By Chrös McDougall | June 04, 2019, 12:57 a.m. (ET)
John John Florence looks on at Margaret River Pro on June 4, 2019 in Margaret River, Australia.

 

Just four events into the World Surf League Men’s Championship Tour, John John Florence is making a case for a third series title.

The 26-year-old from North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, back after missing much of last season with an ACL injury, picked up his second win in four tries this season when he defeated American Kolohe Andino to win the Margaret River Pro on Tuesday morning local time in Western Australia.

Florence, who won back-to-back series titles in 2016 and 2017, got off to a fast start in 2019.

After opening the season with a third-place finish at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, Florence won the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach later that month in Victoria, Australia, earning him a nomination for the United States Olympic Committee’s Best of April award.

Though he finished 17th at last month’s Corona Bali Protected, Florence entered the Margaret River Pro in first place and was back to his winning ways this week.

After winning his seeding round and heats in the rounds of 32 and 16, Florence beat 2018 world No. 3 Italo Ferreira of Brazil, 17.73 to 15.36 in the quarterfinals, and then took out Ferreira's countryman Caio Ibelli 14.60 to 14.10 in the semifinals to set up a final heat against Andino.

With waves ranging from four to six feet, Florence took an early lead, scoring 7.67 on his second wave and 9.00 on his third wave to score 16.67. Andino, with top two waves of 7.17 and 7.93, couldn't quite match Florence, finishing with 15.10 points. The win marked Florence’s second at the Margaret River Pro, following his victory in 2017.

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Andino, who also finished second at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, moved up three spots and is now ranked second on the season, though he’s still seeking his first career win on the Men’s Championship Tour.

The top 10 men on tour – up to two per country – will qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, where surfing makes its Olympic debut, come December. With seven events remaining, Florence and Andino are first and second in the world.

The World Surf League moves next to the Oi Rio Pro later this month in Brazil.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.