Rory McIlroy still off his best as Dustin Johnson wins Travelers

American continued his streak of winning every season he has played on the PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy reacts on the sixth green during the final round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy reacts on the sixth green during the final round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

 

Rory McIlroy provided snapshots of greatness – an eagle on the 13th for one, holing out from a greenside bunker for birdie on the 16th for another – but, also, the flipside of a lack of full tournament sharpness with a double-bogey on his penultimate hole, where his approach found a watery grave, as he completed the initial three-week return to the PGA Tour with a final round 67 for 267 in the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

That was enough to give McIlroy a tie for 11th as Dustin Johnson managed to sirvive a pair of bogeys on the back nine and a rain delay to finish at 19 under and win by a shot from Kevin Streelman.

The 2016 US Open champion fended off fellow American Streelman after shooting a career-low 61 the day prior, claiming his 21st PGA title to mark his 13th consecutive season with at least one victory.

For McIlroy, a tendency for unscripted errors had been evident on the front nine too, where poor approach shots to the second and fourth from McIlroy had led to bogeys which put early speedbumps in the way for any final round charge.

“The good stuff is in there, but obviously there’s a bit of bad, too. I’m putting it down to having those few months off and not really finding my rhythm yet,” said McIlroy of his rollercoaster rounds over the weekend where he slipped out of contention in the tournament. In particular, a 69 on Saturday left him chasing the game. “I sort of stood still compared to everyone else that was going low,” he admitted.

McIlroy – who will have a week off, before returning in a fortnight’s time for back-to-back tournaments at Muirfield Village in Columbus, Ohio – started the final round too far back (eight strokes behind 54-hole leader Brendon Todd) and with too many players in his way to expect any miracle charge.

That miracle briefly tempted fate. On the first, having missed the green, McIlroy rolled in a 25-footer from off the fringe to start with a birdie. But he was then put on the back foot with bogeys on the second and fourth, each the result of poor approach shots. He managed to get back in the right direction with birdies on the sixth and seventh.

The homeward run gathered momentum when, after rolling in a 25-footer for birdie on the 10th, he then hit an approach of 223 yards to 25 feet on the Par 5 13th and sank the eagle putt. And when he fist-pumped the air after holing out from a greenside bunker for birdie on the 16th, the world number one had moved from tied-18th at the start of the day up to tied-sixth.

However, that double bogey on the 17th, where McIlroy’s tee shot landed in a fairway bunker, and then his attempt to reach the green finished in a water hazard, ended any hopes he entertained for a top-five finish. “I’ve a week off to maybe work on a couple of things and get back at it (in Ohio),” said McIlroy, who will play the Workday Charity tournament followed by the Memorial, both on the same Jack Nicklaus course at Muirfield Village.

Shane Lowry finished his tournament with a 67 – five birdies, two bogeys – for a total of four-under-par 276. The Offaly man, who had missed the cut at Colonial and at Hilton Head, finished a lowly tied-60th and also has a week’s break before joining McIlroy at the two back-to-back tournaments in Ohio.

With his victory Johnson maintained his remarkable streak of winning every season he has been on the PGA Tour.

“I’m definitely proud of myself for continuing the streak – it was a long time between wins though – hopefully it won’t be that long for the next one,” Johnson said in a televised interview.

He narrowly avoided disaster on 15, when he was forced to remove his shoes and stand in a pond to hit his ball, which landed in the damp turf next to the water. He made par, only to bogey on the next hole, after rain forced a brief delay at the fanless tournament.

“Even though there’s no fans here, you can still feel the pressure,” said the 36-year-old American. “The rain delay didn’t help very much because then I actually had time to think about everything.”

American Will Gordon rocketed nine spots up the leaderboard to finish tied for third with Canadian Mackenzie Hughes.

Johnson, who finished second at both the Masters and the PGA Championship in 2019, failed to make the cut earlier this month at the Charles Schwab Challenge when the tour resumed after the Covid-19 forced a three-month suspension of play.

Todd, who had been in the lead after a career low nine-under 61 in the third round, self-destructed on 12 with a triple bogey and failed to recover, ending the tournament tied for 11th.

Collated final round scores and totals in the Travelers Championship, TPC River Highlands, United States of America (USA unless stated, par 70):

261 Dustin Johnson 69 64 61 67

262 Kevin Streelman 66 66 63 67

263 Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 60 68 68 67, Will Gordon 66 62 71 64

264 Kevin Na 66 66 65 67

265 Brendan Steele 69 62 68 66, Scott Stallings 66 68 64 67, Bryson DeChambeau 65 67 65 68, Patton Kizzire 66 66 66 67, Ryan Armour 67 66 68 64

267 Seung-Yul Noh (Kor) 64 68 66 69, Zach Johnson 68 64 67 68, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 63 69 67 68, Patrick Cantlay 66 67 69 65, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 68 66 68 65, Doc Redman 68 67 69 63, Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 63 68 69 67, Abraham Ancer (Mex) 67 65 66 69, Brendon Todd 66 65 61 75

268 Brian Stuard 65 67 68 68, Joel Dahmen 67 68 68 65, Xander Schauffele 63 68 70 67, Lucas Glover 66 68 71 63

269 Phil Mickelson 64 63 71 71, Kyle Stanley 69 65 65 70, Wesley Bryan 67 66 67 69, Adam Long 67 69 65 68, Sam Burns 68 66 68 67, Lanto Griffin 66 67 68 68, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 71 65 67 66, Patrick Reed 70 66 69 64

270 Harold Varner III 66 69 69 66, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 64 70 70 66, Russell Henley 65 69 72 64, Paul Casey (Eng) 69 66 67 68, Tyler Duncan 64 70 69 67

271 Jon Rahm (Spa) 66 68 66 71, Mark Hubbard 68 66 70 67, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 65 70 72 64, Tom Hoge 67 68 66 70

272 Charley Hoffman 67 67 65 73, Henrik Norlander (Swe) 68 68 68 68, Hank Lebioda 69 67 66 70, Joseph Bramlett 69 65 71 67, Brandt Snedeker 67 69 66 70

273 Jason Day (Aus) 67 69 69 68, Sung Kang (Kor) 65 67 70 71, Aaron Wise 68 67 69 69, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 68 68 69 68, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 64 70 71 68, Chez Reavie 70 66 68 69, Richy Werenski 67 68 71 67, Michael Thompson 64 71 70 68

274 Jim Furyk 69 65 70 70, Austin Cook 71 65 69 69, Kevin Chappell 68 68 69 69, Jordan Spieth 67 69 69 69

275 Marc Leishman (Aus) 66 65 72 72, Sungjae Im (Kor) 68 68 71 68

276 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 67 66 71 72, Shane Lowry (Irl) 66 69 74 67, Troy Merritt 68 64 72 72

277 Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 68 66 68 75

278 Ian Poulter (Eng) 67 69 73 69

279 Scott Brown 69 66 72 72

280 Roger Sloan (Can) 67 69 71 73

284 Greg Chalmers (Aus) 69 67 75 73

286 Luke Donald (Eng) 69 65 73 79

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