Monday Finish: Recapping Sunday's drama at Travelers
June 29, 2020
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Dustin Johnson shoots 67 to win at Travelers
It was never a matter of if, just when. One of those things in golf you come to expect. Like Phil Mickelson producing a head-scratching flop shot, or Jordan Spieth holing out from off a green. Dustin Johnson will always win at some point.
Johnson extended his run to 13 straight seasons with at least one PGA TOUR victory with his triumph at TPC River Highlands, taking his career tally to 21. It was another great Travelers Championship – a tournament that always finds a way to bring some drama even when it appears it might not.
Welcome to the Monday Finish where we all wish we could be as nonchalantly successful as DJ.
THREE KEYS TO SUCCESS
1. CONSISTENCY – Not inside a tournament, or even a round, but over a career. Johnson now has at least one win in his first 13 seasons on TOUR as a member, the fourth best streak of its kind on the all-time list. Only Arnold Palmer (17), Jack Nicklaus (17) and Tiger Woods (14) started with longer streaks, and we’re not sure you should bet against Johnson catching all of them. With his 365 career weeks inside the FedExCup top 30 (moved from 103rd to 22nd with the win) the most of all time since it began in 2007, Johnson has proven himself a constant performer. He now sits tied for 30th on the all-time win list, joining Davis Love III, Lanny Wadkins, Craig Wood & Willie MacFarlane at 21. One other number to remember is 30, the biggest win drought of tournaments for Johnson in his career. That’s pretty darn impressive. Read much more on that and why Johnson should command great respect here.
2. RESILIENCE – Johnson has had his fair share of meltdowns over the years. Some of which would potentially be the end of any sort of good career, let alone a great one he’s already had. His gift of being able to forget things and move on was on display again all week at Travelers. First off, he opened with a 1-under 69 which while might sound decent, had him sitting in T79th place. He’d never won an event after being so far back post Round One. Rather than kick stones he jumped out the gates in Round Two with a 64 and then on Saturday put up a new career-low 61 to surge his way back into contention. On Sunday it appeared he was cruising to victory after Brendon Todd produced a costly triple bogey on the 12th hole only for Johnson to hit his tee shot on 13 out of bounds. A bogey there could have derailed his psyche, instead he bounced back with birdie. A bogey on 16 might have sent the heart rate of most into overdrive. Johnson got to 18 one ahead and showed no fear, pumping his drive down the middle into wedge territory to help secure the win.
3. RETURN OF FORM – For the 2019-2020 season prior to this week, Johnson’s stats had not been the prettiest of his career. But at Travelers he stepped up his game big time. His Strokes Gained: Approach had been T79 entering the week but was sixth at Travelers and his proximity to the hole was fourth at Travelers having come in at T46 on the season. His approach game from 50-125 yards ranked a dismal 215th coming in but he was T22 on the week in that area. On the greens Johnson was 134th entering the week in Strokes Gained: Putting but was fourth at TPC River Highlands. His putting from 4-8 feet was T3 this week compared to 219th on TOUR prior and his average feet of putts made was ninth at Travelers after being T114th on the season. Here are more numbers to know from his efforts.
Rory ready to rest. Rory McIlroy had his best performance of the first three Return to Golf events at the Travelers, finishing just outside the top 10, but the FedExCup champion was far from happy with his efforts. He bemoaned “stupid shots” and “dumb mistakes” during the week and resolved to take a few weeks off to reset himself and freshen up in mind and body. While not at his best over the three weeks there was enough to suggest he will once again be a huge player in this season’s Playoffs.
Target Todd. Brendon Todd may have faded late Sunday to a disappointing 5-over 76 but it was refreshing to see him back amongst it in 2020. Having broken the shackles of a huge career slump during the fall portion of this season back in late 2019 with two wins, Todd had stalled in the 2020 portion of things. But the precision shown from him for the majority of the tournament – he hit 46 of the first 47 fairways, 50 of the first 52 and 51 of 56 total – showed his comeback isn’t just a flash in the pan. Todd has the ability to be a serious contender any week out there.
Gordon goes low. Will Gordon became the latest in a long list of up and comers who get sponsor invites at the Travelers Championship to make a name for himself. Gordon, the 2019 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, earned himself Special Temporary Membership with his T3 finish and now can take unlimited starts in the run home as he looks to keep his non-member points high enough to join the TOUR as a member next season. The learning curve for the youngster was a large one, shooting a 61 in Round 2 to be in the final group with Phil Mickelson on Saturday. He showed plenty, including his flurry of a finish on Sunday to secure his fate. Read more here.
Phil Thrills. Phil Mickelson had us all believing he might actually win his first TOUR event since turning 50. The veteran was brilliantly measured over the opening two rounds, managing to stay out of a big hitting contest with Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau in the opening rounds to take the 36-hole lead. His fade on the weekend to finish T24 was a little disappointing for his legion of fans but the fact remains he showed enough to suggest 44 won’t be his final win tally.
“I'm looking at this week as progress. Certainly the goal is to win golf tournaments, but keep in mind I've missed a bunch of cuts,” Mickelson said. “I haven't played to the level I've wanted to, and this week I came in and had a lot of great finds. I hit a lot of good shots, hit a lot of good tee shots. My misses were much better.”
Mickelson confirmed he will return to competition at the new Workday Charity Open.
“I feel Muirfield Village is a great course for me, and I feel like this is a good momentum builder. There was a lot of good things that happened here that I need to refine, I need to touch up, but I felt like a lot of good things happened this week, and again, the goal is to win, but I also need to identify the fact that I made a lot of progress this week, too.”
Morikawa is human. Some still thought he might be half cyborg given the fact he had made 22 straight cuts since he turned pro. But the streak ended at TPC River Highlands, just short of Tiger Woods’ record.
Testing Times. It was a tough week for a handful of players who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cameron Champ withdrew after a positive test pre-tournament while Graeme McDowell, Brooks Koepka, Chase Koepka also pulled out after some caddie positives. Chase has been given an assurance of a spot in the 2021 field having Monday qualified to get in but pulling out as a precaution to the field. Webb Simpson was another scratch under concerns a family member might have the virus although they were cleared later in the week. Denny McCarthy tested positive after the opening round and Dylan Frittelli also had a positive test post tournament. Jason Day was cleared after some initial fears on the weekend. The TOUR adjusted a handful of protocols to further mitigate risks going forward.
“Anytime you're mentioned with those guys, with Tiger, Jack, Arnie, you've got to feel good about that because they're the best that's ever played this game. Anytime your name is mentioned in the same sentence with them, I'm very happy.” – Dustin Johnson
“Decision-making was terrible the last few days. Just some stupid shots and trying to take too much on at times. Just sort of dumb mistakes in there that I don't usually make.” – Rory McIlroy.
The Wyndham Rewards Top 10 is a season-long competition that offers a $10 million bonus for the 10 golfers who end the regular season at the Wyndham Championship inside the top 10 in FedExCup points. The player atop the standings will earn $2 million, with varying payoffs for the others through $500,000 for the 10th place finisher.
Webb Simpson holds on to the top spot this week despite having to WD pre-tournament. In fact the top eight spots have stayed intact following play at TPC River Highlands. The only change to the top-10 is Lanto Griffin has edged his way from 10th to ninth, leaving Sebastian Munoz in 10th as Abraham Ancer and Bryson DeChambeau edge closer.
Winner Dustin Johnson led a host of big movers in the in the FedExCup. Johnson jumped 81 spots from 103rd to 22nd with his victory. Seung-Yul Noh (T11) moved up 53 spots from 247th to 194th, Patton Kizzire (T6) is up 47 spots from 208 to 161st, Scott Stallings (T6) is up 42 spots from 161st to 119th, Si Woo Kim (T11) jumped 32 spots from 177th to 145th, Wesley Bryan (T24) enjoyed a 32 spot bump from 241st to 209th and Ryan Armour (T6) moved into the playoff zone, jumping 31 spots from 143rd to 112th.
Runner up Kevin Streelman improved from 41st to 18th and third placed Mackenzie Hughes enjoyed a rise from 70th to 46th.
Here’s how the standings look heading into this week's Rocket Mortgage Classic.
THIS WEEK LAST WEEK PLAYER 1. 1.
5. 5. Patrick Reed
6. 6. Brendon Todd
9. 10. Lanto Griffin 10. 9.