Cold putter costs McIlroy as world No 1 Dustin Johnson claims WGC-Mexico Championship

Rory McIlroy knows that power and precision are the hallmarks of the modern game but he also there's nothing like a hot putter to smarten up your scorecard after he finished four shots shy of world No 1 Dustin Johnson in the WGC-Mexico Championship, writes Brian Keogh.

While you drive for show, you still putt for dough in golf.

Just ask Spain’s Jon Rahm, who was tied for the lead with three holes to go before three-putting the 16th and 17th, eventually carding a 68 to finish tied for third with Ross Fisher, two shots behind Johnson on 12-under par.

“It means a lot, obviously,” Johnson said as he won in his first event as world No 1, carding a 68 to win by a shot from England’s Tommy Fleetwood on 14-under par.

“It’s a tough spot to be in. There are a lot of pressures on you and I came out and played really well.

“I feel like I hit the ball great all week. The greens are tough to put on but while I didn’t putt by best, I played well enough, I guess, as I just won by one.”

McIlroy could also ask Greystones' Paul Dunne, who made 23 birdies over his final 64 holes at Pretoria Golf Club to turn what looked like a missed cut into a career-best tie for sixth in the Tshwane Open in South Africa.

Johnson putted solidly and cruised into a four-shot lead over Belgium's Thomas Pieters with nine holes to play in Mexico City.

But he then recovered from a couple of bogeys early on the back nine, carding a three-under 68 to win his 14th PGA Tour title and consolidate his position as the No 1 player in the world rankings.

The 32-year old American went from four ahead of Thomas Pieters after nine holes to one behind Rahm with four to go when he bogeyed the 12th and 13th and the Spaniard got to five under for the day and to 14-under for the tournament after 15 holes.

As Johnson birdied the par-five 15th to regain a share of the lead, Rahm three-putted the 16th from 70 feet, then three-putted again when he came up 60 feet short on the fringe at the par-three 17th.

England's Tommy Fleetwood birdied the 18th from 38 feet for a 66 to take solo second on 13 under par, forcing Johnson to find the 18th green from the heavy rough and two-putt for a 68 and his second successive victory.

Cold putter costs McIlroy as world No 1 Dustin Johnson claims WGC-Mexico Championship

For McIlroy, the good news is that his injured ribs held up well. But having spent four weeks practising his putting, he now has two more events to get his razor sharp for the Masters and that elusive final leg of the career Grand Slam.

He could have gone into the weekend four shots clear of the field but had to settle for a two-shot advantage after he missed two short putts on the last two greens on Friday.

Another uninspired performance on Saturday (70), left him two shots behind Thomas overnight.

But McIlroy never got anything going in the final round, eventually making two birdies and two bogeys in a 30-putt, level par 71 to share seventh with Brandt Snedeker and Phil Mickelson on 10 under par.

McIlroy missed a good chance at the first, failed to get up and down from sand for par at the third and then followed a chip and putt birdie at the sixth with a three-putt bogey at the par-three seventh.

The 27-year old Ulsterman then missed inside 15 feet for birdie at the 12th and 13th before eventually getting back to level for the day with a birdie from eight feet at the 14th.

He was now just three behind Johnson and 22-year Rahm, who was four under for 14 holes.

But while the 22-year old Basque rookie birdied the 15th to take the lead, McIlroy drove into the trees there and never threatened to trouble the leaders.

Meanwhile, Dunne finished a career-best sixth behind Dean Burmester in South Africa because of his putting prowess.

He had bogeyed five of his first seven holes in the opening round but salvaged a two-over 73, then shot a 68 to make the cut by one before blasting rounds of 65 and 66 over the weekend to win €35,772 and take his earnings from his first eight starts of the season to €126,201.

"After the start, really happy with the week's work," Dunne tweeted his 26,000-plus followers. "Thanks for all the message. Congrats @BurmyGolf long time coming. Delighted for you. #gent”

More in this Section

Oxlade-Chamberlain extends Liverpool dealOxlade-Chamberlain extends Liverpool deal

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova to meet in US Open first roundSerena Williams and Maria Sharapova to meet in US Open first round

Maurizio Sarri to miss Juventus’ first two matches as he recovers from illnessMaurizio Sarri to miss Juventus’ first two matches as he recovers from illness

Liverpool shelve redevelopment plans of AnfieldLiverpool shelve redevelopment plans of Anfield


A parent coach says parents are often the best judge of how to care for their baby – and explains how they can learn to have faith in their intuition.Ask an expert: How can I know what’s best for my baby?

We take a trip down memory lane and check out what happened on this day in years gone by by looking back at some Irish Examiner front pages and highlighting other events which went down in history across the world.August 23, 2019: A look back at what happened on this day in years gone by

Romantic florals to 1970s chic, fun femininity to gothic grunge —we showcase the top autumn/winter looks at Brown Thomas, with a focus on the most exciting and diverse designer labels.Coming at you: The top autumn/winter looks at Brown Thomas

RP O’Donnell says it is hard to find anywhere better than Boston to show your family a great time as he returns to a city he used to call homeA family friendly holiday guide to get the best out of beautiful Boston

More From The Irish Examiner