Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Golf: Johnson Set to Defend Mexico Championship Title

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Golf: Johnson Set to Defend Mexico Championship Title

Article excerpt

MEXICO CITY * One of the intriguing aspects of the Mexico Championship is the thin air and the long ball.

Chapultepec Golf Club is approaching 7,800 feet above sea level, making it the highest altitude most of the players in this World Golf Championships event will see all year. The Joburg Open was close to 6,000 feet above sea level. The Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nevada, is about the same.

But that's not what wins the tournament.

Just ask the defending champion.

Dustin Johnson still smiles at one of the best shots he hit all year a sand wedge. His lead was down to one shot when Tommy Fleetwood made birdie on the 18th hole, and Johnson tugged his tee shot on the par-4 hole into a wicked spot in the bunker.

"The ball was below my feet. It was not sitting great," Johnson said. "And I didn't really have anywhere to miss it coming out of where I was. It was either hit a good shot or I was probably going into a playoff."

He hit one of the most underappreciated shots of the year to about 20 feet for a two-putt par and a one-shot victory. It was his fifth World Golf Championships title in his first start at No. 1 in the world, a position he has kept all year.

Justin Thomas was playing in the final group and remembers it well.

"Hands down," he said when asked if it was one of the better shots of the tournament.

Thomas revised his assessment a few minutes later, only because he thought his 6-iron for a hole-in-one on the 223-yard 13th hole in the third round was pretty good. Even though a hole-in-one typically is a case where the hole gets in the way? "That's where I was aiming," Thomas said.

Back to Johnson's shot.

"I was in the fairway and saw Tommy make birdie on 18," Thomas said. "There's a tree on the left that was in his way. The ball was below his feet, and there's quite a bit of sand in those bunkers. He had to catch it perfectly. …

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