Dustin Johnson has his game right where he wants it. He feels he’s playing like a No. 1 golfer should and is on his way to winning the FedEx Cup.
He has held the 54-hole lead in the last four tournaments he’s played, the PGA Championship and the three FedEx Cup Playoffs. If he can capitalize on his current 5-stroke advantage and win the Tour Championship tomorrow, he will check another goal off his list: Winning the FedEx Cup.
DJ won the Vardon Trophy for low scoring average twice, in 2016 and 2018. He was leading money winner on the PGA Tour in 2016. He’s been both PGA of America and PGA Tour Player of the Year. He’s been on Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams.
He even won a U.S. Open on one of the toughest courses anywhere, with a crazy ruling in the last round that would have unsettled a lesser player. His 22 victories and U.S. Open trophy probably qualify him for the World Golf Hall of Fame when he’s a little older.
His victory total also means he’s has a lifetime exemption to any regular PGA Tour event for the rest of his life. If he wants to tee it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach tournament when he’s 60, he can.
The FedEx Cup title, however, is one that has eluded him.
Now, he’s in a great position to capitalize on his 5-stroke, third round lead at the Tour Championship to bring the next big one home. It is likely that the only person who can stop him from winning the FedEx Cup at this point is DJ himself.
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“I just need to go out and focus on what I’m doing and try and shoot the lowest score I can,” he said to media after the third round of the Tour Championship.
He has a particularly good chance now that he made an adjustment to his set-up after a second round where he had real difficulty hitting fairways.
“I felt like I was swinging well. It was just a little bit off,” he explained. “What was happening is I was just hitting the driver a little bit towards the toe, and obviously when you hit it off the toe it does not like to cut.”
Since Johnson decided to hit a cut as his primary shot, his results have improved dramatically. It is now his preferred shot. When it’s not working, he has problems.
The only potential impediments in Johnson’s way are a handful of players that are five and six shots behind him. They all have great respect for him but know anything can happen on a golf course.
“If he does what he normally does, it’s going to be almost impossible to catch him,” Xander Schauffele said after his third round. “I can try and influence him, which he probably won’t really care about. If I birdie the first three holes it’s not going to faze him.”
“DJ is clearly playing well,” Justin Thomas noted. “But anything can happen around this course. You can shoot 63 or 64 and you can shoot 73 or 74 very easily. I just need to hope that tomorrow is my 63 or 64.”
“Even though DJ started at 10, it’s not like it was a given that he was going to win,” Collin Morikawa said after a round of 67. “But he’s obviously been playing some pretty good golf, and like I said, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Perhaps Jon Rahm summed it up best.
“I’m going to need to shoot 5-, 6-under and hope for him to not have a good day. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
Brutal, but true. They know with Johnson’s lead, it’s going to be hard to separate Dustin Johnson from the Tour Championship title and the FedEx Cup trophy.