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Dustin Johnson romps to 8-shot victory in Hawaii

KAPALUA, Hawaii — A new year brought out the best in Dustin Johnson, who powered his way to 8-under 65 and an eight-shot victory Sunday in the Tournament of Champions.

In a field that featured the top-five players in the world, Johnson made a strong opening statement that a No. 1 ranking he has held for nearly a year might be difficult to take away.

Johnson stretched a two-shot lead to six at the turn, then delivered the biggest moment of the week with a drive on the par-4 12th hole that stopped 6 inches from the cup for a tap-in eagle. He also drove the par-4 14th.

He finished at 24-under 268. The eight-shot margin of victory was his largest ever, and it was one short of the tournament record set by David Duval since this event moved to Kapalua in 1999. Jordan Spieth also won by eight in 2016.

"I knew I was playing well, and it's a golf course I'm really comfortable on," Johnson said. "I was really driving it well this week. I knew as long as I could keep doing that, I was going to do well."

Jon Rahm made his Kapalua debut by closing with 69 to finish second. The 23-year-old from Spain moved to No. 3 in the world.

The way Johnson was playing, everyone was playing for second.

"It's no easy task," said Rahm, who lost to Johnson in the final of Match Play a year ago.

Johnson won for the 17th time on the PGA Tour and the fifth time dating to the Genesis Open at Riviera in February. He has 11 straight seasons winning at least one tournament, the longest current streak on tour.

This one wasn't close in the 34-player field limited to 2017 winners on tour.

He lost a six-shot lead in the final round of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai in the fall, his most recent tour start. It crossed his mind only when it was mentioned to him Saturday. Johnson doesn't let much cross his mind.

"I try to forget everything," he said. "Whether I win or lose."

Then he produced another memorable round.

He had a two-shot lead over Brian Harman, who struggled with his speed on the greens and fell back quickly. Johnson effectively ended the tournament when he made three birdies on the opening six holes, saved par from a front bunker to a back pin on the par-3 eighth, then birdied the par-5 ninth for a six-shot lead.

Harman closed with 72 to finish third.

One shot defined the tournament — a drive on the 433-yard 12th hole that went 432 yards and 6 inches. Johnson, who Saturday holed a 70-yard chip down the hill for eagle, ripped his drive, picked up his tee and walked away. It's a blind shot over the hill, with a strong wind at his back, so he never saw the ball race down the hill, onto the green and head straight to the cup until stopping 6 inches away.

He played the 12th hole in four shots on the weekend.

That stretched his lead to seven shots, and the rout was on.

Dustin Johnson romps to 8-shot victory in Hawaii 01/07/18 [Last modified: Sunday, January 7, 2018 11:12pm]
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