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Dustin Johnson struggled to the finish at Valspar: ‘I didn’t feel like I played bad’

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – After cruising through the first 54 holes of the Valspar Championship seemingly without breaking a sweat, Dustin Johnson seemed like the man to beat. But keeping the Copperhead Course at bay for four straight days proved to be too tall of a task, even for the world No. 1.

Johnson struggled during the final round amid swirling winds and on crispy greens, shooting a 3-over 74 that dropped him into a tie for sixth. Pars were dearly sought for all the leaders down the stretch, but for Johnson the birdies were non-existent. Unable to capitalize on high-percentage opportunities on the par-5s or curl in a putt elsewhere, Johnson failed to make a single final-round birdie for the first time since Sunday of the 2017 WGC HSBC-Champions – when he blew a six-shot lead and finished runner-up to Justin Rose.

“I felt like I had a tough time judging the wind today for some reason,” Johnson said. “It kept switching directions a lot. I felt like I hit a lot of good shots that didn’t end up in good spots.”

Full-field scores from the Valspar Championship

Valspar Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson was riding a streak of 14 straight sub-70 rounds, one that dated back to the opening round of the Genesis Open more than a month ago and included a third-round 67 to begin the day alone in second place. But he never threatened breaking par, let alone putting together a score in the 60s, as two bogeys over his first four holes left him in chase mode for much of the afternoon.

Johnson already has two wins to his credit this year, and Sunday’s result is still his fourth straight top-10 finish as he heads back to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play next week, a tournament he won two years ago.

“I hit good putts, they just didn’t go in the hole,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I played bad. Felt like I was swinging well, and I still feel like I’m swinging well. I’ve still got a lot of confidence in the game, but just, yeah. Tough day, tough conditions and wasn’t spot on.”

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2019 Valspar Championship tee times, viewer’s guide

This week the PGA Tour makes its final stop on the Florida Swing at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida for the Valspar Championship, played on Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course. Next week, the tour will head to Texas for the WGC-Match Play, followed by the Valero Texas Open and then it will be the week we’ve all been waiting for: Masters week.

This year’s Valspar has a tough act to follow in more ways than one. First, it comes after an exciting Players Championship, the tour’s biggest non-major event that provided one of the best Sundays of the season so far. Second, last year’s Valspar was arguably the best non-major tournament of the year thanks to Tiger Woods nearly winning the event in the early stage of his latest comeback. Ultimately, he would lose to Paul Casey by one stroke after failing to birdie the 72nd hole. Woods will not be in the field this week.

However, many of the world’s best are making the short trip from Jacksonville down to Palm Harbor to tee it up at Innisbrook, giving the Valspar as strong of a field as its ever had. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who will be making just his second start in the event, is the main draw, but there are plenty of other marquee names that will make the Valspar appointment television. Jon Rahm, fresh off a rough Sunday at Sawgrass, will look to bounce back as he plays alongside Jason Day and Webb Simpson the first two rounds. Henrik Stenson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson and defending champion Paul Casey will also tee it up. Jim Furyk, who nearly pulled off the unthinkable last week, is in the field as well.

TV Schedule

The Golf Channel will carry live coverage on Thursday and Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET, as well as Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. NBC will take over on the weekend beginning at 3 p.m.

Leader board

Follow all the action from Tampa on the Golf Digest PGA Tour leader board.

Thursday Tee Times (all times ET)

No. 1 Tee

7:40 a.m. — Alex Prugh, Scott Langley, Brandon Hagy

7:51 a.m. — Bud Cauley, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Beau Hossler

8:02 a.m. — Patrick Rodgers, Tyrrell Hatton, Peter Uihlein

8:13 a.m. — Kevin Tway, Ryan Armour, Russell Knox

8:24 a.m. — Martin Trainer, Kevin Kisner, Luke Donald

8:35 a.m. — Kevin Na, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson

8:46 a.m. — Hudson Swafford, Jim Herman, Chez Reavie

8:57 a.m. — Charley Hoffman, Hunter Mahan, C.T. Pan

9:08 a.m. — Nick Taylor, Sangmoon Bae, Anirban Lahiri

9:19 a.m. — Matt Jones, Brian Davis, Denny McCarthy

9:30 a.m. — Sam Burns, Sepp Straka, Rod Perry

9:41 a.m. — Julian Etulain, Cameron Davis, Dylan Meyer

12:30 p.m. — Alex Cejka, John Senden, Brian Gay

12:41 p.m. — David Hearn, Roberto Castro, J.T. Poston

12:52 p.m. — Billy Hurley III, Louis Oosthuizen, Kenny Perry

1:03 p.m. — Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Gary Woodland

1:14 p.m. — Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk

1:25 p.m. — Brendan Steele, Chris Stroud, Rod Pampling

1:36 p.m. — Michael Kim, Ted Potter, Jr., Chesson Hadley

1:47 p.m. — Chris Kirk, Morgan Hoffmann, Sam Ryder

1:58 p.m. — Charl Schwartzel, Sam Saunders, Seamus Power

2:09 p.m. — Danny Lee, Lucas Glover, Shawn Stefani

2:20 p.m. — Carlos Ortiz, Max Homa, Seth Reeves

2:31 p.m. — Sebastian Munoz, Dylan Frittelli, Ryan Vermeer

No. 10

7:40 a.m. — Brian Stuard, Rory Sabbatini, Tom Hoge

7:51 a.m. — Peter Malnati, Cameron Tringale, Joel Dahmen

8:02 a.m. — Ryan Moore, Harold Varner III, Ollie Schniederjans

8:13 a.m. — Webb Simpson, Jason Day, Jon Rahm

8:24 a.m. — Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia

8:35 a.m. — Keegan Bradley, Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink

8:46 a.m. — Satoshi Kodaira, Russell Henley, Cody Gribble

8:57 a.m. — Graeme McDowell, Nick Watney, Joaquin Niemann

9:08 a.m. — Freddie Jacobson, Jason Kokrak, Kelly Kraft

9:19 a.m. — Vaughn Taylor, Sung Kang, Roger Sloan

9:30 a.m. — Kyoung-Hoon Lee, Hank Lebioda, Kyle Jones

9:41 a.m. — Stephan Jaeger, Joey Garber, Austin Connelly

12:30 p.m. — Scott Stallings, Harris English, Sungjae Im

12:41 p.m. — Bill Haas, Kevin Streelman, Tyler Duncan

12:52 p.m. — Robert Streb, John Huh, Trey Mullinax

1:03 p.m. — Andrew Landry, Grayson Murray, D.A. Points

1:14 p.m. — Patton Kizzire, Austin Cook, Mackeznie Hughes

1:25 p.m. — Brian Harman, Adam Hadwin, Danny Willett

1:36 p.m. — Brice Garnett, Jonas Blixt, K.J. Choi

1:47 p.m. — Scott Brown, Richy Weresnki, Brandon Harkins

1:58 p.m. — Branden Grace, Michael Thompson, Ryan Blaum

2:09 p.m. — Wyndham Clark, Adam Svensson, Jose de Jesus Rodriguez

2:20 p.m. — Adam Schenk, Roberto Diaz, Jim Knous

2:31 p.m. — Chase Wright, Kramer Hickok, Akshay Bhatia

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