OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – As it turned out, Dustin Johnson hit only the second most memorable putt of the BMW Championship.
Johnson’s 43-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation, a downhill, curling effort that slammed off the stick and dropped to force a playoff, elicited a fist pump from the normally stoic world No. 1. But it ultimately only bought him a brief extension, as Johnson was unable to answer Jon Rahm’s birdie on the first playoff hole.
The sudden turn of events left Johnson to stomach a runner-up finish, but the sting didn’t last very long.
“I mean, I was just laughing, kind of,” Johnson said. “I was kind of laughing at my putt (in regulation), too, because it was one of those where you, you’re not really thinking you’re going to make it. But I gave it a good roll, and obviously did make it. Yeah, he came right back and made one on top of me in the playoff.”
The result means that Johnson has now been beaten by exactly two players over his last three starts: Rahm at Olympia Fields and Collin Morikawa at the PGA Championship, sandwiched around an 11-shot romp last week at The Northern Trust. Johnson started the final round in a share of the lead and built a three-shot advantage with birdies over three of his first four holes, only to give back shots at Nos. 8 and 10 to bring Rahm and others back into the mix.
While he missed a chance to lift his second trophy in as many weeks, the runner-up finish didn’t impact Johnson’s starting position for next week’s Tour Championship. He’ll still be in the coveted No. 1 slot, starting Friday’s final round at 10 under and equipped with a two-shot lead over Rahm, his closest competitor, and at least six clear of all but three of the other 28 participants.
“Obviously the goal was to be No. 1 going into East Lake, and I am still No. 1,” Johnson said. “I mean, I like my position. I feel like the game is in really good form right now. I’m really, really pleased with all aspects of the game and I’m really looking forward to next week and a chance to win the FedExCup.”