Dustin Johnson wins Tour Championship and $15 million FedEx Cup title
Dustin Johnson reacts to a long par putt at the 13th hole in the final round of the Tour Championship tha the won.
There would be no miracle shots or putts this time to deny Dustin Johnson. He simply wouldn’t let that happen with his own sublime play.
Starting Labor Day Monday with a commanding five-shot lead in the Tour Championship, the coolest guy in the game faced some back-nine pressure in the final round at East Lake in Atlanta. Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele both pressed the world’s No. 1 player by closing his lead to just two shots.
But Johnson responded as he’s done so many times in winning 22 previous PGA Tour events. After he drained a 21-foot putt to save par on the 13th hole, Johnson sauntered to four pars and a birdie the rest of the way to capture his first Tour Championship and the $15 million FedEx Cup Playoffs prize that goes with it. He is the first No. 1 seed going into the playoffs to capture the title since Tiger Woods in 2009.
The 36-year-old Johnson, who forged his big lead by tying the tournament-best score of 64 in the third round, closed with a two-under-par 68 and finished at 21 under to beat Thomas (66) and Schauffele (66) by three shots. Schauffele had a birdie putt on 18 that was worth $500,000 more to him if he finished alone in the No. 2 FedEx Cup spot, but he missed and shared second with Thomas. They each won $4.5 million.
In the PGA Tour's staggered-start format for the Tour Championship, Johnson started the event at 10 under—three shots ahead of Thomas and seven ahead of Schauffele.
"I wanted to be a FedEx Cup champion," Johnson said immediately afterward. "It's something in my career I'd like to be, and obviously today I got the FedEx Cup. Very proud of the way I played. I've played really good golf over the last four tournaments."
Johnson, who struggled for a couple of weeks with a back injury in July—including shooting back-to-back 80s at the Memorial—after he won the Travelers Championship, was the runaway star of the playoffs. After tying for second in the PGA Championship, he blew away the field by 11 shots, shooting 30 under in the first postseason event, The Northern Trust. He was in position to take last week’s BMW Championship, but Jon Rahm beat him by draining a 66-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole.
On Monday, Johnson didn’t make a birdie between the seventh and 17th holes—after he birdied three of the first six. He suffered back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 7 and 8. But from there he didn’t find much trouble, and when he was in the trees after his drive at 13 and couldn’t reach the green, he made the huge up-and-down for par.
Schauffele, who won the 2017 Tour Championship and has three career top-three finishes in the playoffs, applied some pressure when he made birdies at 12 and 16 to get to within two, but he pulled his last two tee shots left—into a fairway bunker at 17 and the rough at 18—to not have a realistic chance to make bifdie.
Thomas, who won the 2017 FedEx Cup championship and now has three top-three finishes in the playoffs in the last four years, birdied the 16th to get to within two. But he bogeyed the 17th before birdieing the 18th.