Golf

Day: We have to up our game to match Johnson

It is a wake-up call for all leading golfers.

Australian Jason Day, who lost his top ranking to Dustin Johnson after the long-hitting American won the Genesis Open in southern California yesterday morning (Singapore time), said that the world's best have to pick up their games to keep pace with the new world No. 1.

The 32-year-old Johnson had knocked on the door before, spending much of 2016 in second spot, before making another push at the start of 2017 and finally passing Day, who spent 47 consecutive weeks at the top.

"Whatever he's doing, he just needs to keep doing it," said Day, after finishing a distant joint-64th at Riviera.

"If he keeps playing the way he's playing, we've got to pick our game up and try to compete with him."

Johnson started the final round with a five-shot lead and was never challenged after birdies at the first two holes en route to a closing 71.

Despite two late bogeys, he finished at 17-under 267, with Thomas Pieters (63) of Belgium and American Scott Brown (67) a distant second on 12-under.

"I believe in myself. I think I'm a great player," said a delighted Johnson.

Former world No. 1 Adam Scott advised Johnson to enjoy his new status while it lasts.

"Just enjoy it, because as we've seen since Tiger (Woods) really dominated that position, no one's staying there too long," said the Australian, who was No. 1 for 11 weeks in 2014.

"The target's on your back and everyone's coming for you.

"There just isn't the separation between the top players that there was during that long period of time when Tiger was far ahead."

Woods, who is struggling to mount a comeback after major back surgery, was ranked No. 1 for a record 683 weeks in total, including a record 281 consecutive weeks between June 2005 and October 2010.

Another former No. 1, Jordan Spieth, said it was no surprise that Johnson had kicked on since his Major breakthrough at last year's US Open.

"Once that happened, that was a big monkey off his back mentally, and it freed him up," said Spieth, who headed the rankings for 26 weeks in 2015.

"He was given a hard time for a long time about close calls in Majors." - WIRE SERVICES

golfsports