Steady DJ keeps focus on way to FedExCupPlays steady to hold off Thomas, Schauffele for season-long title
September 08, 2020
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
Dustin Johnson’s Round 4 highlights from TOUR Championship
Dustin Johnson begins the tournament with a “starting strokes” lead of between two and 10 strokes over the entire 30-man field, then plays steady-to-spectacular golf over the next four days to take home the FedExCup.
It’s the long-awaited first victory for Johnson in the season-long race, and rewards a spectacular summer in which he won three times, finished second twice, and regained the No. 1 world ranking.
Welcome to the Monday Finish.
THREE KEYS TO SUCCESS
1. He was healthy. It’s easy to forget that Johnson underwent left knee surgery after last year’s TOUR Championship, and gave himself limited starts at the beginning of this season as he tried to find his way back. It’s also easy to forget Johnson withdrew with a back injury after shooting an opening-round 78 at the 3M Open. As the recent example of Brooks Koepka reminds, this game is hard enough in ordinary times, and nearly impossible to play when you’re injured. Healthy again and on a roll, Johnson has the U.S. Open and the Masters dead ahead, and wasted no time declaring his goal for the new season: Win a second FedExCup title.
2. He rode the hot streak. When he missed the cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge in June, Johnson was outside the top 100 in the FedExCup. A win at the Travelers Championship gave way to a pair of 80s at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, where Justin Thomas, who played with him, said, “I’ve never seen him that lost.” So who could have predicted this? Johnson finished T12 at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, T2 at the PGA Championship, first at THE NORTHERN TRUST, second at the BMW Championship, and won the TOUR Championship. A short memory is great for golf, and you can’t keep talent like his down.
For more on Johnson’s win, click here.
3. He didn’t get caught up in stats. Johnson missed a lot of fairways at East Lake, but as is his wont, he didn’t dwell on it. The fairways were narrow, he was missing many of them by only a few yards, and he was still playing better than anyone on TOUR. “It's not like it's that far off,” he said after a second-round 70 in which he spent most of the day in the rough. “It wasn't like I was hitting drives that I've never seen before or anything. You know, just the setup was a little bit off. But this golf course, obviously the fairways are narrow. It's tough to hit them. But if you can hit it in the fairway, the golf course is right there for the taking.” He straightened it out on the weekend, went 64-68, and is now all but certain to be voted PGA TOUR Player of the Year by his peers.
In the second year of the starting-strokes format, Johnson started with a three-stroke lead over Thomas, and a seven-shot lead over Schauffele. Over 72 holes at East Lake, Thomas tied him and 2017 TOUR Championship winner Schauffele beat him by four. You could even say he won the game within the game.
Not that he was taking a victory lap, even if a tie for second in the FedExCup is not too shabby.
“He deserves to win,” Schauffele said, noting Johnson’s body of work over the course of the season, which saw him capture the Travelers Championship and THE NORTHERN TRUST, finish second to Collin Morikawa at the PGA Championship and Jon Rahm at the BMW Championship, and bring it home at the TOUR Championship.
Johnson would’ve tied for third absent the starting strokes at East Lake. Scottie Scheffler, who finished fifth in the FedExCup, also beat him in Atlanta, by one, but started just too far back – eight strokes.
“He obviously is playing great golf,” Schauffele said of Johnson, “and I think that's what the Playoffs is all about.”
As for Schauffele, a four-time TOUR winner, he was enviably consistent with 16 top-25 finishes, including seven top-10s, in 18 starts. True, he never quite made it to the trophy ceremony, but he seems to be heating up just in time for what promises to be a jam-packed fall, including the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in two weeks.
“I'm starting to kind of hit my driver better,” he said, “hit my irons a little bitter, obviously putted incredible this week, and it's a good time to start playing well before a major.”
"When I went through all three stages of Q-school and got my TOUR card I think they gave me like a $25,000 check. I thought I was rich." – Dustin Johnson
“He was putting so bad and playing so bad. But he never gave up.” – Justin Thomas on watching Johnson shoot 80-80 at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide in July
“He deserves to win.” – Xander Schauffele on Johnson’s 1-2-1 run in the FedExCup Playoffs
FINAL FEDEXCUP STANDINGS
For his body of work over the entire season, especially since the restart in June, Dustin Johnson earned his first FedExCup title by three over Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele.
Here’s how the FedExCup top 10 shook out for the 2019-20 season.
1. Dustin Johnson -21
T2. Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele -18
4. Jon Rahm -17
5. Scottie Scheffler -14
6. Collin Morikawa -13
7. Tyrrell Hatton -12
T8. Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, Sebastián Muñoz -11
Super pumped to finally win the FedEx Cup. Thank you to my team and supporters! My brother Austin, all the fans, @TaylorMadeGolf, @DJGolfSchool, @netjets, @Hublot, @adidasGolf, @RBC, @DrinkBODYARMOR.— Dustin Johnson (@DJohnsonPGA) September 7, 2020
A little rest and then prep time for Winged Foot. pic.twitter.com/UHDcloP1xV
Year 4 in the books. Gave DJ a run down the stretch but he held on - congrats on the win— Xander Schauffele (@XSchauffele) September 7, 2020
Back to work at the U.S. Open in a couple weeks pic.twitter.com/4TrFNDliLB