Dustin Johnson finished a stirring run of golf on Monday, winning the Tour Championship by three strokes while finishing second or better in all three FedEx Cup playoff events.
While pocketing the $15 million first prize at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Johnson also solidified his grip on his No. 1 spot in the world rankings during the final event of what was a trying 2019-20 season.
“This is a difficult golf course, and no lead is really safe, so I knew I had to come out and play really well,” Johnson said post-round on the NBC broadcast. “I got off to a really good start, missed some putts on the back nine … but I hit the fairways when I needed to coming down the stretch.”
Multiple PGA Tour tournaments earlier this year were either canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic while there was a three-month pause in play. When the PGA Tour resumed in June, no galleries were allowed on courses.
Johnson won three times since the resumption of play, starting with the Travelers Championship at Cromwell, Conn., from June 25-28.
After finishing in second at the PGA Championship last month at San Francisco, Johnson won The Northern Trust to start the FedEx Cup playoffs, finished second at the BMW Championship outside of Chicago last week and easily won the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club at Atlanta.
Heading into Monday’s final round with a five-stroke lead, Johnson put away his huge payday with a 2-under-par 68 to finish at 21 under for the tournament. Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele finished in a tie for second place at 18 under.
Dustin Johnson: FedEx title ‘definitely very satisfying’
Johnson, whose only major championship came at the 2016 U.S. Open, now is a PGA Tour season champion for the first time, a fact he said was “definitely very satisfying.”
“At this stage of my career I’m fortunate enough where I don’t need to think about (money),” he said. “It’s more — it’s all about winning and the trophies. The money is not — I don’t really care about that. I want to win tournaments, and I want to win trophies.”
Spain’s Jon Rahm, who won the BMW Championship ahead of Johnson, finished alone in fourth place at 17-under, while Scottie Scheffler was another three shots back and alone in fifth.
Not content to play a conservative final round, Johnson had birdies on the par-4 third hole, the par-4 fifth and the par-5 sixth to open his round. He then had a bogey on Nos. 7 and 8 to play the front nine at 1 under.
After collecting a par on the first eight holes of the back nine, he closed with a birdie at No. 18.
The victory made up for Johnson’s second-place finish in the 2016 Tour Championship, back when the top prize was $10 million. That event was won by Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
“I didn’t say I needed to win … I wanted to win,” Johnson said. “I wanted to be a FedEx Cup champion. That was something, in my career, I wanted to be. Obviously today I got the FedEx Cup. I was very proud by the way I played. I played really well, especially over the last four tournaments.”
Thomas said he never looked at the leaderboard Monday considering he and Schauffele each started five strokes back of Johnson. Thomas closed birdie-bogey-birdie, but it wasn’t enough.
“I was so far back I felt like I needed to kind of get in my own little world and make as many birdies as I can,” Thomas said. “I didn’t worry about DJ. First time I saw was on 12 and saw that he was 1 under. I was right there.
“I had a great chance today. Felt like my bogeys on the front were really from not bad shots, and I made enough birdies to at least give myself a chance on the back nine, which was all I could ask for being five back to start the day.”
Xander Schauffele said D.J. ‘deserves to win’
Schauffele praised Johnson his playoff-long performance.
“He deserves to win,” Schauffele said. “He won the first one, tied (for first and lost in a playoff) in the second. … He obviously is playing great golf, and I think that’s what the playoffs is all about.”
A little rest and then prep time for Winged Foot. pic.twitter.com/UHDcloP1xV
— Dustin Johnson (@DJohnsonPGA) September 7, 2020
Rounding out the top 10, Collin Morikawa was sixth at 13 under, England’s Tyrell Hatton was seventh at 12 under and Patrick Reed, Columbia’s Sebastian Munoz and McIlroy were tied for eighth at 11 under. McIlroy won last year’s Tour Championship.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)