For a man who couldn’t swing a golf club for six weeks, Dustin Johnson sure knows how to return to winning form quickly.
Johnson won the St. Jude Classic Sunday in Memphis in his second event after a back injury cost him nearly three months away from the PGA Tour, shooting a 4-under-par 66 that held off John Merrick by a stroke.
“Well, it feels really good, especially having so much time off,’’ Johnson said.
Johnson pulled a muscle in his lower right back in early March lifting a jet ski at his home, and rest was the biggest part of his prescription for healing. He didn’t return to the tour until last week at the Memorial, where he tied for 19th.
He began the final round two strokes back and held a piece of the lead three different times. He won his sixth career title with consecutive birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 and finished 9-under 271. Johnson said he didn’t look at the leaderboard, trying to stay focused on himself.
“And you know, I did that,’’ Johnson said. “I had a lot of looks, lot of good looks and made a few putts coming down the stretch. Made great birdies at 16 and 17.’’
Johnson, who picked up the check for more than $1 million, led by only a stroke going to No. 18. Rory McIlroy, Chad Campbell, and Nick O’Hern, three of the four who had a chance to tie Johnson with a birdie, knocked their tee shots into the lake. Johnson said he thought he might have been tied and made sure he hit the fairway to at least give himself a chance at birdie. Par was good enough.
Now Johnson is the first player since Tiger Woods (1996-2000) to win in each of his first five seasons on tour after leaving college, which he said means a lot. His six career wins are the most of any of the tour players in their 20s.
Merrick remains winless in 154 career tour starts. He shot a 69, recovering from a double bogey where he hit twice into water with a pair of birdies, and had a 272 total.
“The wheels were coming off the train. Hung in there and made a good putt for double,’’ Merrick said. “Hung in there, proud of myself.’’
Davis Love, the US Ryder Cup captain, shot a 69 and tied for third with O’Hern (69), Campbell (68), and Ryan Palmer (66) at 273. McIlroy, who now heads to San Francisco and The Olympic Club to defend his US Open title, had a 69 and tied three others at 274.
LPGA - Shanshan Feng shot a 5-under 67 to win the LPGA Championship by two shots, her first victory on the LPGA Tour and the first for a player from China.
Feng, 22, the only player from China on the tour, had the lowest round of the tournament held in Pittsford, N.Y., at the right time and finished at 6-under 282.
Stacy Lewis, bidding to win her third straight stroke-play event on the LPGA Tour, shot a 70 to tie for second with Mika Miyazato, Suzann Pettersen, and third-round leader Eun-Hee Ji. Miyazato shot 69, Pettersen 70, and Ji 72.
Karrie Webb, who started the day one shot behind Ji, had a 72 to finish at 3 under.
Defending champion Yani Tseng had a closing 76 and was 13 over in a tournament she won a year ago by 10 shots.
Champions - Tom Lehman won his second straight Regions Tradition, finishing the major with a 4-under 68 to take a two-stroke victory at rainy Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala.
Bernhard Langer and Chien Soon Lu each finished with a 66 to share second behind Lehman’s 14-under 274.
Curtis Cup - Britain-Ireland rallied past the US at Nairn, Scotland, ending the Americans’ 16-year domination of the tournament.
Britain-Ireland beat the Americans, 10 1/2-9 1/2, despite needing to win five of the eight singles matches. Stephanie Meadow of Northern Ireland scored the critical point by defeating Amy Anderson.