Dustin Johnson issued a warning that he’s back to his pre-Masters best after taking down Jordan Spieth in a play-off to win the Northern Trust.
Heading into the final round of the first FedEx Cup event, Johnson was three behind 2017 Open champion Spieth, which opened up to five shots after just five holes.
However, by the tenth hole, Johnson had drawn level – helped in part to a Spieth double-bogey on the sixth – and it remained so right until the end of regulation play as Johnson made a 18ft par save.
In the play-off, Johnson crunched his drive to make birdie with Spieth unable to match it, giving the 33-year-old his fourth win of the season and first since the back injury which forced him to withdraw at Augusta.
“It was a big win for sure,” said Johnson, who extended his gap at the top of the world rankings. “Especially after the start I got off to this year and then, you know, having an injury there right before Augusta. It's been a tough road to get back to where I feel like my game's able to compete out here again.
“This week's the first week that I felt like my game was in really good shape and is back to where it was, where I feel like I've got complete control over it.”
Spieth, meanwhile, wasn’t too disheartened by surrendering a three-shot 54-hole lead and said he was simply beaten by the better player on the day.
“I didn't lose it tournament, he won it,” said the 24-year-old, who has leapfrogged Hideki Matsuyama to become world No.2. “I played well, my game feels good and I recognised a couple of tendencies that I got into my swing towards the end of the round that prevented me from hitting great iron shots like I did before, so I know what to work on.”
There was some disquiet on social media though from fellow pros at the choice of play-off hole, the 18th, which seemed to favour the big-hitting Johnson.
Ian Poulter tweeted:
Wesley Bryan said the choice of hole effectively made the play-off a ‘long drive contest’, while Luke Donald jokingly compared his length off the tee to that of Johnson.
Just seen Dustin's drive on 18 in the playoff, funnily enough that's the same line I tried a couple of times - didn't quite pan out #wet 🤣— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) August 27, 2017