Dustin Johnson’s move to the top of the FedEx Cup playoff standings was in a word, surprising. The long hitting Johnson came into the 2011 season with all the promise a player could have. Just a year before he almost captured two majors or maybe we should say, should have captured two majors before mental mistakes cost him the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
Johnson’s major season in 2011 was again devoid of a victory when he had a chance at the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. He again made a mistake hitting a ball out of bounds with an iron in his hand to a very reachable par five.
So instead of one victory in a major, Johnson went winless on the PGA Tour until The Barclays as he won going away in an Hurricane Irene shortened 54-hole event.
“I felt like I played some really good golf this year,” Johnson said, of his winless season. “Just have not been able to quite get it done. And it wasn’t that my golf game was bad; it’s just the putts that I needed to make, I have not been able to make them and this week I felt like I didn’t do anything crazy with the putter. I just made the ones I was supposed to.”
On the front nine at Plainfield Country Club, Johnson shot 29, 29 and 30 for the three rounds at the The Barclays. While those stats are kept it is to go out on a limb and say those are the best consecutive scores on a nine in PGA Tour history.
So now Johnson jumps 18 spots in the FedEx Cup standings to leader of the FedEx Cup playoffs with three events remaining.
Next up Deutsche Bank Championship where Johnson has a T4 in 2009 and T57 last year.
Expect the conditions to be soft with possible ball in hand as it was in New Jersey and also expect Johnson to take full advantage again, be it in a 72-hole event this time.
If Johnson wins or loses this week he has the comfort in knowing that he will then return to Cog Hill in two weeks where he will be defending the BMW Championship outside of Chicago.
While it’s too early to pick a winner, Johnson’s victory at The Barclays makes him the favorite to hoist the FedEx Cup in Atlanta and walk away with a $10 million check.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.