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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 6 March 2021

Dustin Johnson 'very proud' after winning Saudi International for a second time

American world No 1 claims his second title in three years with a two-shot victory at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club

Dustin Johnson poses with the Saudi International trophy after winning the tournament by two shots. Getty Images
Dustin Johnson poses with the Saudi International trophy after winning the tournament by two shots. Getty Images

Dustin Johnson reiterated his position as the world’s top-ranked golfer on Sunday by winning the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers for the second time in three years.

The American, who captured the inaugural event in 2019 before finishing runner-up last year, fired a final-round 68 at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club to finish on 15-under par, two ahead of Tony Finau and Justin Rose.

Johnson had begun the day at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club with a two-shot lead over closest challenger Victor Perez, but by the turn the Frenchman had halved his advantage. Finau then reeled off three birdies to join Johnson at the top.

However, the Masters champion soon birdied the 13th to edge back out in front. A bogey on the par-3 16th proved not too costly – Perez made double to slip three back – while a brilliant up-and-down for birdie on the next all but sealed Johnson the victory. He parred the last to round off another fine display in the kingdom.

The win was Johnson’s ninth on the European Tour and 28th overall as a professional. The two-time major champion, 36, has now finished in the top three in seven of his past 10 events.

“It means a lot,” Johnson said afterwards. “It's a great event. Obviously from the first year to this year, it's gotten astronomically better, and I think they are going to continue to try to grow this tournament and make it one of the best in the world.

“It was a great field this year, so to get a victory, I'm very proud of that. It's a big win. I'm looking forward to coming back next year.”

Given his remarkable levels of consistency, Johnson continues to draw comparisons with Tiger Woods. Asked if the expectation to perform at every tournament puts an extra strain on him, he said: “I don't feel any added pressure. I come into a tournament looking to contend and I prepare as best I can.

“Obviously I've been playing some really good golf the last six months. Hopefully I'm going to continue to play this kind of golf. But I'm seeing a lot of the same things each and every week, and that's what I do.

"And I've got a great team around me that helps me kind of stay in that form, so I can perform at the highest level each and every week.”

Perez eventually carded a 69 to come home three shots back in a tie for fourth alongside Scotland’s Callum Hill, while recent Abu Dhabi winner Tyrrell Hatton finished in tied-sixth on 11-under, together with Viktor Hovland, Ryan Fox and Rasmus Hojgaard.

Updated: February 7, 2021 07:15 PM

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