By Sam McPherson
Even though the big prizes have evaded him this year so far, top-ranked Dustin Johnson still is having a superb season on the PGA Tour. His winning ways continued on Sunday at the RBC Canadian Open in Oakville, Ontario, as Johnson waltzed to a three-shot victory. He posted a 66 in the fourth round to pull away from the three other golfers he had shared the third-round lead with to start the day. Johnson now has three victories this season, and the world’s best golfer also sits atop the money list by almost a million dollars.
He made it look easy on Sunday, finishing at 23-under par overall at Glen Abbey. Johnson posted 68-66-65-66 to beat South Korean golfers Byeong-Hun An and Whee Kim, who tied for second at 20-under. Both runners-up shot 69 in the fourth round, but couldn’t keep pace with Johnson after sharing the lead with him after 54 holes. American Kevin Tway, the fourth golfer who shared the lead to begin Sunday play, shot 76 to fall quickly out of contention.
While Johnson was one of six golfers to shoot all four rounds in the 60s at the Canadian Open, he went lower than everyone else did over the final three rounds. Johnson also finished third at the U.S. Open in June, and has now set himself up as one of the big favorites for the final major of the year coming up next month. He has four top-10 finishes at the PGA Championship in his career.
After Thursday, however, Johnson was in 24th place, with a lot of golfers in front of him on the leaderboard. Robert Garrigus shot 9-under on Thursday to take the first-round lead by one shot over Adam Schenk and two shots over Chris Stroud. Six golfers stood three shots back, and 14 other players were tied after shooting 67 to open the tournament. The first round was suspended on Thursday and not completed until Friday morning, but there was quite the logjam on the leaderboard with all the low scores.
Tway, after carding a 65 to go along with his opening 66, shot to the top of the leaderboard at 13-under on Friday. The 2011 PGA champion, Keegan Bradley, shot 63 to soar into a tie for second place, one stroke behind Tway, with Kim and his 67-65 effort through the first two days of play. Dozens of players were within a few shots of the lead at this point, setting up an exciting weekend of golf.
Saturday’s third round, the proverbial “Moving Day” as it were, provided some significant separation at the top of the leaderboard: There was a four-way tie for first place at 17-under par featuring Kim, Tway, Johnson, and An. This quartet enjoyed a four-shot cushion on the rest of the field, as Johnson posted 65 on Saturday to jump into the shared lead with the others after lurking just out of sight of the leaders through the first two rounds.
Bradley finished fourth overall at 19-under, despite shooting a 73 on Saturday. His round of 64 of Sunday was the lowest of the day, perhaps giving the former PGA champion some momentum heading into this year’s event at Bellerive Country Club in Town and Country, Missouri. Of course, Johnson will be ready for that tournament, too, if this weekend’s play is any indication.
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Next On The Tee: World Golf Championships—Bridgestone Invitational
The Tour is in the middle of an exciting four-week stretch that features the British Open, the RBC Canadian Open, a World Golf championship event, and the PGA Championship. The scene shifts this week to Akron, Ohio, and the Firestone Country Club for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Hideki Matsuyama is the defending champion, as the top 50 players in the world and a handful of others will vie for one of the prestigious WGC titles now sprinkled throughout the Tour’s annual schedule.
Johnson won this event in 2016, and Bradley won it in 2012 although he did not qualify for this year’s tournament. Tiger Woods has won this event an incredible eight times, which is astounding when you think about it, although the last time was in 2013. He will be going for a ninth victory this week, while Rory McIlroy will try to win his second title after his 2014 victory. British Open champ Francesco Molinari is in the field, too, and a host of other players all at the top of their respective games right now. This has the feeling of a major with the invitation-only field of top players in the world, including Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, and Jordan Spieth.
Firestone originally was designed by Bert Way in the late 1920s and then redesigned by Robert Trent Jones in 1960. The PGA held its championship here three times (1960, 1966, 1975), with Jack Nicklaus winning the 1975 event. Woods holds the WGC-Bridgestone tournament record, finishing at 21-under par in 2000. Next year, the event will move to a new venue in Memphis, Tennessee, so this should be a special tournament for the many golfers who have enjoyed success on this course over the years.
The Firestone Country Club South course plays 7,400 yards long and is a par 70.
Favorites: Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, Tiger Woods
Players to Watch: Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.