Johnson polishes off a dominant victory
CARMEL, IND. >> Powerful off the tee and relentless with the putter, Dustin Johnson didn't give anyone much of a chance Sunday by closing with a 5-under 67 to win the BMW Championship by three shots and move to the top of the FedEx Cup.
Johnson won for the third time in his last eight tournaments dating to his first major at the U.S. Open, and this might have been his most complete performance.
"I've got a lot of confidence in every part of my game," Johnson said.
Paul Casey did just about everything he could, including two early birdies for two-shot swings that erased a four-shot deficit in two holes. Johnson answered with a pair of birdies and he was on his way. Casey made a 25-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole to get within one shot, but that lasted only as long as it took Johnson to make an 18-foot eagle putt on top of him to keep the margin at three shots.
Casey was runner-up in his second straight FedEx Cup playoff event, losing to Rory McIlroy a week ago. His consolation, along with $1,836,000 in those weeks, was the No. 5 seed at the Tour Championship in two weeks. That means he only has to win at East Lake to capture the $10 million bonus.
Rickie Fowler won't have any chance at all.
Fowler, who started the week at No. 22 in the FedEx Cup, closed with a 71 and finished 59th at Crooked Stick. He was bumped out of the top 10 by the smallest margin in the 10-year history of the FedEx Cup — 0.57 points behind Charl Schwartzel, who closed with a 64.
The timing is particularly bad for Fowler because Davis Love III makes three of his captain's picks for the Ryder Cup on Monday, with another one right after the Tour Championship. Fowler won't have another chance to audition, though he might get picked on Monday, anyway.
Asked if he had done enough to be picked, Fowler said, "I would like to think so."
"I've done basically everything I can do as far as schedule and playing," said Fowler, who left the Olympics to play the following week on the PGA Tour. "It would have been nice to play better to make the pick a lot easier on him. But whether he has his mind made up or is still thinking, that's up to him."
Fowler's hopes came down to J.B. Holmes in a finish that had nothing to do with the trophy. Fowler would have made it to the Tour Championship if Holmes made either a birdie or a bogey. Holmes would have been eliminated with a bogey.
He drilled it down the middle of the fairway, hit the green, lagged a 40-foot putt to 4 feet and made it for par for a 74.
"I envisioned it being a little bit better than that going into the day, but that's how it is," Holmes said. "You don't always have your best game, and I was able to finish it off and get in the Tour Championship.
Holmes tied for fourth, key for him because the big hitter from Kentucky also needs a captain's pick to play in the Ryder Cup. Holmes finished at No. 10 in the Ryder Cup standings, one spot ahead of Fowler.
"I feel like I played well enough to get that shot," Holmes said. "We'll see."
Roberto Castro holed out for eagle from the seventh fairway on his way to a 67 to finish alone in third, sending the Georgia Tech grad and Atlanta resident home to play in the Tour Championship for the second time.
All this activity was far more compelling than the actual tournament, for Johnson never looked as though he was going to lose — no matter how well Casey played. Johnson already has introduced a fade to his powerful driving. He dialed in his wedges earlier this year, and is now among the best. And he changed to a different putter this week to help him start the ball on line, and it worked magnificently.
Johnson is regarded as golf's greatest athlete, and to see every part of his game in order is a daunting sight. He played the par 5s in 15 under for the week.
Matt Kuchar closed with a 71 and tied for fourth, along with Ryan Palmer (70), Adam Scott (71), Schwartzel and Holmes. Palmer had a chance to get into the top 30 except for missing a 12-foot par putt on the 16th hole and a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole.
Fowler wasn't the only player to drop out of the top 30. Sergio Garcia shot 73 and dropped from No. 25 to No. 32. Henrik Stenson also fell out of the top 30. He was at No. 24 and chose not to play this week to rest his knee for the Ryder Cup.
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