Becoming a Major champion has freed Dustin Johnson to realise his potential – now the new world No1 can become a prolific winner

 
Sam Torrance
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Genesis Open - Final Round
Johnson replaced Jason Day as world No1 by winning the Genesis Open (Source: Getty)

It became apparent towards the end of last year that Dustin Johnson was bound for the top of the rankings and on Sunday at Riviera he followed it through by winning the Genesis Open.

Victory lifted Johnson to world No1 for the first time in his career and he did it in magnificent style.

He was excellent all week on his way to a five-shot win that wasn’t made any easier by weather delays.

Read more: Spieth is back to his brilliant best in time for the Masters

DJ is the man right now and he has shown exactly what he is capable of early in the year.

He has been a periodic winner rather than a prolific one but I expect the titles to become more regular now that he is a Major champion.

Winning the US Open last year must have done so much for his confidence.

He knows he is good enough; now the mind has been freed and the brain uncluttered he can just go out and enjoy playing.

It’s what the very best do; they are a different breed.

Johnson, 32, seems so comfortable with his game.

He gets the best out of his technique – a strong grip and a shut club face at the top of his swing – to hit the ball prodigious distances.

He is one of a number of the top 10 to show form already this year, with the Masters approaching.

It’s hard to assess whether he is a better golfer than Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy or Jason Day, but the competition among the leading players makes for great viewing for us.

In the run-up to Augusta, Johnson and Spieth are certainly the two who have stepped up to the plate.

Keep an eye on Pieters

Genesis Open - Round One
Pieters finished with a round of 63 at Riviera (Source: Getty)

Belgian youngster Thomas Pieters caught the eye with a 63 in his final round to share second place at the Genesis Open.

That’s a great finish and the sort of performance that tells Pieters he can win on the PGA Tour. The 25-year-old is one to watch at the Honda Classic this week.

Less encouraging was Day’s display.

The Australian lost his grip on the world No1 ranking by finishing tied for 64th at Riviera, some 19 shots adrift of the man who has taken his crown.

Day has had physical problems with back injuries and vertigo, and his patchy form has to be worrying him with just six weeks until the Masters.

Lots to like in new event

ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth - Round Four
Rumford has reclaimed his tour card after a turbulent spell (Source: Getty)

I thoroughly enjoyed the inaugural World Super 6 event in Perth, from the way the innovative new format unfolded to its conclusion with a win for local favourite Brett Rumford.

Rumford played the golf of his life, not only winning the all-important final match-play element of the competition but also topping the stroke-play leaderboard after 54 holes by five shots.

He is a lovely bloke, a really good player and I am delighted for him.

He has had a difficult couple of seasons, missing a few months after a serious health scare in 2015 required him to him have part of his intestine removed, and then losing his European Tour card last year.

Thanks to this win, he is now exempt until the end of next season.

If I have one reservation about the format, it is that it would have felt harsh on Rumford if, having strolled the stroke-play, he had missed out on a significant pay-day by losing early in the match-play stage.

The end of the stroke-play on Saturday ought to mean something, beyond qualification for the next round.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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