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Golf Tidbits: Johnson bookends season with victories

By Kevin Currie, Senior Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - At the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the wind blew so hard, golf couldn't be played for the first few days.

The only weather issues at this past weekend's WGC-HSBC Champions was some poor air quality.

Dustin Johnson played through the adverse conditions at both events to earn his seventh and eighth PGA Tour titles. With the WGC counting toward the wrap-around 2013-14 PGA Tour season, Johnson has at least one win in each of his first seven years on tour.

The last player to accomplish that feat - Woods, Tiger.

Johnson isn't in Woods' league by any stretch, but Johnson has the length to hang with any player, on any tour, and has a decent short game.

"He's just a quality, talented, very athletic, classy player. Yeah, he makes mistakes. But when you've got a game as good as him, you can get away with a few mistakes," Graeme McDowell stated. "He's just got a great wedge game to go with just an outrageously good driving game."

In China at the WGC, Johnson showed he has nerves of steel as well. He led by three entering the final round, but that cushion was gone, quickly as McDowell and Ian Poulter both caught him, and in Poulter's case, passed him for the lead.

One would have thought a Ryder Cup match broke out, but this was a 2-on-1 battle for the lead. The two also had backup in Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer, all European Ryder Cup players who were in pursuit, while the closest American behind Johnson was Bubba Watson, who shared eighth with Kaymer.

In the 2-on-1, it was the one who prevailed. In the last six holes, Johnson posted three birdies and a chip-in eagle to retake the lead and grab the title.

Poulter and McDowell had an advantage over Johnson entering the final round. Poulter, the tournament's reigning champion, owned two World Golf Championship titles. McDowell hasn't won a WGC event, but did win the 2010 U.S. Open.

Johnson's biggest win prior to this was at the 2011 Barclays, a FedExCup playoff event. Thanks to his late rally, he is now one of a few players who has won a FedExCup playoff event and a World Golf Championship.

"It's the biggest win I've had in my career so far. Those guys put a lot of pressure on me. I'm really proud of the way I handled myself," Johnson said.

Clearly, the next step for Johnson is to win a major. If it weren't for a weird sandy area at the 2010 PGA Championship, Johnson may have won that title instead of Kaymer.

The PGA Championship and the Masters are the majors Johnson would have the best chance at winning. We are five months from the Masters, so it'll be tough for Johnson to carry the momentum from this win into that major.

Johnson remains one of the top players under 30 years of age, and will remain in that category through the first two majors of 2014.

Maybe by that time, Johnson will be a major champion.

ELS BATTLING THE EUROPEAN TOUR

Ernie Els has been one of the best players in European Tour history, so when he questions something the tour does, people listen.

According to a report, Els is upset with the European Tour, which added a new regulation that players must play two of the three events leading up to the season-ending event in Dubai.

It doesn't seem like a lot to ask, but when you take into account that 10 players ranked in the top 40 of the Race to Dubai rankings didn't qualify for this past weekend's WGC-HSBC Champions event, Els' point becomes more valid.

In fact, 25 of the top 60 on the rankings did not play, or did not qualify for the WGC. If those players want to qualify for the Dubai event, they have to play the other two.

Els has pulled out of the final two events in protest.

Fair or not, Els' point is valid. These players need to get into the WGC field so they can choose what two events they want to play before heading to Dubai for the season-ending tournament.

MINI-TIDBITS

* Simon Dyson has a hearing soon on his rules infraction from the BMW Open. There are reports he could get banned from the tour for a period of time for tapping down a spike mark that was in his putting line. That would be a little excessive if you ask me. He said he didn't even remember doing it.

* Fred Couples won the season-ending event on the Champions Tour on the same weekend that Dustin Johnson won on the PGA Tour. If you were ranking the most laid-back golfers, those two and Jason Dufner would be the top three on everybody's list.

11/04 15:00:42 ET

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