LOS ANGELES – When you’ve waited this long to be No. 1 in the world, cramming 36 holes into one day in order to get there should be no big deal.
And the way Sunday unfolded at Riviera … well, it was fitting that a waterlogged weekend finished with a boat race.
Eleven players spent the back nine Sunday afternoon, the last stage of the Genesis Open’s golf marathon, within a shot or two of second place. Above them on the leaderboard, Dustin Johnson was, as he later admitted, “on cruise control,” his heavy lifting already done, and the top spot in the World Golf Rankings awaiting his final putt of the day.
He posted seven birdies and a 64 in the rain-delayed third round Sunday morning, teeing off at 7 a.m. and wrapping up around noon. Three more birdies in his first six holes in the afternoon round moved him to 20 under, nine shots in front and threatening the tournament records for lowest score (Lanny Wadkins, 264, 1985) and victory margin (Phil Rodgers, 9, 1962).
That momentum didn’t last, since he bogeyed 9, 15 and 16, snapping a string of par-or-better holes at 49 and shrinking his lead from 9 to an eventual 5.
The slippage should have been understandable. Since his entire third round was wiped out Saturday, Johnson had to be up at 4:30 a.m. for a 7 o’clock tee time, and he holed out for the day at 5:05 p.m.
And the break in between rounds? Poor guy couldn’t even grab a hot dog.
“I had 14 minutes from the time I signed my card to teeing off again,” he said. “I didn’t have time to really do anything. I went to my locker, grabbed some more golf balls and headed to the tee.”
He also said, “Sometimes, 36-hole days are good.” On this particular 36-hole day, the evidence backs him up.
Even as the tournament record book remained safe, last year’s U.S. Open champion and PGA Player of the Year took another step toward star status.
Being No. 1 in the world is nice, though relevant primarily to the true die-hard golf…