Xander Schauffele fired the best score of the week in Atlanta
Xander Schauffele was three shots better than the field at the Tour Championship, but he insisted that Dustin Johnson was a deserving winner of the FedExCup.
Under the staggered-start format introduced for the PGA Tour season finale last year, Schauffele started the tournament seven shots behind Johnson on three under par, and although he fired the best score of the 30 competitors at East Lake, he had to settled for a share of second place with Justin Thomas.
Schauffele had to settle for a share of second, three behind Dustin Johnson
Schauffele was 15 under par for the 72 holes in Atlanta which would have earned him a three-shot win over Scottie Scheffler under normal scoring circumstances, with Johnson 11 under par for the week along with Thomas.
But Johnson’s head start proved crucial to the outcome as he capped a superb run of form in his last four starts, with two wins and two runner-up finishes, and Schauffele believes the world No 1 was a worthy winner of the $15m FedExCup jackpot.
Tour Championship: Non-handicap leaderboard
“DJ deserves to win,” said Schauffele after a closing 66 saw him finish on 18 under, three behind the champion. “He won the first one, tied first in the second, and I don’t know where he finished here, but he obviously is playing great golf, and I think that’s what the Play-Offs are all about.
Johnson bogeyed eight and nine and then holed from seven feet to scramble a par at nine before Schauffele pulled within two shots of the leader with back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th and, although he bogeyed the 13th, Johnson also looked certain to drop at least one shot until his bold 20-foot putt for par hit the back of the cup and dropped.
Schauffele described Johnson’s big par putt on 13 as a ‘pinnacle moment’
“He had two bogeys in a row there, and he made a really important par putt on nine, which isn’t surprising,” Schauffele added. “I just wasn’t able to put enough pressure on him. I birdied 11 and 12, and then I bogeyed 13 and then he parred.
“That was a big swing. He’s here to win the tournament. He made that putt, which I didn’t. That was a pinnacle moment I think.”
Thomas also paid tribute to the champion for working hard to overcome the putting problems he endured at The Memorial in July, when Johnson failed to break 80 twice just a three weeks after winning the Travelers Championship.
Justin Thomas played with a ‘lost’ Johnson at The Memorial
“The thing about DJ is you never know,” said Thomas, who matched Schauffele’s closing 66. “I give him hats off. I don’t know if he’ll talk about it, but I played with him at the Memorial and I’ve never seen him as lost, anywhere remotely close to that lost.
“He was grinding his ass off, and he was putting so bad and playing so bad. But he never gave up. He wasn’t quitting. He was just trying to find it out there and he couldn’t find it again the next week, and then next thing you know, what, two months later he’s the FedExCup champion and running away.
“I think that’s all you need to know about golf right there.”
PGA Tour Golf
September 8, 2020, 10:00am
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