CARMEL, Ind. – Notes from the final round of the BMW Championship, where Dustin Johnson shot a final-round 67 to win by three shots and overtake the top spot in the FedExCup standings. Johnson has now won three times in 2015-16.
OPTIMISTIC FROM THE START
Dustin Johnson is optimistic entering each season.
“I always think every year’s going to be the best season,” he said Sunday after winning the BMW Championship.
This time, he was right.
Johnson’s win at the BMW Championship was his third of 2015-16. He’s won in all nine of his PGA TOUR seasons, but has won multiple titles in just two of them (2010, 2016). This is his first season with more than two victories.
He has a chance to add one more. Johnson will enter the season finale, The TOUR Championship, at No. 1 in the FedExCup. He can lock up the season-long race with a win at East Lake and he’s the current front-runner for the PGA TOUR’s Player of the Year award.
Johnson finished at 23-under 265 (67-63-68-67) to finish three shots ahead of Paul Casey, who was runner-up for the second consecutive event. Johnson’s second-round score set the competitive course record at Crooked Stick.
Much of his success this season can be attributed to his work last winter on his wedge play. He ranks fifth on TOUR this season in proximity to the hole from 50 to 125 yards (15 feet, 11 inches). A strong wedge game is a dangerous complement for his famously long tee shots.
He made 24 birdies and three eagles this week despite saying he struggled with his iron play. His wedges set up many of those birdies.
A new putter also helped. Johnson used a TaylorMade Spider for the first time this week after struggling to start his putts on the correct line over the past few tournaments.
Johnson also worked this offseason on hitting a fade with his driver, which allows him to have better control over that club.
His offseason improvements paid off with his first major victory, at the U.S. Open. His three-shot win at Oakmont was his first of the season, too.
“Finally getting my first major, that was a big deal and kind of kick-started my year,” said Johnson, who has 14 top-10s in 21 starts this season.
He won his following start, at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. The BMW Championship was his third win in his past eight starts.
“I enjoy being in the hunt and having to hit really good shots when you need to,” Johnson said. “I felt like the last few times I’ve been there I’ve hit some great golf shots to finish it off.”
Yes he has.
HEATING UP DOWN THE STRETCH
The postseason is all about playing right at the correct time, and Paul Casey has done that in the FedExCup Playoffs. The BMW Championship was his second consecutive runner-up finish. He now stands fifth in the standings and can clinch the FedExCup with a victory at the TOUR Championship.
Casey began the Playoffs at No. 68 in the standings. He moved to 10th after finishing second at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday and jumped another five spots Sunday.
Casey held the 54-hole lead at TPC Boston, but shot a final-round 73 and was passed by Rory McIlroy’s 65. Casey couldn’t catch Dustin Johnson at Crooked Stick. He trailed him by three shots after each of the BMW’s final three rounds. Casey’s 20-under 268 (67-66-68-67) matched McIlroy’s winning total from the 2012 BMW at Crooked Stick.
“It’s just wonderful to be playing this sort of golf. I played this sort of golf years ago,” said Casey, who ranked as high as No. 3 in the world in 2009. That was the same year he won his only PGA TOUR title (Shell Houston Open) and qualified for his first TOUR Championship. “I always felt that I could produce it again.”
Casey fell four shots behind after Johnson’s birdie at No. 1, but birdied the next two holes to tie the lead. Casey made eagle at the 15th hole, but Johnson matched him to maintain a three-shot lead with three holes remaining. They both parred the final three holes.
“I ran into a buzz saw with Dustin Johnson the last two days,” Casey said. “I did everything I could.”
Casey will be making his second consecutive TOUR Championship appearance and third of his career.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Roberto Castro's amazing eagle hole-out is the Shot of the Day
SHORT BY A HAIR
A single stroke kept Rickie Fowler out of the TOUR Championship.
He missed the season finale by 0.57 FedExCup points after finishing 59th out of the 69 players at the BMW Championship.
He was one of four players to fall out of the top 30 at the BMW Championship. That’s because four players cracked the top 30 on Sunday, tying the most in BMW Championship history.
The BMW’s final day had its usual drama as players vied for those precious spots at East Lake Golf Club.
Roberto Castro, Daniel Berger, J.B. Holmes and Charl Schwartzel all moved inside the top 30, displacing Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson.
Roberto Castro, who lives 15 minutes from East Lake, made the biggest move, leaping from 53rd to 21st thanks to his third-place finish. His final-round 67 included an eagle on the par-4 seventh hole, where he holed his 160-yard approach shot. Castro finished five shots clear of fourth place, easily qualifying for his second TOUR Championship (2013).
“I felt like I got off to a good start today and I kind of kept the pedal down all day,” Castro said.
Berger and Schwartzel both hit their tee shots to 3 feet at the par-3 17th to make birdie and earn their TOUR Championship spots. Those were two of the three birdies made on the hole Sunday.
Schwartzel’s 64 was the low round of the day by two shots. Holmes had to make a 3 1/2-foot par putt on 18 to qualify for East Lake.
Berger shot 69 on Sunday. He has cracked the top 30 at the BMW in each of his two PGA TOUR seasons. He finished second at last year’s BMW en route to winning Rookie of the Year honors. He began this week ranked 31st in the FedExCup.
“I think that was probably one of the best round of golf I’ve ever played, and I feel like I really hung in there,” said Berger, winner of this season’s FedEx St. Jude Classic. “I was looking at the FedExCup the entire week.”
Jhonattan Vegas hung onto the 29th spot in the standings despite a double bogey at the final hole. Ryan Palmer finished fourth, but missed a 12-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have qualified him for the TOUR Championship.
- Jason Day withdrew from the final round with a back injury. His agent, Bud Martin, said Day was suffering from a pinched joint capsule in his lower back, which was causing muscle spasms. Day fell from second to fourth in the FedExCup standings. “Instead of forcing it, we just decided that it was more prudent to come in, get it worked on and deal with it,” Martin said. He is hopeful that Day would compete in the TOUR Championship.
- Adam Scott has finished fourth in the first three events of this season’s FedExCup Playoffs after his T4 showing at the BMW Championship. Scott moved from fifth to third in the FedExCup standings. He finished third in strokes gained: off-the-tee this week and sixth in strokes gained: approach-the- green but was 40th in strokes gained: putting.
- Patrick Reed, who began the week as the FedExCup leader, finished 13th this week but fell to No. 2 in the standings after Johnson’s victory. Reed won The Barclays and finished fifth at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
- Kevin Na, who didn’t play last week’s Deutsche Bank Championship because of the birth of his first child, finished 20th this week to clinch a TOUR Championship spot. He moved up one spot from 23rd to 22nd in the standings. Henrik Stenson, who sat out the BMW because of a knee injury, fell from 24th to 36th in the standings. He is the 2013 FedExCup champion.
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
The best lake we'll see until East Lake. 😍 pic.twitter.com/Bo9rlCL2z8— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 12, 2016
Thrice is nice. 🏆🏆🏆— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 11, 2016
Must be the outfit. pic.twitter.com/bRwfuCU4bT
Wins by season for Dustin Johnson ...— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 11, 2016
2016: 🏆🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/GwBEplrkN1
Cuteness overload. 🏆 https://t.co/zH4HRQdYeR— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 11, 2016
Rickie on what will happen to the playoff mustache if he's out of the playoffs:— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 11, 2016
"I'll keep it in support of Justin." pic.twitter.com/WZ2nt8VhoB