Dustin Johnson polishes off tour de force stretch by winning FedEx Cup title and $15 million
ATLANTA – Hard to believe that two months ago Dustin Johnson shot 80-80 to miss the cut in the Memorial Tournament and then posted a 78 in the first round of the 3M Open the following week before withdrawing.
Well, the world No. 1 got over that stretch of abnormality rather quickly and capped off the PGA Tour season and his own six-week tour de force on Labor Day with a resilient victory in the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.
Johnson, who began the tournament with a two-shot lead as the No. 1 seed due to the staggered scoring format and led by five entering the final round after a sizzling 64 in Sunday’s third round, had to work hard to hold off Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas to win the FedEx Cup and $15 million.
Johnson closed with a grinding 2-under-par 68 to finish at 21 under and three shots clear of Thomas and Schauffele. He maintained his hefty advantage with three birdies in his first six holes and after consecutive bogeys at the seventh and eighth, came up with huge pars saves, one from seven feet on the 9th and another from 21 feet on the 13th. He put a bow on his season with a birdie on the last hole.
In his last four starts, Johnson has a tie for second in the PGA Championship, victory in the Northern Trust by 11 shots at 30 under, a playoff loss in last week’s BMW Championship and a win at East Lake. He’s 56 under the last four events and held at least a share of the 54-hole lead in each tournament.
Yes, the Memorial and 3M Open are in his rearview.
“It was a tough day, tough golf course, and I’m definitely excited it’s over and that I can celebrate a little bit now. It was a grind out there. But I’m very proud to be the FedExCup champion. It’s a very tough trophy to win and I’ve been close so many times,” Johnson said after his third victory this season. “I was nervous. I always get nervous because it means something. I get nervous on the first hole, kind of settled down a little bit, and then obviously the back nine definitely could feel it, just because there were a lot of really good players around me and they were playing well. So I knew I was going to have to shoot a good score on the back nine if I wanted to win.
“I wanted to hold that trophy at the end of the day. It was something that I wanted to accomplish during my career, and obviously I got one of them. Now I’m going to try to get me another.”
Dustin Johnson celebrates with the FedEx Cup Trophy after winning the 2020 Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Thomas and Schauffele both closed with 66 to tie for second and each won $4.5 million. Both got within two shots of Johnson during the final round. Thomas was the 2017 FedEx Cup champion and Schauffele has now won here, tied for second, finished second and tied for seventh in his four starts in the Tour Championship.
World No. 2 Jon Rahm, who beat Johnson in a playoff in the BMW Championship, shot 66 to finish solo fourth, four shots back and won $3 million.
“I actually didn’t look at (the leaderboards) today,” said Thomas, who made five birdies in his first seven holes but also bogeyed the second and eighth holes. “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. 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.”
Johnson’s World Golf Hall of Fame worthy resume now includes a FedEx Cup title, the 2016 U.S. Open, 23 PGA Tour titles and a record six wins in the playoffs and a record 21 top-10s in the playoffs. He’s also won at least one tournament in 13 consecutive seasons.