The Punter's De-Brief: DJ crowned the FedEx Cup King

Golfer Dustin Johnson
FedEx Cup winner, Dustin Johnson
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3:30 min read

Dustin Johnson has won the FedEx Cup and John Catlin has dug deep for his first European Tour title. Steve Rawlings looks back at all the action here...

"Having won the Northern Trust, the first of the three, DJ was winning his second in the Series and he’s now the tenth man to win two Series events and he’s the seventh to do so in the last nine years."

After a sensational 64 in round three on Sunday, world number one, Dustin Johnson, entered the fourth and final round of the Tour Championship with a commanding five-stroke. It looked a done deal when he birdied three of the first six holes but both Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele clung to his coattails and when he bogeyed the seventh and eighth, it looked for a while that it may actually get quite interesting.

Thomas was matched at a low of [3.0] and Schauffele [4.4] but they never really quite looked like getting to DJ and the tide turned back into the pre-event [3.3] favourite's favour when he saved par at the 13th with this slightly fortunate putt that would have ran some way by had it not been bang on line.

After that pivotal moment, Johnson never looked like losing after and having comfortably parred the next four holes, he birdied the last to win his first FedEx Cup by three strokes.

Johnson now goes into next week's US Open with form figures reading 2-1-2-1 and as Justin Ray's tweet demonstrates perfectly, he's been utterly dominate throughout the Playoff Series.

It was impossible not to be impressed by Johnson's victory yesterday but at no point throughout the week did it ever feel like an exciting tournament. Fortunately, the European Tour action from Spain was a lot more entertaining...

California's John Catlin, playing in just his 32nd European Tour event (including co-sanctioned tournaments), was matched at between [190.0] and [330.0] before the start of the Andalucía Masters but he belied his odds from the get-go.

Having been tied for the lead after round one, playing in the final three-ball on Friday, he moved two clear late on in round two with birdies at 16 and 17 and he was never headed after that.

Catlin took a two-stroke lead into the final round and although he didn't make a single birdie all day, he was able to edge out Germany's Martin Kaymer by a stroke.

South African, Justin Harding, a pre-event [65.0] chance, was matched at a low of [3.4] after he drew alongside Catlin and Kaymer when he birdied the 17th but a disastrous double-bogey at 18 saw him slip back into a tie for third and it was left to the two main protagonists to continue their prolonged battle.

Kaymer, who was a pre-tournament [20.0] chance, was matched at just [1.26] when he gave himself this birdie opportunity at the par five 17th but it was advantage Catlin after the drives on 18.

Kaymer missed the fairway off the tee, found the greenside bunker in two and played a poor stroke from the sand to just off the back off the green. Catlin found the middle of the green with his approach and rolled his birdie attempt to within tap-in range. Having been a long odds-on shot for the title ten minutes or so earlier, Kaymer now needed to chip-in for par to extent the tournament and he very nearly managed it.

With a troublesome wind all week long, Valderrama played really tough and Catlin's +2 total was the highest winning score in relation to par since Padraig Harrington won the Open in +3 in 2008. And it was the highest in a non-major since Sandy Lyle won the now defunct Volvo Masters at Valderrama back in 1992.

My Bets

Pre-event [55.0] pick, Sami Valimaki, put himself into contention at Valderrama when he birdied the 13th hole in round four to get to +3. He was matched at a low of [6.8] but he fell off a cliff after that, dropping five strokes in his last five holes, but it was still a decent result as my only bet in-running was on Catlin at halfway at [7.8].

All gains in Spain were lost at the Tour Championship though so it wasn't a great week and with hindsight, the FedEx Cup decider looks like one to swerve going forward.

Will the FedEx Cup Playoffs Ever Work?

Well, another FedEx Cup Playoff concludes and it's been yet another unsatisfactory bore-fest. Having began as long ago as 2007, they've tweaked and tweaked the format but it still doesn't really work and I don't think it ever will.

We now have three events in three weeks instead of four over five weeks and the latest 'innovation' is the handicap system imposed on the final counting event - the Tour Championship, which was also first introduced last year and for me, that's one of the worst things they've done to the Series.

Xander Schauffele shot the lowest 72-hole total for the week last week and given he hasn't won anywhere in almost two years, he must be frustrated to have not won the tournament. He began the event on -3 compared to DJ's -10 so although he was eventually beaten by three strokes, he actually played the event in four strokes less than winner.

Don't Follow the Leader

Justin Thomas led the standings at the start of the Series but he's the latest on a long list to do so without winning it and only Tiger Woods in 2009 and Jordan Spieth in 2015 have gone on to take the Series having began it at the head of the standings.

Whether nerves can be blamed for that I don't know but one thing is clear, if you win one FedEx Playoff event, the chances are you're going to win another. Having won the Northern Trust, the first of the three, DJ was winning his second in the Series and he's now the tenth man to win two Series events and he's the seventh to do so in the last nine years.

That's more than enough looking back for now as we have a new PGA Tour season to look forward to - starting with the Safeway Open on Thursday. I'll be back later today with my preview and on the European Tour, we're off to the Algarve for the Portugal Masters, which I've already previewed here.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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