MIAMI (Reuters) - American Dustin Johnson overcame J.B. Holmes’s five-stroke final-round lead for a one-shot victory at the WGC-Cadillac Championships on Sunday, just over a month after returning from a half-year break from the game.
Johnson, in his fifth tournament since taking a leave of absence in July to deal with personal issues, carded a three-under 69 at Trump National Doral for his ninth PGA Tour win.
“All of them are good but this one might be the best for sure,” said Johnson, who kept his cool on the difficult 18th, which he had bogeyed in his three previous rounds, to make par and secure the win.
“I’ve been working hard on my game and been working hard on me, and so it means a great deal to have some success right out of the gate. It gives me a lot of confidence, too,” said Johnson.
Holmes, who led the tournament after each of the first three rounds at Doral, quickly lost ground with three early bogeys. He dropped another stroke at 14 but made a birdie two holes later to salvage a three-over 75 that left him alone in second place.
“Dustin played a great round,” said Holmes, “I knew it was going to take a good round to beat me, even if I had a little bit of an off-day and 69 out here is pretty freaking good.”
Holmes said he was not surprised to find himself in a thre-way scrap at the top having come into the final round in command.
“It always ends up that way. You just expect it. Very rarely does somebody have that big lead and hold it through the whole day. The guys are good out here.”
Johnson also came within inches of another hole-in-one on the par-three fourth hole - which he and Holmes had both aced on Saturday.
Masters champion Bubba Watson, who led by two strokes at the turn and looked ready to run away with the tournament, finished in third after his four-under 32 on the front nine was undone by three bogeys over a four-hole stretch on the back nine.
Australia’s Adam Scott (71) and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson (72) finished tied for fourth.
World number one Rory McIlroy, who struggled with his ball-striking throughout the week, finished tied for ninth, eight shots behind Johnson, after an even-par he shot even-par 72 that was capped by a double-bogey on the 18th.
Editing by Frank Pingue/Peter Rutherford