After coming so close, Dustin Johnson got his hands on the Tour Championship and huge FedEx Cup playoff bonus. Steve Carroll wraps up all the tour action
Maybe it’s the trophy, more likely it’s the $15 million bonus, but Dustin Johnson said being FedEx Cup champion was something he wanted on his golfing resume. Now he’s got it.
The nearly man over the years grabbed the Tour Championship and the huge cash prize for winning the season-long FedEx struggle after tasting glory at East Lake.
It was a final day that had its moments – only a seven-footer for par at the 9th saving DJ from a third straight bogey. And, momentarily, the challengers seemed to be massing in behind.
Justin Thomas, FedEx Cup champion himself in 2017, reeled off five birdies in the first seven holes as he reduced gap to three going into the back 9.
And Xander Schauffele cut that lead to two with back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12.
But Johnson, probably as well known for faltering in big tournaments as for the mass of PGA Tour victories he has amassed during his superb career, held his nerve and drained a crucial par putt from 21 feet on the 13th to steady the ship.
Thomas and Schauffele continued to threaten down the stretch, but DJ had weathered the storm – a birdie at the last giving him a 21-under-par total and a three shot win.
Catlin edges war of attrition at Valderrama
Paul Waring summed it up best – tweeting a picture of a large pint with four words that probably encapsulated the feelings of most of the field who endured the Andalucia Masters.
“Thank god that’s over.”
Everyone knows how brutal Valderrama can be but the former Ryder Cup venue served up a special kind of pain for the European Tour’s finest in what became four rounds of survival of the fittest.
Wind was the main foe and Waring, who finished 14-over-par, was far from the only player to suffer.
Fittingly, the battle for the trophy came down to the last hole as American John Catlin and hero of Medinah Martin Kaymer went toe-to-toe on the final day.
Starting Sunday with a two-stroke advantage, Catlin didn’t have a single birdie in his 75 as the lead changed hands throughout.
But a series of superb par saves on the back nine kept his card intact. And when Kaymer was agonisingly short with a par chip on the final hole that would have got him into a playoff, Catlin had finally shaken off the two-time Major champion for his maiden European Tour victory.
He’s not just any old winner, either. He’s the only wire-to-wire Valderrama victor in the tour’s history.
And still there’s more. Here’s a sense of just how tough it was. The winning total of two-over-par hasn’t been seen this side of the pond for quite some time – as this startling tweet indicates…
Catlin, four times a winner on the Asian Tour, said: “That was one of my goals in 2019 when I earned my card, to win on the European Tour, and I wasn’t able to win in 2019 so it’s very nice to get it done this week and especially on a beautiful golf course, and very demanding one.
“The calibre of play out here is fantastic so to win out here is amazing. Just look at the names I was playing against this week. To have beaten them is something I’m very, very proud of.”