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Golf Tidbits: Johnson ends wild week with a win

Organizers hoped to grab some extra television coverage by scheduling a Monday finish for the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

They didn't expect gale force winds to blow for three straight days. Instead of the tournament finishing on Monday, that was the day the tournament officially started.

I say officially because shots had been struck two of the previous three days, but those rounds were erased due to the conditions. Wind speeds were steadily blowing over 30 mph and gusting well over 40 mph. You might be able to play baseball or football in those conditions, but not golf.

Enough with the retro weather forecast, there was actual golf to talk about.

Dustin Johnson was one of the few players that never struck a single shot until Monday, which turned into a marathon 36-hole day. He shared the lead after the first round in mid-afternoon, then was three shots clear at day's end.

He was second in greens in regulation through two rounds, before an inconsistent final round.

Johnson, one of the longest hitters on tour, was 1-over par on the two front- nine par-fives. A rarity for him. He birdied both par-fives on the back nine, however.

His drive on the par-five ninth sailed well right into native grass and what earlier had been a 5-stroke lead was suddenly down to two after he walked off with a bogey. He seemed to settle himself with a birdie on the drivable 12th, but his driver again let him down at No. 13.

Johnson tugged his drive left into a treacherous spot and took two shots to get out of some thick grass. That led to a double-bogey, which in turn sliced his lead to one.

The 28-year-old's up-and-down round continued its' see-saw at the 14th. He bombed his drive in front of the green, then chipped in for eagle.

Game. Set. Match.

Playing partner Steve Stricker was closest to him, but wouldn't be able to keep up down the stretch.

Johnson clinched his seventh PGA Tour title with birdies at 15 and 18, and won for the sixth consecutive year on tour. He is also coming off a solid 3-0 record in his second Ryder Cup appearance last fall.

The goal for Johnson now is to break an unusual streak. The previous three winners of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions failed to win again that season.

Johnson, with a new set of clubs, has been in Hawaii for two weeks already and will remain there for the Sony Open, which starts about 43 hours after the Hyundai ended. Quick turnaround for him and several others.

The last two Hyundai winners haven't finished inside the top 30 at the Sony Open. Look for Johnson to carry the momentum over this week.

Many expect a big season from Johnson, and his fast start is the first step in proving those prognosticators right.

SEVERAL BIG NAMES CHANGE EQUIPMENT

In the early 2000s, Tiger Woods re-signed an endorsement deal with Nike that netted him millions of dollars and eventually led to him switching to all Nike clubs.

It was a huge deal at the time because Nike was very new to the golf club business, and also because Woods had earned 33 PGA Tour titles from 1996-2002 before leaving Titleist irons.

The lucrative move also paved the way for other golfers to start getting paid millions of dollars from their equipment companies.

Every off-season there is movement among lots of players from one brand to another. This off-season saw at least five players that won on the PGA Tour last year changing to new equipment this season.

Nike seems to be the winner in all the movement, as they have added 2012 Phoenix Open champion Kyle Stanley and five-time PGA Tour winner Nick Watney, as well as Thorbjorn Olesen and Seung-yul Noh, who are both ranked in the top 100 in the world rankings.

The biggest announcement is yet to come for Nike. It is expected that world No. 1 Rory McIlroy will also start playing Nike's clubs this year.

TaylorMade scored a pair of former major champions in Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover, as well as 2012 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year John Huh and Ryan Moore, who picked up his second PGA Tour win last year.

Callaway added Chris Kirk and big-hitting Gary Woodland to their stable of golfers.

These were just some of the big moves this off-season. It will be interesting to see how all these golfers perform this year since we know it takes time to adjust to new equipment.

MINI-TIDBITS

* After three days of very high winds, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions finally started on Monday, and ended Tuesday. They squeezed 54 holes in over two days. My question is this, why schedule the event Friday-to-Monday to begin with? The television equipment, among other stuff, has to be shipped to the Sony Open, which starts on Thursday. Why schedule a Monday finish with a short week ahead of you? Tuesday's final round at Kapalua was played without scoreboards and standard bearers because that equipment was sent to Honolulu after Monday's action.

* This year's LPGA Tour schedule is slated to be released this week, and it will have a new event in the Bahamas. I think every golf writer will jump to cover that event. Also, it's good news for the LPGA Tour to be adding events.