Jon Rahm Holes Monster Putt to Win Dramatic BMW Championship
Jon Rahm holed a huge putt at the first playoff hole to win the BMW Championship and deny Dustin Johnson a second successive victory in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Rahm overcame a three-shot deficit with a sparkling final round of 64 at Olympia Fields, comfortably the lowest round of the week, and he looked certain to claim his fifth PGA Tour title in regulation with Johnson facing a 45-foot birdie putt on the final green.
But Johnson holed the putt for a round of 67 to force extra holes. The American hit a wayward tee shot but it struck a tree and finished in the middle of the fairway. Johnson knocked his second to the heart of the green, while Rahm's approach from the rough on the right settled at the back of the putting surface, leaving him with a huge task just to get down in two putts for par.
However, in scenes similar to Rahm's maiden win at Torrey Pines in 2017, the world No 2 got the pace and line right and celebrated wildly as his ball dropped into the centre of the cup before Johnson's attempt to extend the contest came up short.
Johnson retains the world No 1 ranking by virtue of his solo runner-up finish on the toughest course seen on the PGA Tour for many years - it was a challenge that proved to be too tough for many, including Tiger Woods, who failed make the elite field of 30 heading to the Tour Championship at East Lake.
Rahm dropped only one shot over the weekend when he picked his ball up on the fifth green having forgotten to mark it first, an error which incurred a one-shot penalty. He spoke afterwards of his concern at finishing one shot behind the champion, and there is little doubt Rahm would have been thinking about his mistake when he heard the cheers that greeted Johnson's unlikely birdie putt on the final hole.
“When they told me DJ had hit it on the green at the 18th I was like, ‘That extra shot cushion would be extremely nice right now, I’m not going to lie,’ said Rahm. “But at the same time, I don’t know if I would have won had it not happened. It kind of made me mad at myself and I just went on with my focus after that and was able to play amazing golf and stayed aggressive."
Rahm, winner of The Memorial at Muirfield Village last month, was three strokes off the lead overnight and made a bright start with birdies at two of the first four holes, but that looked to be a fruitless effort when Johnson birdied three of the first five to race to four-under par.
But Johnson, who won last week’s Northern Trust Open by 11 shots, bogeyed the eight and 10th as Joaquin Niemann suddenly found himself in the lead on three under after his fourth birdie of the day at the eighth.
Rahm rattled home a 15-footer for birdie at the 10th and picked up further shots at 12 and 15 before holing a thrilling putt from 30 feet for a bonus birdie at the 16th, while Johnson got back to within a shot of the leader when he safely two-putted for a welcome four at the long 15th.
Niemann's dropped shot at the 14th left him two behind Rahm, who closed out his 64 with two cast-iron pars before heading to the range to await the final groups.
Overnight co-leader Hideki Matsuyama birdied the 15th to get to two under, but he could not better par over the last three holes as he returned a 69 which saw him finish in a share of third with Niemann, who fired a 67 despite not carding a single birdie on the back nine.
Tony Finau reeled off four birdies after the turn and added another at the last as an inward 30 added up to a 65, the big-hitting American becoming the fifth and final player to complete 72 holes in red numbers.
Matt Fitzpatrick just missed out on a place at next week's Tour Championship after a valiant closing 70 lifted him into the top 10 on level par, while his playing partner, Rory McIlroy, mixed five bogeys with four birdies in a 71 that left him in a share of 12th on three over.
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