Dustin Johnson holds off Li to secure Saudi Arabia win

World number three wins by two strokes after a 67 with Paul Dunne well off the pace

Dustin Johnson with the trophy after his European Tour win in Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty

Dustin Johnson with the trophy after his European Tour win in Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty

 

Dustin Johnson believes his two-stroke win in the inaugural Saudi International on Sunday will stand him in good stead for another successful year.

The world number three came from one stroke down at the turn to fire a three-under-par final round of 67 and see off his nearest challenger Li Haotong.

The Chinese player had gone into the final 18 on a high after firing four eagles, including a record-breaking three eagle twos, in his third-round 62.

But he fell away over the second half on Sunday, a birdie on the last just enough to see him hold second over England’s fast-finishing Tom Lewis, who hit a five-under-par final round of 65.

Ireland’s only competitor in the field, Paul Dunne, finished in a share of 51st place after he carded a closing round of 72. He finished the tournament on one under par - 18 strokes behind the winner.

Johnson told a press conference: “It feels really good — any time you win a professional golf tournament, no matter where it is in the world, it is a big win.

“The things that I’ve been working on are working and I’ve still got a lot of room for improvement. I’m very pleased with where my game is at.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in what I’m doing and I feel like I’m hitting a lot of really good golf shots. It’s a big win and it gives me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the year.”

Johnson and Li went into the final round level but two early birdies gave the Chinese player the advantage at the turn.

It was a remarkable response from Li, who seven days earlier had been handed a two-stroke penalty at the Dubai Desert Classic for a breach of controversial new alignment rules.

Just when Johnson looked to have wrested the initiative he hit his tee shot into the water at the short 16th and was forced to take a drop, holing a subsequent bogey putt which saw his lead cut to one.

But Johnson responded with consecutive birdies on the final two holes to secure his first European Tour win, and one which the vanquished Li did not begrudge.

Li told a press conference: “I think he deserved to win this event. But I learned a lot and especially those last few holes were good for me.”

Li Haotong finished two shots behind Dustin Johnson. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty
Li Haotong finished two shots behind Dustin Johnson. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty

Lewis finished three shots off the lead after a blazing start to his final round, recording five consecutive birdies over the first five holes.

Yet his round was eclipsed by South Korea’s Lee Min-woo, who finished a stroke further back after his second consecutive seven-under-par 63.

A four-under-par final round made Ian Poulter the next best-placed Briton in sixth, while Bradley Dredge and Ross Fisher were in a share of 13th.

Collated final round scores & totals in the European Tour Saudi International (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 70):

261 Dustin Johnson (USA) 68 61 65 67
263 Haotong Li (Chn) 67 65 62 69
264 Tom Lewis 71 66 62 65
265 Min Woo Lee (Aus) 69 70 63 63
266 Alexander Levy (Fra) 69 65 67 65
269 Scott Hend (Aus) 70 63 69 67, Joost Luiten (Ned) 66 71 69 63, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 67 67 67 68, Ian Poulter 68 67 68 66, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 68 68 68 65
270 Justin Harding (Rsa) 65 72 70 63, Gavin Green (Mal) 68 68 67 67
271 Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 69 71 63 68, Ross Fisher 65 72 65 69, Victor Perez (Fra) 66 70 71 64, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 66 68 70 67, Bradley Dredge 67 70 72 62
272 Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 67 71 67 67, Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 72 65 69 66, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 65 67 70 70, Renato Paratore (Ita) 65 74 65 68
273 Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn) 71 65 70 67, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 63 74 69 67
274 Joachim B. Hansen (Den) 67 70 65 72, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 67 66 71 70, David Lipsky (USA) 71 67 69 67, Chris Paisley 66 68 70 70, Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 69 68 69 68, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 69 69 70 66
275 Liam Johnston 70 66 70 69, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 66 73 64 72, Niklas Lemke (Swe) 68 72 69 66, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 70 70 64 71
276 Matthew Jordan 73 65 67 71, Aaron Rai 69 70 66 71, Robert Rock 69 69 69 69, Sam Horsfield 68 70 69 69, Jake McLeod (Aus) 65 70 73 68, Andrea Pavan (Ita) 71 67 69 69, Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) 68 72 66 70, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 69 71 70 66
277 Jorge Campillo (Spa) 66 72 68 71, Thomas Detry (Bel) 68 70 66 73
278 Robert Karlsson (Swe) 68 69 72 69, Robert Macintyre 69 70 71 68, Justin Walters (Rsa) 66 70 69 73, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 68 69 68 73, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 67 70 69 72, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) 68 70 69 71, Romain Langasque (Fra) 67 70 71 70
279 Paul Dunne 68 69 70 72, Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 68 70 70 71, Matthew Southgate 67 71 71 70
280 Paul Waring 69 70 73 68, Jordan Smith 69 71 70 70
281 Patrick Reed (USA) 67 71 72 71
282 Brooks Koepka (USA) 69 70 74 69, Trevor Immelman (Rsa) 72 67 71 72, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 69 69 72 72, Jens Dantorp (Swe) 69 68 76 69
284 Clement Sordet (Fra) 71 69 73 71, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 70 70 74 70, Alfie Plant 65 74 72 73
285 Stuart Manley 73 66 72 74, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 67 73 76 69

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.