Johnson controls own destiny
September 24, 2016
By Mike McAllister , PGATOUR.COM
- Dustin Johnson can still win the FedExCup without winning the TOUR Championship. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
ATLANTA – Dustin Johnson is the FedExCup leader and the tournament co-leader entering Sunday’s final round of the TOUR Championship. The odds – and scenarios – are heavily stacked in his favor to become the 10th winner of the FedExCup.
Even if Johnson doesn’t win the tournament – he’s tied with Kevin Chappell at 8 under – he’ll probably win the FedExCup.
But not all the drama has been removed from the proceedings.
Thanks to Rory McIlroy’s move up the leaderboard with a third-round 66, Johnson’s margin of error has become significantly smaller. If McIlroy – currently at 6 under and tied for third -- wins the tournament and Johnson falls back into a tie for second, then McIlroy will be holding the FedExCup on Sunday night.
Johnson wins it if he finishes solo second.
Of course, his mindset right now is strictly on winning the tournament. If he does that, he’ll automatically win the FedExCup, since he controls his own destiny as one of the top five in points.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of scenarios that could happen,” Johnson said, “but I’m still going to go out and try to shoot as low a score as possible.”
One of those scenarios might be if McIlroy is leading the tournament and Johnson is tied with Chappell for second going into the last hole, the par-5 18th. What then?
“I’m probably going to be a little more aggressive,” Johnson said.
From McIlroy’s standpoint, he knows he must win and hope for help. Just as he did in Saturday’s third round, he said he would be watching the FedExCup standings throughout the day Sunday to check on Johnson’s status.
“I’m definitely a leaderboard watcher,” McIlroy said. “I always have been. I like to see where I’m at in relation to everyone else. … I knew the only person I really need to watch this week is D.J. I want to see where he is.”
McIlroy noticed on Saturday that when he checked on Johnson, “I felt like every time he made a mistake, he bounced right back with a birdie.”
Tied with McIlroy in third place is Ryan Moore, who started the week 14th in FedExCup points. His scenarios aren’t as favorable as McIlroy’s should he rally to win the tournament. Johnson would have to fall into a two-way tie for eighth.
“The best thing for me is just to focus on the task at hand – and that’s trying to put the best round I can together tomorrow and see what that lands me in the end,” Moore said. “There’s so many variables, there’s so many things that can happen.”
As for Chappell, who’s trying to win the first PGA TOUR event of his career, his odds are even longer. If Johnson falls to solo ninth and Chappell wins, that would create a playoff for the FedExCup. If Johnson ties for ninth, Chappell would win outright.
He’s not counting on it happening.
“The scenario has actually even gotten worse for me,” Chappell said. “I mean, he’s tied for the lead. I still have to do my work, and he has to do his. I don’t know what 10th place is, but he’s going to have to fall all the way back down there.
“So no, I haven’t thought about it one time.”
And yet the FedExCup could come down to how he fares on Sunday, whether he wins, or if Rory wins, whether Chappell ties Johnson for second or finishes third.
“If the chips fall my way,” McIlroy said, “then so be it.”
TOP 5 WATCH
Here’s how the top five players in FedExCup points entering the TOUR Championship fared in Saturday’s third round, along with their current projection. Should any one of the players below win the tournament, he is guaranteed the FedExCup.
1. Dustin Johnson – Shot a 1-under 69 and is tied for the lead. At one point on the front nine, he led by four shots, but a late double bogey brought him back to the pack. Projected to No. 1 in FedExCup points.
2. Patrick Reed – Shot an even-par 70 and is tied for 20th at 3 over. Suffered four bogeys on his back nine, but managed to salvage par with a birdie at the final hole. Projected to No. 3 in FedExCup points.
3. Adam Scott – Shot a 1-over 71 and is tied for 14th at 1 over. Suffered back-to-back double bogeys on the front nine, but was a bogey-free 1 under coming back. Projected to No. 4 in FedExCup points.
4. Jason Day – Withdrew during his second round with a score back. Projected to No. 7 in FedExCup points.
5. Paul Casey – Shot a 1-under 69 and is tied for seventh at 3 under. His putter is cold – he’s made just 3 of 14 putts from 10-20 feet this week. Projected to No. 4 in FedExCup points.
Here are the biggest movers in FedExCup point projections through the third round of the TOUR Championship:
Kevin Chappell – Moved up 13 spots in the projections, from 15 to second, after his bogey-free 68, and will go into Sunday as the 54-hole co-leader with Johnson. Chappell has made just one bogey in the first three rounds. “I’ve played some beautiful golf and I’ve eliminated some of the silly mistakes that tend to haunt me,” he said.
Jason Dufner – Moved up 12 spots in the projections, from 27 to 15 after his 4-under 66. He’ll enter Sunday in solo sixth at 4 under.
Charl Schwartzel – Moved up 11 spots in the projections, from 30 to 19, after his 4-under 66. Had consecutive eagles on hole Nos. 6 and 7 – the first time any player has done that in the TOUR Championship at East Lake. He’ll start Sunday tied for seventh.
THE LAST WORD
I’ve got a lot of confidence going into tomorrow, and I know I can get it done out here.
Dustin Johnson interview after Round 3 of TOUR Championship
Chappell joins DJ in the lead, back-to-back eagles at East Lake