The most surreal season in the history of the PGA Tour will end Monday at East Lake after 12 months, one pandemic, 38 events, 11 official tournaments either postponed or cancelled, and an untold amount of uncertainty. The Tour, with one lap remaining, is leaning hard into chalk at the big finish.
For Monday’s final round at the Tour Championship, the leaderboard will be defined by Nos. 1 (Dustin Johnson), 2 (Jon Rahm), 3 (Justin Thomas) and 5 (Collin Morikawa) in the world rankings scattered between first and fifth on the leaderboard.
Dustin Johnson posted his best round of the season-ending Tour Championship on Sunday with a third-round 64 – five whole shots clear of the field as he competes for his first FedExCup championship. World number one Johnson has said the FedExCup championship is the missing piece of his resume, which includes 22 wins on the PGA Tour including the 2016 US Open.
He will be gunning to claim the US$15 million in prize money in Monday's finale.
Dustin Johnson in top form
Johnson, who has had the 54 hole lead in the last four tournaments he has played in, was the top seed going into East Lake and started 10-under with a two-shot lead due to the staggered scoring system.
After misfiring with the driver for most of Saturday, the overnight leader was much better on Sunday, hitting 11 of 14 fairways and is now 19-under for the tournament with Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas tied for second at 14-under.
World number two Jon Rahm is fourth at 13-under and PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa is fifth at 12-under. Unless Johnson reverts to the guy who managed to hit just 7 of his first 28 fairways this week, it won’t be the nail-biter officials hoped for in Year 2 of the strokes-based scoring experiment.
But if anyone was going to run away with the cup, it would be Dustin Johnson. “If he does what he normally does, it's going to be almost impossible to catch him,” said Xander Schauffele, who would be leading the event at 11 under, three shots ahead of Johnson, without the built-in, strokes-based cushion.
“It's DJ. We've seen him do it for 20 plus years now, and I just have to try and be better”. Beating Johnson in full flight under normal circumstances is a zero-sum proposition, particularly this version of DJ, but it has been done and anything is still possible.