Fresh from winning in his first start of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, Dustin Johnson was pounding his long drives for charity Monday at the Big Dog Ranch Rescue fund raiser at Trump National Golf Club.
Johnson, No. 12 in the world rankings, said his three-shot victory in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai ranks as the biggest win of his career.
“There were so many great players,” he said of the event that concluded Nov. 3. “So many were there at the top on Sunday, and obviously I had a three-shot lead going into Sunday, but that dwindled pretty quick.”
Johnson trailed Ian Poulter by one shot with six holes to play, then birdied Nos. 13 and 14, eagled No. 16 and birdied No. 17 to pull away. Among those unable to keep pace were Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy.
Johnson, 28, is starting his eighth season on tour. He has won at least once each year, and this was the second season in which he won his first start.
“Just worked out that way,” he said.
A native of South Carolina, Johnson is now a full-time resident of Jupiter, where he often enjoys the company of fellow touring pros (and neighbors) Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley and Steve Marino. Johnson said he still gets back to his former home in Myrtle Beach “every once in a while” but has made South Florida home.
“I enjoy the weather, and the great golf courses,” said Johnson, who plays out of the Bear’s Club. “And a lot of golfers live here.”
One of those, Hobe Sound resident Freddie Jacobson, who also participated, was giving back to the shelter where he and his family adopted a 4-month old goldendoodle two months ago.
“The kids were in my ear for a long time,” he said. “I made a deal with them this summer. We didn’t tell my wife until afterward. The kids are loving it.”
Jacobson said he’s enjoying the wraparound 2013-14 schedule — the first segment of which concludes with this week’s Mayakoba Classic in Mexico City — and feels the full FedEx points and Masters berths being awarded in the four fall events are an improvement on the previous set-up.
“For those tournaments to finally count is a good thing,” he said. “Anybody who plays now, whether it’s new guys coming on the Tour, guys trying to get ahead of the game before the new year, you have a chance to position yourself well.”
Organizers of Monday’s event hoped to raise $500,000 for a new facility to be built on 31 acres in Wellington.
The format Monday was unusual: Pros were stationed on each hole and played with foursomes as they came through. Greg Norman was at No. 1, Nick Price at No. 10 and Camilo Villegas at No. 18. Also participating were Marino, Robert Allenby, Mark Calcavecchia and Ken Duke, among others.
Norman has been putting the finishing touches on the Franklin Templeton Shootout Dec. 13-15 in Naples.
“We’ve lasted 25 years,” he said of the event formerly known as the Shark Shootout. “It’s a testament to the quality of the tournament itself. The guys have a great time. …
“I hope we go on another 25 years.”