By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- As he was playing the 10th hole at East Lake Golf Club during Saturday's third round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, Dustin Johnson trailed Henrik Stenson by a distant nine strokes.
And just to be clear, Johnson was in second place at the time.
That's how dominant Stenson was over the first 45 holes of the FedExCup Playoffs finale. In fact, the Swede has owned the front nine at East Lake, racking up 13 birdies on that stretch alone, and he made the turn in command at 14 under par.
The back nine, though, has been a different story. Stenson bogeyed three of his last five holes on Saturday to finish at 11 under and Johnson was able to close the gap with a 67 that included a 33 on the back nine.
"Honestly, I didn't (know)," Johnson said when asked about Stenson's once-massive lead. "... I was just trying to get as many looks at birdie as I could and just trying to hole it."
Johnson, who won the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, came to East Lake as the last man into the start-studded field of 30. He has a shot at the $10 million bonus but he must earn the come-from-behind victory and have six other scenarios play out.
"I haven't gone that far," Johnson dead-panned when someone mentioned that he was still alive for the big payout. Mathematically, at least.
"I mean, there's so many different ways they could do it, but I think the way they're doing it is good," the big-hitting South Carolinian said. "It's worked pretty well the last few years. It kind of gives everyone a chance.
"So I kind of like it, but I'm going to just go out, do whatever I can to win the golf tournament or to put some pressure on Henrik and see what happens."
Johnson said he felt better about his game this week than he did at the BMW Championship when he three-putted "like 10 times or something." He put in some extra time on the practice green after getting to Atlanta and hit the range with his swing coach, Butch Harmon.
The results were almost immediate. Johnson is one of just four players to shoot in the 60s in each of the first three rounds. He went bogey-free on Friday in posting a 67 and made four birdies and dropped just one shot to par on Saturday.
"When I did miss the fairway, it was just off," Johnson said. "It was on a hole where I could get it on the green from the rough. So it was just a good solid stretch of golf. ... I'm just hitting the ball solid, hitting it where I'm looking.
"If I can keep driving it straight, then I'm going to give him a run tomorrow."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Dustin Johnson barely qualified for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, sneaking in at the 30th spot in the FedECup standings.
Now he's hoping to make the most of the opportunity.
The odds are still long for Johnson to win the FedExCup -- and a number of scenarios have to play out -- but he at least did his part with a good opening round at East Lake.
Johnson shot a 2-under 68 Thursday for what was just his fifth sub-par round in his last 17 here.
"Hit a couple of poor iron shots, but other than that, I'm pretty pleased with the way I struck it," he said. "I had a lot of opportunities to make birdie."
Johnson made six of them in all -- offset by four bogeys, including three in a four-hole stretch on his front nine.
Johnson is looking for his first win since the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which was shortened to 54 holes because of weather.
"I think by far it's the best round I've ever had starting out here," Johnson said of Thursday's round. "I'm very pleased with it. Just try to do what I did today and tomorrow and see what happens."
WEDNESDAY'S COVERAGE OF CAPTAIN'S PICKS
The four Captain's Picks for this year's Presidents Cup will be announced at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, Sept. 4, on the Golf Channel. At 2:20 p.m. ET, PGATOUR.COM will carry a live audio stream of the two captains and the picks discussing the choices.
U.S. captain Fred Couples and International captain Nick Price will each select two players to complete their 12-man rosters for their respective Presidents Cup teams. The selections will be announced at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday.Ten players earned spots on each team through points rankings, which closed Monday.
Who do you think the captains should select? Below is a chart listing the statistics of some of the captains' top choices. Will Couples choose two veterans, or will he take 20-year-old Jordan Spieth? Or will Couples give a spot to Webb Simpson, who was bumped from the team at the 11th hour? Five of Price's 10 team members are rookies? Will he choose players in good form, or try to fill his roster with veterans? Leave your opinion in the comments below.
|11. Webb Simpson||20||25||23||0||1||0||4||T-53|
|12. Dustin Johnson||23||23||20||1||1||0||5||T-27|
|13. Jim Furyk||15||15||20||0||1||1||6||T-27|
|22. Jordan Spieth||10||28||21||1||2||0||8||T-4|
|11. Thongchai Jaidee||N/A||58||18*||0||1||1||5||DNP|
|12. Marc Leishman||58||59||22||0||0||0||4||T-16|
|13. Tim Clark||80||60||20||0||1||0||3||MC|
|14. Brendon de Jonge||26||70||28||0||0||0||4||T-9|
|18. Geoff Ogilvy||104||94||19||0||1||0||1||DNP|
|22. K.J. Choi||73||106||24||0||0||0||2||T-41|
Note: players listed by ranking in team points; DBC finish is finish at Deutsche Bank Championship; *-European Tour events.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- The early pace has been set by Phil Mickelson. Now the question is can anyone from the afternoon wave catch him?
Here's a look at who and what to keep an eye on this afternoon from TPC Boston (all times ET):
Luke Donald, 12:22 p.m.: The once No. 1 player in the world and top-10 machine has just four top 10s this year, but he has had success here, finishing second in 2010 and third in 2011.
Sergio Garcia, 12:22 p.m.: Five years ago, Garcia finished fifth at TPC Boston. This year, he comes in looking for his first top 10 since THE PLAYERS Championship. At 59th in the FedExCup standings, however, he is safe for getting into the BMW Championship.
Rory McIlroy, 12:46 p.m.: What a difference a year makes. Last season, McIlroy was on top of the world and would win here and at the BMW Championship. This time he's just hoping to salvage what has been a mostly lost season. TPC Boston suits him well and this week could be telling.
Jason Day, Webb Simpson, 12:46p.m.: Day is playing with a sore wrist, but he has a good history here with a runner-up in 2010 and a third-place finish the following year. Likewise with Simpson, who won here in 2011.
Steve Stricker, Charl Schwartzel, 12:58 p.m.: This week marks Stricker's first Playoffs event of the year, while Schwartzel is making just his third appearance at TPC Boston (he's never finished in the top 20).
Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, 1:10 p.m.: Rose nearly forced a playoff last week before finishing one back of winner Adam Scott. Snedeker, meanwhile, is trying to regain his early-season form as he tries to become the first player to win back-to-back FedExCups.
Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, 1:10 p.m.: Given Johnson's length, TPC Boston sets up well for him. Twice he has finished in the top 5 here. Fowler, meanwhile, is coming off a top 10 last week.
Ernie Els, 1:34 p.m.: The Big Easy is on the outside looking in at 91st in the FedExCup standings. In the FedExCup era, Els has never not made it to at least the BMW Championship.
Dustin Johnson announced his engagement to Paulina Gretzky, daughter of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, on Sunday on Twitter. "@PaulinaGretzky she said yes!!!" Johnson tweeted, with a link to a photo of his new fiancee wearing a diamond ring.
Johnson, 29, has won seven times on the PGA TOUR, including this year's Hyundai Tournament of Champions with Gretzky in attendance. Johnson partnered with Wayne Gretzky in this year's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Dustin Johnson has won seven times on the PGA TOUR.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Dustin Johnson felt like he was playing well all week. He just hadn't scored well until Saturday.
Johnson fired a 65 in the third round that moved him 51 spots up the leaderboard and within sniffing distance of leader Jim Furyk, who is seven shots ahead.
Johnson started the day at 3 over for the tournament but was 2 under when he completed 54 holes.
"I felt like I played a lot better than my score was for the first couple of days," the lanky South Carolinian said.
"Today I hit it really well. The only bogey I made was on No. 5 and that was from the fairway. But I had a mud ball. ... Rolled the putter really well and just gave myself a lot of opportunities to make birdie."
Johnson has won seven times on the PGA TOUR, including the Hyundai Tournament of Champions earlier this year. He's had two close calls in majors, too -- the first coming at the 2010 PGA where a penalty for grounding his club in an ill-defined bunker kept him out of the playoff Martin Kaymer won and the second when he was runner-up to Darren Clarke at The Open Championship.
Whether Johnson can get into the mix again on Sunday depends on how much distance the leaders can put behind them in the third round.
"I thought it was playing pretty tough out there," Johnson said. "I played really well today, drove it well, drove it in the fairway, made some good putts. If this wind picks up, even par is a good score, I think. We'll just have to see what they do.
"Going into tomorrow, same game plan. Same thing I've been doing all week, just try to hit the fairways and get it on the green and get a look at birdie. This morning going out, the greens were perfect. So you knew if you hit good putts it was going in the hole."
By David McPherson, Special to the PGATOUR.COM
OAKVILLE, Ontario -- A moody Mother Nature, the overnight leader withdrawing, and players going low sums up the third round at the RBC Canadian Open.
After blessing Glen Abbey with perfect weather all week, Mother Nature changed her tune midway through the third round. A storm front rumbled through the area shortly after lunch, causing the tournament’s first weather delay.
The delay meant nothing to the overnight leader Hunter Mahan. He never teed off. The 31-year-old was on the driving range warming up, before the weather hit, when he received a call that his wife had gone into early labor. In a flash, he left the course, and jumped on a plane back to Dallas, Texas, to join his spouse.
Suddenly, the lead had narrowed by a couple of shots. And, with optimal scoring conditions after steady rainfall that softened the greens, players took advantage of this twist of fate.
Dustin Johnson struck first. He posted a 9-under 63 to get the early clubhouse lead at 11 under. The 29-year-old birdied the last three holes yesterday to make the cut and carried that momentum into his round today. Johnson sits T5 heading into tomorrow’s final round. Once again, he took advantage of Glen Abbey’s scoreable finishing three holes -- making birdie on 16 and an eagle on 18.
“Today I really didn’t make any mistakes,” Johnson said. “I hit it good all day long, hit it close, had a lot of birdie looks, and rolled a few putts in.”
Speaking of rolling a few putts in, that’s what Brandt Snedeker did in the afternoon -- taking only 25. With this hot putter (he said he’s had in his bag for seven years now) combined with some stellar wedge play, he matched Johnson’s 63 to take the lead heading into the final round.
“Today was obviously a great day,” Snedeker said. “I knew I was playing really well after yesterday and just kind of got some bad breaks during one stretch yesterday and went out there today and hit a lot of quality shots, gave myself a lot of good looks at birdies and obviously made a bunch of putts. When you do that, you're going to shoot a low score, and I was able to do that.”
Other players who took advantage of the softer conditions Saturday, included Matt Kuchar, who shot 64, David Lingmerth with a 65, a half-dozen other players shot 6-under 66s.
“You deal with all the elements that rain brings, but the rain also softens up the golf course, makes fairways play wider and the greens more receptive,” said Kuchar. “There were certainly a lot of opportunities for birdies. It seems like when the rain goes away, things calm down and the course gets really attackable.”
Tee times are out for the first two rounds of the RBC Canadian Open, where Scott Piercy is trying to become just the second player in the history of golf's third-oldest tournament to successfully defend his title. The only other player to do it was Jim Furyk, who went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
Here's a closer look at the group and other notable groups to watch the first two rounds (all times ET):
Scott Piercy, Ernie Els, Luke Donald: Piercy won this tournament a year ago and also played well in 2011, finishing sixth. Els, meanwhile, has had four finishes in the top six in his last eight starts worldwide. Donald finished third in the event in 2010. They'll tee off at 12:45 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 a.m. Friday.
Woody Austin, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk: Austin is coming off his first victory in six years and another strong performance could get him into the FedExCup Playoffs picture. McDowell, who won the RBC Heritage earlier this season, is playing this RBC event for the first time. They'll tee off at 12:55 p.m. Thursday and 7:40 a.m. Friday.
Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson: Kuchar has a half-dozen top 10s this year, including two wins. He also finished fourth in this tournament in 2010. Snedeker enters the week off three straight finishes in the top 20 and he finished fifth the last time this event was played at Glen Abbey. They'll tee off at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and 12:45 p.m. Friday.
Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan: It has been a breakout season for Horschel, who has seven top 10s, including a first, second and third. He's cooled of late, however, with no finishes in the top 30 in his last three starts. Mahan, who was in the final pairing on Sunday at Muirfield, finished fourth here in 2004. They'll tee off at 7:40 a.m. Thursday and 12:55 p.m. Friday.