starts and the fourth in 13, as he cemented his position at the top of the world rankings. He has a huge lead of more than three-and-a-half average points over second ranked Jon Rahm. India’s sole player in the field, Shubhankar Sharma, missed the halfway cut.

Johnson, who won the inaugural event here two years ago before finishing runner-up to Graeme McDowell 12 months later, carded a closing 68 at the Royal Greens Golf and Country club to finish on 15 under par. That was two clear of Finau and Justin Rose.

“Conditions when we started were really tough,” Johnson said. “I knew I was hitting it well, I saw the leaderboard and I knew the guys were playing well.

“I kept giving myself chances - I didn't hole any of them, but I hit good shots and I finally holed a really nice putt on 13 and from there on I played solid.”

He added: “Couldn't hole any putts today. Just the reads, I'd see it going left to right it would go right to left; I'd see it going right to left it would go left to right. It was tough all day today.

Perez had been progressing patiently and a fine approach to six feet on the 15th saw him join Finau one adrift of the leader.

Finau three putted the 16th to drop two back, although Johnson and Perez in the group behind also found problems on the par three. The Frenchman hit his tee shot into a swale to the right of the green and, after pitching through the putting surface, ran up a double bogey to end his challenge.

Johnson failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker but, after Finau had bogeyed the 17th attempting to force the issue, Johnson produced a magnificent drive on the same hole to leave a simple up and down for birdie.

There was still some drama to be had on the last – Finau was a whisker away from holing out from the sand for eagle, while Johnson found a bunker off the tee and almost picked out another trap with his lay-up.

However, once his ball settled on the fairway, he was able to conservatively pitch to the middle of the green and two putt for the win.

Rose made five birdies in a flawless closing 65, while Perez missed a birdie chance on the last to finish alongside Scotland's Callum Hill in fourth.

Published on February 08, 2021

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