Dustin Johnson Hits the Jackpot and Wins FedEx Cup
Dustin Johnson survived a front-nine stumble to see off the challenge of Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele and win the FedEx Cup and the small matter of $15m. The Dustinator was not at his best but he had begun the day with a five-shot lead and was never seriously threatened.
Afterwards, he was as excited as Dustin Johnson ever gets. “This is a difficult golf course so no lead is big enough,” he said. “I hit the fairways I needed to coming down the stretch and the guys made me fight for it all the way. I wanted to win the FedEx Cup and I am really proud ion the way I have played the last four tournaments. I am now going to take a few days off and then I will get ready for the US Open, so not much time to relax.”
The key moment probably came at the 13th. Short of the par four in two, he hit a dreadful chip but then holed a 25-footer for par. Minutes earlier playing partner Schauffele, who had also fluffed his chip, missed his par putt. It meant that Johnson went into the final five holes leading by three.
On an extraordinary day, Thomas looked like he was going to make a serious challenge. He birdied the first, third, fourth, sixth and seventh but also dropped shots at the second and eighth as he moved to within three shots of Johnson. But the birdies dried up on the second nine.
Schauffele picked up shots at the first, third, 11th and 12th but, pushing hard to narrow the gap on Johnson, he missed too many fairways and missed several more birdie chances. When he bogeyed the 13th it took him back to 17 under, three behind Johnson.
Johnson started well, with birdies at the third, fifth and sixth. At that point he was cruising, but he dropped shots at the seventh and eighth to give the chasing pack some hope. However, they were unable to take advantage.
Johnson had a glorious opportunity to extend his lead after a wonderful approach to the par-four 14th, but the ball dribbled by the hole. Schauffele had missed the fairway from the tee, came up short with his second but produced a world-class approach and holed a six-foot putt to save his par.
When Thomas really needed a birdie at the 233-yard par-three 15th he instead found a green side bunker and did well to save his par. He went to the 16th three adrift.
Jon Rahm, winner of last week’s BMW Championship, will be left to rue a poor second round that effectively took him out of contention. He battled back brilliantly and maintained his excellent form in the final round, with birdies at the third, fourth, 12th and 13th, as well as an eagle at the par-five sixth. Unfortunately, he had dropped two shots at the fourth, and another one went at the 10th. He birdied the last for a round of 66 and ended the tournament on 17 under par.
Needing to birdie the final three holes to have any chance of catching Johnson, Thomas hit his approach at the 16th to 12 feet and when he holed the putt he was 18 under and only two behind Johnson. Behind him, Johnson faced a 15-footer for a birdie of his own but he missed. Sadly, Thomas gave the shot back at the 17th after a wild drive, just as Schauffele was picking up a birdie at the 16th after holing a 30-footer, and now he was the man who was two behind the leader.
In the third round, Johnson hit 11 of 14 fairways but during the final round he struggled to find the short and prepared and was depending on his short game to see him through - and it was up to the task.
Super pumped to finally win the FedEx Cup. Thank you to my team and supporters! My brother Austin, all the fans, @TaylorMadeGolf, @DJGolfSchool, @netjets, @Hublot, @adidasGolf, @RBC, @DrinkBODYARMOR.— Dustin Johnson (@DJohnsonPGA) September 7, 2020
A little rest and then prep time for Winged Foot. pic.twitter.com/UHDcloP1xV
Johnson and Schauffele both parred the 17th and so they came to the final hole, a par five, with Johnson still leading by two. Up ahead, Thomas birdied the hole to finish the week on 18 under. Johnson and Schauffele also picked up shots on the par five, meaning Johnson finished the week on 21 under par, beating Thomas and Schauffele by three.
PGA champion Collin Morikawa had another excellent week. He could be forgiven for feeling the pace at the end of what has been an extraordinary run of form but he kept battling away until the final hole and eventually finished sixth.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy finished with a 67 for an 11-under-par final total, a shot behind England’s Tyrrell Hatton, who will head to the US Open at Winged Foot full of confidence.
“I am really happy with how I played,” said Hatton. “I got off to good start in the final round and finished well. My next start is the US Open. I feel comfortable with my swing and will start to get ready for Winged Foot on Wednesday before going home for three weeks. It was a tough test this week and I take confidence to the US Open.”
Scottie Scheffler finished 14 under, a performance that was good enough to secure him the rookie of the year award.
An interesting footnote - Schauffele’s 66 was his 16th successive sub-par score on this golf course. And had it not been for the handicap system in operation (Johnson began the week on 10 under), then Schauffele would have won by three shots, with Scheffler in second place and Thomas and Johnson tied for third.
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