Dustin Johnson birdied the first playoff hole against Jordan Spieth to win the Northern Trust in Old Westbury, N.J. on Sunday.
Johnson began the day trailing Spieth by three shots, and shot a solid 1-under on the front nine while Spieth was 2-under through five holes before bringing a host of players back into contention with a double-bogey on No. 6 and a bogey on No. 9.
Spieth steadied himself with a pair of birdies on Nos. 13 and 14. Johnson, who tracked Spieth down with a birdie on the 13th for a two-shot swing, fell behind on the next hole before pulling even again with his birdie on No. 15.
Spieth hit a clutch par putt on No. 17, but Johnson was not to be outdone in the dramatics department, hitting a lengthy par putt on the 18th hole that nearly circled the entire cup. Spieth sent it to the playoff with a short par putt, but Johnson closed the deal with his birdie on the first playoff hole.
“Jordan’s a tough competitor,” Johnson said. “He played really well all day. I felt like I played really good today.”
Johnson shot a 4-under 66 on Sunday to finish at 13-under, while Spieth shot a 1-under 69. Both players posted four rounds in the 60s for the tournament.
So, too, did Jon Rahm, who finished in a tie for second with Jhonattan Vegas at 9-under. Paul Casey was another shot back at 6-under, with Jason Day, Kevin Chappell, Webb Simpson and PGA Championship winning Justin Thomas finishing in a four-way tie for sixth.
It was the fourth victory of the year for Johnson, but the first since he suffered a back injury while slipping on the stairs of his rental home before the Masters in April. It was his 16th career victory, as Johnson strengthened his hold on the No. 1 ranking in the world.
With the victory, Johnson moved up three spots into first place in the FedExCup standings following the first leg of the playoffs. Spieth moved up one spot to No. 2. Thomas dropped one spot to No. 3, while Hideki Matsuyama dropped three spots to No. 4 by missing the cut.
“I’m expecting to play very well,” Johnson said. “I feel like the game is back into form, like it was leading into the Masters. I feel like I’m swinging really well. Getting the win here today gives me a lot of confidence going into next week and the rest of the playoffs.”
Spieth, who had closed out nine of his previous 10 54-hole leads, said he is not concerned about losing a three-shot lead in the final round and gave the credit to Johnson for the victory.
“I didn’t lose the tournament. He won it,” Spieth said. “(I) played well. Game feels good. And I recognized a couple tendencies that I got into with my swing towards the end of the round that prevented me from hitting great iron shots like I did before, so I know what to work on.”
NOTES: Bubba Watson finished in a tie for 10th place at 4-under and vaulted 41 spots from 113th to to 72nd in the FedExCup standings. The top 100 advance to the second leg of the playoffs at TPC Boston beginning on Thursday. Michael Kim missed the cut at 7-over this week, but earned the last spot into the field at TPC Boston at No. 100. Scott Stallings shot a 3-over 73 on Sunday and finished at No. 101 to end his season. … Phil Mickelson shot a five-over 75 on Sunday to finish at 6-over. He dropped from No. 51 to 58. … Rory McIlroy shot a 2-over 72 on Sunday and finished in a tie for 34th at 2-over for the tournament.