D. Johnson back on top; Spieth not concerned
August 27, 2017
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Dustin Johnson extended highlights | Round 4 | THE NORTHERN TRUST
OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. – News and notes from Sunday’s final round of THE NORTHERN TRUST, the opening event of the FedExCup Playoffs, where Dustin Johnson prevailed in a sudden-death playoff with Jordan Spieth. They finished regulation tied at 13-under 267, and Johnson made birdie on the first extra hole.
For more from Glen Oaks, click here.
For the latest on the FedExCup movement, click here.
JOHNSON BACK TO HIS BEST
What if Dustin Johnson never fell down those stairs?
You know the ones. Those few stairs at his Augusta rental home, the ones that jarred his back, threw out his rhythm and caused his season to enter a malaise.
Johnson had been victorious in three consecutive starts heading into the Masters: the Genesis Open and two World Golf Championships, the Mexico Championship and Dell Technologies Match Play. He was asked at the time if he felt unbeatable.
“If I'm playing my best, yeah, I'll play against anybody anytime,” he said.
And then the stairs.
He didn’t play at Augusta and missed the cut at the U.S. Open. He was a non-factor at the Open Championship (T54) and didn’t really threaten the leaders at the PGA Championship (T13).
He was being lost amongst the Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas hype as the FedExCup Playoffs began.
But no more.
“I feel about as good as I did before Augusta,” Johnson said after taking over the FedExCup lead with his fourth win of the season. “I'm definitely happy with the golf game right now. I was flying maybe a little bit under the radar, but I was struggling. I was struggling a little bit coming in here. I was working really hard on the game.”
Dustin Johnson's monster drive in sudden death at THE NORTHERN TRUST
VEGAS ALL BUT LOCKS UP LIBERTY
Jhonattan Vegas has made no secret of his desire to make the International Team for this year’s Presidents Cup at Liberty National in New Jersey. The Venezuelan all but locked up his place with another great display at THE NORTHERN TRUST.
A final-round 65 catapulted Vegas into a tie for third place at 9 under par. He’s projected to move past THE PLAYERS champion Si Woo Kim and into the eighth spot in the International Team standings. The top 10 players in the standings after the Dell Technologies Championship, which begins Friday, will qualify for the team.
It would take superhuman efforts from three players behind him on the standings next week to deny him his place, and even then, he’d still be a popular candidate for one of Nick Price’s two captains picks.
“Obviously a good round, under the circumstances,” Vegas beamed. “I needed to play well with everything on the line: with trying to make it to East Lake and trying to make the Presidents Cup.”
“I've said it all along, I really, really wanted to make the team.”
Vegas also jumped from 29th to 10th in the FedExCup standings after his stellar final round.
While Vegas all but clinched his spot on the International Team, there’s a tight race for the final spot on the U.S. Team.
Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell are separated by just 23 points entering the final week of their Presidents Cup candidacy.
Chappell had the edge after a third-round 64 at Glen Oaks, but Hoffman fought back Sunday with a 65 to climb up to T17.
While Chappell’s Sunday 70 left him in a tie for sixth, Hoffman still holds a slight advantage. Both Hoffman, 40, and Chappell, 31, are trying to qualify for their first Presidents Cup team.
The Dell Technologies Championship now becomes the last stand.
“I've told everybody that if I play good golf, I'll be on that team. I control my own destiny,” Hoffman said. “Obviously next week I'm going to a golf course I've won at. I have good feelings going into next week and hopefully I can hold onto that. If not, I'll hope for a Presidents Cup pick, but hopefully I'll make the team.”
Phil Mickelson, who is hopeful for one of those picks, did little to show U.S. Captain Steve Stricker that he is in top form. The veteran shot a dismal 75 on Sunday to drop to T54 for the week.
SPIETH NOT CONCERNED
Jordan Spieth says he won’t take scar tissue with him from the New York area after giving up a five-shot lead with 13 holes to play at THE NORTHERN TRUST.
The Texan had closed out nine of his 10 previous 54-hole leads, but he allowed Dustin Johnson to come from behind and beat him in a playoff after a costly double bogey on the par-3 sixth and a bogey on the par-4 ninth.
Spieth canned an 18-foot par putt on No. 17 to stay tied with Johnson before two-putting on 18 from off the green.
“I didn't lose the tournament. He won it,” Spieth said when asked if it might take a while to get over. “(I) played well. Game feels good. And I recognized a couple tendencies that I got into with my swing towards the end of the round that prevented me from hitting great iron shots like I did before, so I know what to work on.”
Spieth moved to second in the FedExCup standings as he strives to become the second player behind Tiger Woods to win the title twice.
CALL OF THE DAY
Bubble update after THE NORTHERN TRUST
DAY DIALING IN MENTAL GAME
Jason Day’s sixth-place finish moved him to No. 29 in the FedExCup standings. It’s the first time he’s been in the top 30 all season.
The 10-time PGA TOUR winner and former THE PLAYERS champion was left to lament a few stretches of bad holes at THE NORTHERN TRUST, particularly a front-nine 40 on Friday.
He now heads to TPC Boston where he has six top-15 finishes in nine tries including a T2, T3 and T7. The third event of the FedExCup Playoffs, the BMW Championship, is at Conway Farms, where Day won in 2015.
“Knowing that I've got some momentum going into those two weeks, it’s huge,” Day said. “I'm much more mentally sharp right now than I have been all year, which is great, even though I am making silly errors. I'm over the ball and I'm actually looking at the target and hitting the shot that I want to hit, rather than just looking at the target and kind of seeing nothing.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Defending FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy battled his way to a T34 finish, some 15 shots outside the playoff between Johnson and Spieth. “My game isn't where it needs to be. But it's okay,” McIlroy said. “Conditions were tricky out there. My battling qualities, that's all I really have right now. Sort of a little inconsistent with my swing and sort of with everything else. It’s just a matter of trying to go out there and put the best possible rounds together and see where that leaves me.”
Luke List recorded two eagles in a round for the third time this season, making 3s at the par-5 third and 13th holes. List also made two eagles in a round at the FedEx St. Jude Classic (third round) and the John Deere Classic (first round). List entered the week tied with Tony Finau for most eagles this season (14), and now heads the list with 16.
Daniel Berger was the only player to birdie the 516-yard par-4 opening hole in the final round, holing a putt after a 210-yard approach to six feet.
After injuring his right knee when he slipped while hitting a shot on the final hole of the third round, Lucas Glover, who entered the week No. 55 in the FedExCup, received treatment from the on-site Player Performance Center to return on Sunday and shoot a final-round 71. He sits No. 57 in the FedExCup heading to the Dell Technologies Championship.
Jon Rahm had a sterling debut in the FedExCup Playoffs. He finished T3 at THE NORTHERN TRUST to move from No. 6 to No. 5 in the standings.
Paul Casey’s solo-fifth finish marked his eighth top-10 result in his 16th FedExCup Playoffs event and his fifth top-five in his past six Playoffs event (5th/2017 THE NORTHERN TRUST, 4th/2016 TOUR Championship, 2nd/2016 BMW Championship, 2nd/2016 Dell Technologies Championship, T31/2016 THE NORTHERN TRUST, T5/2015 TOUR Championship).
Webb Simpson hit 14 of 18 greens, his best effort in that category this week, to produce a 5-under 65 in the final-round. Simpson’s T6 marked his third top-10 result in nine appearances at THE NORTHERN TRUST, and his second-consecutive on TOUR following a third-place finish at the Wyndham Championship last week. The last time Simpson posted top-10 results in consecutive starts was in 2013-14 when he had four-in-a-row (2013 TOUR Championship/4th, 2013 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open/1, 2013 The RSM Classic/T7, 2014 Sentry Tournament of Champions/T3).
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Respect. pic.twitter.com/ksNxIc65EW— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 28, 2017
(•_•)— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 27, 2017
<) )\ Spieth!
( (> DJ!
<) )> Playoff!