OAKVILLE, Ont. (Reuters) - World number one Dustin Johnson broke free from the leading pack with birdies on his opening two holes and stayed out front the rest of the way to capture the Canadian Open and his third PGA Tour title of the season on Sunday.
After two runners-up finishes, Johnson finally snatched the Canadian crown with a workmanlike final round of six-under 66 that left the big-hitting American three shots clear of Kim Whee and An Byeong-hun
The South Koreans both birdied the final hole for matching 69s to share second on 20-under-par.
Keegan Bradley made a rousing final round rally, carding the round of the day with an error free eight-under 64 to finish alone in third a further shot back.
“Obviously I have a lot of fans out there thanks to Wayne and the family and I appreciate all the support,” said Johnson, who is married to Canadian hockey great Wayne Gretzky’s daughter Paulina.
“With my ties to Canada, Paulina and her dad being Wayne Gretzky I definitely get a lot of fans that pull for Wayne, pull for me.
“I definitely helped. The fans are great. I definitely feel like an honorary Canadian.”
Coming off his first missed cut of the year last week at the British Open, Johnson rebounded in some style to clinch his 19th career title with a winning tally of 23-under 265.
Johnson becomes the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win three or more times in three consecutive years.
There was a logjam at the top of the leaderboard at the start of the final round with Johnson, An, Kim and Kevin Tway all sitting on 17 under and holding a four-shot advantage over the chasing pack.
Johnson’s experience provided the early edge as he wasted no time breaking free with birdies at one and two, while the three co-leaders, who were all chasing their first PGA Tour titles, picked up early bogeys.
“It was definitely good to get off to a fast start,” said Johnson.
“I birdied the first and had a really good look at eagle on the second, it’s definitely good especially when the leaderboard is so bunched up.
“I just needed to get out in front, if I could get ahead I felt like I could play well and keep myself in the lead for the rest of the day which I did.”
With his challengers off to a shaky start Johnson calmly seized control, opening up a three-shot lead after just four holes.
But the American’s charge stalled as he struggled with his putter and he had to settle for five consecutive pars before rolling in a 12-footer at the eighth.
As Johnson and An stepped onto the ninth tee, the horn sounded halting play due to stormy weather in the area.
When play resumed following a nearly two-hour delay, the gap tightened as Johnson recorded a par and An and Kim picked up birdies to cut American’s lead to two.
After Johnson took his only bogey of the day at the 12th, his lead was trimmed to a single shot but the 34-year-old was unshakeable, answering with a birdie at 13 to get back on track.
Editing by Clare Fallon and Nick Mulvenney