Johnson starts 2013 with win in Hawaii

Dustin Johnson began his year in supreme style with victory in the first PGA tournament of 2013 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Overnight leader Johnson carded 16 under par overall to finish four strokes ahead of Steve Stricker in Hawaii, where the tournament was reduced to three rounds as a result of the freak weather.

Play had been delayed for three days because of winds of up to 50mph, which meant two rounds had to be completed on Monday.

The events have not fazed American Johnson, who began the day with a three-shot lead before sealing success with an impressive five-under-par 68.

The American looked to be cruising to victory when he birdied three of his first eight holes, although he dropped back to one under for the day with a double-bogey at the par-four 13th.

Any doubts over Johnson’s mindset were erased, however, when he eagled the next hole and picked up further shots at the 15th and 18th for good measure.

Stricker finished a credible second after a fine 69. Brandt Snedeker was two shots further back while last year’s Masters champion Bubba Watson and 2011 US PGA winner Keegan Bradley finished joint fourth on nine under.

Meanwhile, two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen will play his first event since August in Durban this week following back surgery.

Goosen, part of the elite field at the Volvo Golf Champions, yesterday described it as “a scary decision” to replace a disc that had “totally disintegrated really”.

The 43-year-old South African, who had the operation in London, stated: “The day after surgery I was walking and a week later my back was feeling good.

“It’s still feeling great — I’m getting a bit tight from hitting a few rounds in the last couple of weeks and played about six rounds of golf in the last couple of weeks, but so far still good.

“I’m very excited about the new year. I don’t really know what to expect — you’re feeling good and sort of keen to play again after five months.

“I like Durban Country Club and hopefully that will help me this week.

“I’m not really sitting here expecting to win, but you never know in this game.”

Goosen will also remember losing a play-off along with Els to their compatriot Branden Grace in this event at Fancourt last January.

“Obviously the last three years have been pretty bad. I really struggled with my back and last year I tried a bit of everything – injections, loads of physio, anything you could think of – but nothing really helped,” he added.

“In the end we had no choice but to have the operation.

“It’s just now a question of getting some strength back.”

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