Dustin Johnson finally got his hands on the FedExCup after surviving a nervy final round to wrap up a three-shot victory at the Tour Championship.
The final day of the severely-disrupted PGA Tour season was not the Johnson procession that many had predicted, his overnight five-shot lead being trimmed to two strokes coming down the stretch at East Lake in Atlanta.
But the world No 1 held his nerve when it mattered most and holed some crucial par-saving putts on the back nine, including one from outside 20 feet on the 13th which seemed to galvanise the American, who has endured a number of near-misses when in contention for one of the richest prizes in sport.
Johnson went into the final round with the lead for the fourth tournament in succession, and there was no hint of nerves early on as he rattled in a 20-footer for birdie at the third and picked up further shots at five and six to keep his closest rivals, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele, a comfortable distance behind him.
However, Johnson faltered at the seventh after a blocked drive left him unable to go at the green with his second, he missed a six-foot putt for par at the next and he needed a good stroke from similar range on the ninth to avoid a third straight bogey.
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Playing-partner Schauffele ramped up the pressure with birdies at the 11th and 12th which lifted him to 18 under and just two behind Johnson, with both finding trouble off the tee at the next and having their work cut out to avoid bogeys as neither could hit the green in regulation.
Schauffele dropped his first shot of the day, and Johnson looked set to do likewise when his fluffed chip just crept onto the putting surface, but his bold par putt hit the back of the hole and dropped to restore his three-shot advantage.
Both traded pars at the dangerous 14th and 15th holes, while Thomas, who had five birdies on the outward half bu also two bogeys, crept back into contention with a birdie at 16, only for the 2017 FedExCup champion to carve his drive right of the fairway at the penultimate hole as he dropped back to 17 under.
Schauffele revived his hopes when he holed from outside 20 feet for birdie at the 16th as Johnson recovered from driving into a fairway bunker to make a safe par, and his task was made a little easier when Schauffele found sand from the tee at 17 and could not reach the green from the trap.
He did well to pitch and putt to save par as Johnson settled for a conventional four, and the extra bounce in Johnson’s step was evident on the final fairway after he launched a 337-yard drive straight down the middle when many in his position would have played the 580-yard par-five as a three-shot hole.
Schauffele had to lay up after tugging his drive into an awful lie in the rough, and the game was up as Johnson had the luxury of coming up a little short with his second and finding the front bunker, before Schauffele pitched to 13 feet to give himself a great chance of snatching outright second.
He couldn’t take it, and settled for a 66 and a share of second with Thomas, who had earlier closed out his adventurous 66 with his seventh birdie of the round, and the stage was clear for Johnson to close out the season in style, splashing out to five feet and converting the birdie putt for a 68 and a winning score of 21 under – having started the week at 10 under.
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