NORTON, Massachusetts – Dustin Johnson had just missed an uncomplicated six-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole of the Northern Trust golf tournament on Sunday, giving him a wasted an opportunity to extend his managerial lead in the final round of the event. Crossing a street to the 10th tee, he tripped and stumbled before getting back on his feet.
The proverbial bump in the road? Two hiccups that could derail or discourage the famously quiet Johnson?
No chance. Johnson hit an iron shot 267 yards in the center of the 10th fairway and made a comfortable par. Two holes later, he extended his lead to nine strokes over his closest competitor, Harris English. The defeat continued, interrupted only by a 75-minute thunderstorm delay, but eventually Johnson took his 22nd PGA Tour victory and took the lead after the opening event of the 2020 FedEx Cup playoffs.
Johnson & # 39; s last round 63 at the Northern Trust, combined with a career-low 60 on Friday and two other rounds in the 1960s, kept him 30 under par for the tournament. English, which shot 69 Sunday, came in second at 19 under par. It was Johnson & # 39; s second win since the PGA Tour resumed in mid-June after a three-month layoff due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the third time he had the Northern Trust won.
"My ball hit was incredible; I found something Wednesday," said Johnson. "I swung really well, but something clicked Wednesday."
Johnson started the day with a lead of five strokes and quickly made a statement to the rest of the field on the second hole when he rolled in a six-foot eagle putt. From there, Johnson only stepped on the gas, birdies in four of his next six holes. was an impressive piece, although nowhere near as striking as Friday's round when Johnson was 11 below par on his first 11 holes – a feat based on precise, powerful tee shots, nimble iron play and confident, accurate putting.
As the Englishman, who also had four rounds of the tournament in the 1960s, said of Johnson in a television interview during the rain delay: "Dustin didn't miss a shot and he putts very well. That's a tricky combination."
For Johnson, this month was a remarkable revival from a terrible July, when he shot 80 consecutive times at the Memorial Tournament and missed the cut. At his next tournament, he opened with a 78 and promptly retired. But the delay led to a turnaround in August, with Johnson recording 12 consecutive rounds in the 1960s, including on the P.G.A. Championship when he finished in tie for second place. With Sunday's win, Johnson also becomes No. 1 in the men's golf rankings as the PGA Tour nears the end of the shortened 2020 season.
"Obviously I've put myself in a really good position," Johnson said of the FedEx Cup playoffs, which he never won. "It's just something I'd really like to have on my resume when I'm done golfing. It's a big title. It means a lot to all the guys here."
About seven hours before Johnson was done , Tiger Woods, who barely made it through the second half of the tournament, completed a remarkable round. After two devastating rounds on Friday and Saturday, when he shot a combined two over par and fell out, Woods bounced back through his first four on Sunday. hole, he finished with a five-under-par 66 and finished six-under for the tournament.
Unfortunately for Woods, his rally may not be enough to warrant a bid for a third FedEx. Cup title alive. Woods will play in the BMW Championship at the Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois next week, but he needs a great performance to advance to the final round of the FedEx Cup playoffs. & # 39; finish Sunday left him on the 57th p last at the FedEx Cup booth. Only the top 30 golfers will qualify for the final event of the playoffs, the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, September 4-7.
Woods knew the math after his round on Sunday, and had one solution to get into the top 30: win the BMW Championship.
“I don't know what the number will be to go to East Lake, but a & # 39; W & # 39; Obviously gets it done, "he said.
Overall, Woods said he felt fit after the four rounds of the Northern Trust, which could possibly be the first of four tournaments he has played in five weeks. He said his surgically repaired back, which has been bothering him regularly this season, played no part in his game.
"My body feels pretty good," said Woods. "You know, this is going to be going on. Anyway, it will be a long journey. Hopefully I'll be in the Tour Championship and that will help me prepare for the US Open. ”
The United States Open is scheduled for September 17-20 at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY
Woods played on Sunday with Rory McIlroy, who also finished at the bottom of the standings. necessary, if unpopular, condition of the tour since resuming on June 11.
McIlroy, who had an uneven summer with six finishes outside the top 30 in his last seven events, said he lacks the energy and motivation that brought thousands of fans to tournaments. It's more than an absence of cheers: every tournament is the same without the quirks and eccentricities that bring fans from different regions to a sporting event.
"This will sound really bad, but I feel like I just went through the moves like the past few weeks," said McIlroy, who shot 69 on Sunday and completed 28 strokes behind Johnson. "I want an intensity and get some kind of fire, but I just couldn't. And see, that has partly to do with the atmosphere and partly with how I play. I don't inspire myself and I try to get inspiration from outside sources to get something going. "