ATLANTA — Dustin Johnson solely seems like he performs and not using a pulse. Beneath his stoic stare and that swagger as he walked the fairways of East Lake on Monday have been jangled nerves as a result of it meant a lot to him.
The $15 million prize for profitable the FedEx Cup? That will get anybody’s consideration, particularly somebody who thought he was wealthy when Johnson cashed his first event verify for $113,571 as a PGA Tour rookie.
However there was extra.
“The status, for positive,” Johnson stated after delivering a key par putt and regular play down the stretch for a 2-under 68 and a 3-shot victory within the Tour Championship.
“Being a FedEx Cup champion is one thing that I actually needed to do. I needed to carry that trophy on the finish of the day. It was one thing that I needed to perform throughout my profession.”
He did it by hitting his stride at simply the best time.
He gained two of the three FedEx Cup postseason occasions and misplaced in a playoff by a 65-foot putt within the different. All of it got here all the way down to the ultimate day of the ultimate occasion, and even with a 5-shot lead, it was by no means straightforward.
Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas every received inside Three photographs on the entrance 9. They every received inside 2 photographs of Johnson with two holes to play. Johnson by no means allow them to catch him, and his solely birdie of the again 9 on the ultimate gap gave him his third victory since June and the 23rd of his PGA Tour profession.
“It is a very powerful trophy to win,” Johnson stated. “I managed my very own future, however I nonetheless needed to exit and play properly. I had lots of nice gamers proper behind me. It received shut on the finish. I knew it was going to return down the stretch and I would need to hit some golf photographs.”
None was larger than the 20-foot par putt on the 13th gap to maintain his lead at three photographs, the 5-iron safely on the inexperienced on the hardest gap at East Lake, one other 5-iron over the water on the par-3 15th — the one gap the place large numbers lurk — and a wedge out of a deep bunker and onto the inexperienced on the 16th.
“This can be a powerful golf course. No lead is protected,” Johnson stated. “The blokes gave me a great combat right now.”
Johnson turned the primary No. 1 seed on the Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup since Tiger Woods in 2009. Now Johnson has his identify etched on the silver trophy alongside among the finest from his era, beginning with Woods and most just lately Rory McIlroy, with Corridor of Famers, main champions and former world No. 1 gamers in between.
Schauffele, who tends to convey his finest golf to large moments, reduce the result in 2 photographs when he and Johnson needed to scramble for par on the 13th. Schauffele missed his par putt from 25 toes, and Johnson dropped his in.
“He is right here to win the event,” stated Schauffele, who closed with a 66 and had the bottom 72-hole rating of the occasion at 265. “He made that putt. I did not. That was a pinnacle second.”
Thomas made bogey from a wild tee shot to the best on the 17th. Schauffele additionally needed to scramble on the 17th, escaping with par after a tee shot into the bunker. On the par-5 18th, Johnson unleashed a drive that began left alongside the pine timber and light gently towards the center of the green.
That arrange a birdie from the entrance bunker, a hug with brother and caddie, Austin, and a trophy Johnson lengthy needed.
Johnson was staked to a five-shot lead at 19-under par — 9 below on his personal rating and beginning the event at 10 below because the No. 1 seed within the FedEx Cup. He completed at 21 below.
Schauffele and Thomas tied for second, every incomes $4.5 million.
Jon Rahm, the No. 2 seed, closed with a 66 to complete fourth and earn $Three million. Scottie Scheffler, who a 12 months in the past was on the point of begin his rookie 12 months, had a 66-65 end and was fifth for a $2.5 million payoff.
Thus wrapped up the strangest season on the PGA Tour, which does not look like the tip, apart from the $15 million awarded to Johnson — $14 million now and $1 million deferred.
The brand new season begins Thursday. Two majors are nonetheless to be performed.
Golf was shut down for 3 months, and when it restarted, Johnson was No. 111 within the FedEx Cup. He gained the Vacationers Championship. He adopted with a pair of 80s within the Memorial and a 78 on the 3M Open in Minnesota, earlier than he withdrew as a result of he wasn’t feeling fairly proper.
Since then, he seems like the largest expertise in golf.
“I performed with him on the Memorial, and I’ve by no means seen him as misplaced, wherever remotely near that misplaced,” Thomas stated of Johnson. “He was placing so unhealthy and taking part in so unhealthy. However he by no means gave up. He was simply looking for it on the market, and he could not discover it once more the subsequent week; after which subsequent factor you understand, two months later, he is the FedEx Cup champion.
“I feel that is all it is advisable to learn about golf proper there.”
In 4 straight tournaments in opposition to the very best fields, Johnson had the 54-hole lead thrice and was tied within the different. He transformed one into an 11-shot win. He misplaced to a 65 by Collin Morikawa on the PGA Championship and to a 65-foot putt by Rahm on the BMW Championship.
Johnson badly needed the final one, and even staked to a 5-shot result in par at East Lake, it was by no means straightforward.
It hardly ever is for Johnson.
However he is again on high at No. 1 — with a trophy he badly needed. Subsequent up is the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in two weeks, a troublesome course, the type Johnson loves. Nonetheless to return is the Masters. The celebration can wait till the vacations. He desires to maintain going.
“I am taking part in properly. I’ve received lots of confidence within the sport,” he stated. “I am actually wanting ahead to the subsequent clearly couple months.”