At one stage, Dustin Johnson just seemed to be running away with the Travelers Championship on Sunday and then slipped not once but twice and in the end managed a one-shot win over Kevin Streelman at TPC River Highlands.
It was Johnson’s first win since March 2019. It also extended his career-long season victory streak to 13 straight years as he held his swagger and nerves at crucial moments to come through a victor. Todd failed to hold his nerves and Streelman failed to hole his birdies. Young Will Gordon (64), an invitee this week, ended Tied-third to earn Special Temporary Status for the rest of the season and that could well change his career after having had no status anywhere till last week.
Johnson closed with a 3-under 67 for a total of 19-under 261 for his 21stPGA Tour win as Streelman (67) was 18-under 262.
Johnson started the day two behind Brendon Todd (75) caught up soon at the end of the fifth. He bogeyed seventh, but birdied eighth and ninth to turn in three-under and in lead. When he putted out from off the green and up the heel and through the fringe from more than 24 feet, he must have had the TV audiences jumping. That put him at four-under. With Todd parring his first 11 holes, Johnson was running away.
Then came a horrendous triple bogey for Todd as he compounded one error after another and fell off the cliff and Streelman became the main rival.
Streelman made no bogeys through the day, but missed many a birdie chance and had just two in his first 10 holes and only one after that on Par-5 13th, where Johnson made a hash of it with a bogey. That opened the gates for Streelman, but he could not take advantage. It was his last birdie, while Johnson rebounded with a birdie on 14thand could still afford a bogey on 16thwith another driving error. With Streelman not making gains, Johnson stayed on course for a win.
Back in 2014, Streelman made seven straight birdies to win at TPC River Highlands and this time he had a 37-foot birdie putt on 18th but ended short and to the right.
In between, the siren sounded Streelman was two shots behind Johnson on the 17th fairway. There was an hour-long storm delay but when play resumed Johnson dropped a shot on 16th. Johnson hit his tee shot into a greenside bunker and his second shot went well past the hole and made bogey. The lead was down to one.
A hole earlier on 15th, Johnson at 19-under hit his tee shot stopped inches from going into the lake. He took off his shoes, rolled up his trousers and pitched out but failed to get to the green. He managed that with the third to four feet and saved par.
Johnson said, “I’m definitely proud of myself for continuing the streak and I want to keep it going. It was a long time between wins, though, and, so, hopefully it won’t be that long for the next one.”
Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus each won in 17 consecutive years. Johnson did not win in 2014, but he is given credit for winning in the 2013-14 season from his victory in the fall of 2013 in Shanghai. The TOUR changed to a wraparound season in 2013.
Mackenzie Hughes, whose first round 60 set alight the tournament, closed with a 67 including a birdie-birdie finish for 17-under and tied for third with Will Gordon, 23, at 17 under. Hughes made two monster birdie putts on the last two holes – from 48-feet on 17 and from 43-feet on 18th.
Gordon came here on an invite and had no status on either PGA or Korn Ferry, where he was due to play Finals of Qualifying Series, which got cancelled. Gordon shot 66-62 on the first two days and was in contention but slipped with 71 on third. He needed a tie for third or better to gain a special temporary status enabling him unlimited invites for the remainder of the season.
Gordon was six-under through 16 with no bogeys before he bogeyed the 17thto drop to fourth. He had a must-make birdie on 18th. He made it and closed with 64 and waited till the end to his final position.
At Tied-third with Hughes, it was just enough for him to earn a temporary status and unlimited exemptions.
“I knew the higher the better, so I was watching the leaderboard coming in,” he said.
Todd shot a 75, including a triple bogey seven on Par-4 12th, to tie for 11th at 13 under. Bryson DeChambeau shot a 68 to tie for sixth at 15 under. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy tied for 11th at 13 under after a 67. Phil Mickelson followed up his opening rounds of 64 and 63 with two 71s to finish at 11 under.