Johnson holds on to beat Rahm in Match Play final

Johnson built a 5-up lead after eight holes and held on, though only barely, after a late Rahm rally that cut the lead to 1-up after 16 holes.

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“Today was a really tough day. I’m proud of the way I played, the way I stayed in there, even though he (Rahm) made some birdies on the back nine,” Johnson told NBC television after sinking his winning putt from inside three feet at the final hole.

Johnson earlier barely survived his semi-final against 54th seed Hideto Tanihara, winning 1-up after the Japanese player missed a good chance to win the 18th hole.

Rahm beat American 42nd seed Bill Haas 3&2 in the other semi.

It was Johnson’s third consecutive victory, after he won the event formerly known as the Los Angeles Open and then the WGC-Mexico Championship.

Johnson’s five WGC titles puts him second behind Tiger Woods, who has 18.

Johnson said the key to victory had been avoiding mistakes.

“I didn’t give him any holes, except for 10 (where) I three-putted. It was tough out there. The greens got really fast, the wind was affecting all the putts. Jon played really well. I just didn’t really give him anything.”

In a final that matched two of the game’s longest hitters, Johnson looked set to cruise to victory thanks to his big early lead, but it got interesting near the end.

Rahm, 3-down with four holes left, came to life, winning the par-four 15th with a birdie before taking the par-five 16th with another birdie, sinking a 30-footer after an astonishing second shot from the rough that he somehow threaded through an oak tree.

Rahm then drove through the green at the par-four 18th, ending up over the back, from where, perhaps distracted by a loud sudden banging noise just as he started his swing, he misjudged his 80-foot chip shot and could only par, allowing Johnson to escape with the win.

In the match for third place, Haas beat Tanihara 2&1, though the loser at least enjoyed a hole-in-one at the par-three seventh.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry)

White House warns rebel conservatives

Fresh off a defeat on US healthcare legislation, the White House warned has rebellious conservative lawmakers that they should get behind President Donald Trump’s agenda or he may bypass them on future legislative fights.

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The threat by White House chief of staff Reince Priebus to build a broad coalition on tax reform that could include moderate Democrats came as the Republican head of the tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives said he hoped to move a tax bill through his panel this spring.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said his committee had been working on tax reform in parallel with the failed healthcare reform push.

“We’ve never stopped working,” Brady told Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo. “We will continue to make improvements.”

Brady said the committee planned to move on the bill in the spring. He said he wanted the House blueprint to be the basis for Trump’s tax reform plan rather than have competing versions from Treasury and the White House.

Both Trump and Priebus have scolded hardline conservatives who rejected legislation backed by the White House to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Priebus held out the possibility of working with moderate Democrats as well as Republicans to pass other aspects of Trump’s agenda, such as his proposed budget, the revamp of the tax code and a renewed effort at healthcare reform.

“If we can come up with a bill that accomplishes the goals of the president with Republicans alone, we’ll take it and we’ll move forward with it,” Priebus said.

But he added: “I think it’s more or less a warning shot that we’re willing to talk to anyone. We always have been and I think more so now than ever.”

In an embarrassment for Trump, who had campaigned for the White House on what he said were his skills as a dealmaker, the healthcare bill was pulled from the floor of the House of Representatives on Friday because it failed to draw enough support from within Trump’s Republican Party.

Trump failed to win over the Freedom Caucus lawmakers despite courting them intensively. Outside conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America that are closely aligned with the Freedom Caucus had strongly opposed the Republican healthcare bill and urged lawmakers to reject it.

In a tweet on Sunday morning, Trump lashed out at both the Freedom Caucus and the conservative groups, saying their actions had left “Democrats smiling in D.C.”

Priebus said it was a “real shame” that conservative lawmakers decided not to get behind the healthcare bill.

“And I think the president is disappointed in the number of people he thought were loyal to him that weren’t,” he said.

US Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer later slammed Trump’s negotiation style during a television interview.

Trump showed a “basic lack of competence” during negotiations, the New York Democrat said during an interview with broadcaster ABC.

“You cannot run the presidency like you run a real estate deal. You can’t tweet your way through it. You can’t threaten and intimidate and say I’ll walk away. It’s more complicated,” Schumer said.

Schumer said the Affordable Care Act was not perfect and that his party was willing to work Republicans on any fixes.