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Fantastic Voyage

by Mike Purkey

In the summer of 2014, Dustin Johnson announced he would take a leave from the PGA Tour to seek help for “personal challenges.” The rumors swirled, and some feared that this supremely talented golfer might self-destruct.

Less than three years later, Johnson is the world’s No. 1 player, seizing that mantle from Jason Day on Sunday with a convincing Genesis Open victory at sodden Riviera Country Club outside Los Angeles. His ascent follows his player-of-the-year 2016 season, during which he won the U.S. Open, his first major title after multiple near misses.

As impressive as his recent golf accomplishments are, the personal journey that has made those possible is perhaps more so.

Across the Pacific, Aussie veteran Brett Rumford won the inaugural ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth tournament in his hometown. This brainchild of European Tour boss Keith Pelley featured 54 holes of stroke play followed by a series of six-hole matches Sunday among the low 24 scorers. It’s one of several initiatives the brash Pelley has undertaken to inject life into a longstaid circuit in hopes of making it – and golf in general – appealing to a younger demographic. There’s little doubt PGA Tour commish Jay Monahan and his lieutenants are watching Pelley’s maneuvers closely.

And speaking of maneuvers, Ha Na Jang came from behind to win the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Jang won three LPGA titles in 2016 but stirred controversy in her native South Korea with her colorful victory dances. Her celebration Down Under was more muted, though she punctuated her final-round charge with several fist pumps. Regardless, her mix of skill and moxie is refreshing.

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