DORAL, Fla. — J.B. Holmes, who entered Sunday's final round at the Cadillac Championship with a five-shot lead, only managed one birdie and lost by one shot to Dustin Johnson.
Holmes bogeyed three of his first six holes and his big lead turned into a two-shot deficit to Bubba Watson before the turn.
But it was Johnson who eventually worked his way into the lead, and he was up by one shot on Holmes with one hole to play.
Johnson produced his best drive all week on the 18th hole at Trump National Doral, among the most daunting shots in golf. It was a monster shot that cleared the corner of the water and sent him to a routine par and a victory.
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"It was tough out there," said Holmes, who starred in high school at Taylor County and college at the University of Kentucky. "Just wasn't my day. I played great all week. You know, I just didn't make any putts today.
"There was a couple guys that were going to have to play great, and I was going to have to have an off day. Unfortunately for me, that's what happened."
A six-month break from golf raised more questions about Johnson's personal life than his game. He said it gave him time to work on a little of each, and he delivered Sunday. He left the green holding his 7-week-old son, Tatum, with fiancee Paulina Gretzky at his side.
"I knew I was really good," Johnson said. "I knew there was something I was missing that could make me great."
Johnson holed two big par putts from 20 feet and 10 feet that put him in the lead on a back nine of survival, seized control with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole and powered home to a 3-under 69 and the victory.
It was his ninth career win, and second World Golf Championship title, and it returned him to the elite in golf at No. 7 in the world.
Johnson did what few others could manage at Doral. He never made worse than a bogey all week, and he didn't have a single three-putt.
Still lingering are questions about his curious six-month leave he announced in August that caused him to miss the final major and the Ryder Cup. He said it was to seek professional help for "personal challenges."
Golf.com reported he had failed a second cocaine test, the first one in 2012.
"If he's won nine times out here, you're pretty good," Holmes said after his final-round 75.
Holmes made his lone birdie with a 3-wood onto the green at the 293-yard 16th hole for a two-putt birdie that pulled him to within one shot.
Despite the second-place finish, Holmes said his recent performance bodes well for the rest of the season, including the majors. Holmes' past four finishes include two ties for second, a tie for 10th and a tie for 22nd.
"It's nice to get back into competing and getting those opportunities," he said. "I've been in the lead. I was in the lead at Pebble. At some point in the last three or four tournaments I've played, I've been in the lead I think in almost all of them. I'm right there, so you've just got to keep giving yourself opportunities."
McIlroy gets his club back
Donald Trump made sure Rory McIlroy had all 14 clubs in the bag for his final round at the Cadillac Championship.
Adding yet another day of publicity to McIlroy's mini-meltdown, Trump had a scuba diver retrieve the 3-iron that McIlroy heaved into the water on the par-5 eighth hole during the second round at Trump National Doral.
McIlroy played with only 13 clubs in the third round, saying he really didn't need a 3-iron.
Trump waited for McIlroy to arrive on the practice range, walked over and presented him with the sunken treasure. Turning to the crowd lined up behind the railing, Trump said, "Thirteen is an unlucky number. I want him to have 14 clubs in his bag."
He would have had 14 clubs, anyway, as a replacement club was shipped to the world's No. 1 player earlier Sunday.
McIlroy said he would return the club to Trump after the round, and Trump already had something special in the works.
"We're thinking about auctioning it for charity or doing a trophy case for Doral, putting it on a beautiful mount," Trump said. "People really want that. I think Rory wants that. It was such a big thing. Last night it was all over television. It was the biggest story. And then the scuba diver! He was from central casting."
McIlroy hit his second shot into the water in the second round, and then sent the club flying some 50 yards into the lake in such a way it looked like the rotor on Trump's helicopter he has stationed near the ninth tee.
Marcel Siem threw his club into the water on the same hole Saturday, though no one paid much attention. And the diver didn't bother with that.
"I don't usually get scuba divers to go out and collect them, especially mine," Trump said. "But it was a beautiful moment. He did it with elegance."