The Punter's De-Brief: DJ cruises to facile FedEx feat

Golfer Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson with the Northern Trust trophy

Dustin Johnson has won the Northern Trust in a canter and Romain Langasque has pounced from off the pace in Wales. Steve Rawlings takes his customary look back at all the action here...

“It would be no surprise to see Johnson go in again at the BMW Championship this week. He won three-in-a-row back in 2017 before falling down the stairs on the eve of the US Masters and the FedEx Cup playoffs have a history of back-to-back winners.”

Having been beaten by two strokes by Collin Morikawa in the US PGA Championship in his penultimate start, having entered the final round with a one-stroke lead, Dustin Johnson could have been forgiven if he hadn't been quite on his game at the Northern Trust last week, the opening FedEx Cup playoff event of the three-tournament series, but is there anyone in world sport that shrugs off disappointment better than DJ?

A four-under-par 67 on Thursday saw him trail by three after the opening round but he soon took command on Friday, playing his first 11 holes in 11-under-par. He could only par his way in after that to record a second round 60 and Harris English made a fight of it on Saturday when he was matched at just 2.6413/8 as he drew alongside DJ with a birdie at the 14th. It wasn't a contest for long though - English bogeyed 16 and 17, failed to birdie the straightforward par five 18th, and Johnson finished his round by rolling in a birdie from 18 feet on 17 and eagle form 40 feet on 18.

DJ, who was matched at a high of 30.029/1, was generally a 25.024/1 chance before the off but with a commanding five-stroke lead, he entered Sunday's fourth and final round trading at 1.222/9 and once he'd rolled in his eight-footer for eagle at the second, the result was never in doubt. He went on to record an eight-under-par 63 on Sunday to reach 30-under-par for the week and to win by a staggering 11 strokes.

DJ's 187 (60-64-63) over the last three rounds is the lowest total score over 54 holes in PGA Tour history and as Justin Ray's tweet below demonstrates, that's the widest margin of victory on the PGA Tour in a very long while.

Phil Mickelson followed up his Bell South win with victory in the US Masters and it would be no surprise to see Johnson go in again at the BMW Championship this week. He won three-in-a-row back in 2017 before falling down the stairs on the eve of the US Masters and the FedEx Cup playoffs have a history of back-to-back winners.

Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Billy Horschel and Bryson DeChambeau have all won two on the trot and it's hard to envisage DJ trading much bigger than the 11.010/1 he trades at this morning to win the BMW Championship.

The Northern Trust may have turned into a cakewalk but the Wales Open was a much more thrilling affair...

Having led after rounds one and two, Connor Syme entered the fourth and final round tied for the lead with Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg and the pair were three clear of the field.

Syme was matched at a low of 2.01/1 and Soderberg 2.568/5 but the event was blown wide open when they both double-bogeyed the fifth hole. Finland's Sami Valimaki made a run at the title and was matched at just 2.6613/8 but it was pre-tournament 90.089/1 chance, Romain Langasque, who had been matched at a high of 170.0169/1 after a level par opening round on Thursday, that came through from off the pace to win by two over Valimaki with a sensational six-under-par 66.

Trailing by five, the 25 year-old Frenchman had been a 60.059/1 chance with a round to go but once he'd birdied both 15 and 16, he looked far and away the most likely victor although the margin of his win is perhaps a little misleading.

Soderberg was within one after he'd birdied the 14th and a birdie at the par five 18th would have seen him take the event into extra time but instead of setting up a birdie chance with his third shot, he found the water, and he went on to record a triple-bogey eight! That's a painful finish for the Swede but his tied fifth still resulted in a full place pay out at 100/1 for followers of Matt Cooper's column.

My Bets

It's been a week to forget for me. The Wales Open result was a poor one and as highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I layed Dustin Johnson in-running in the Northern Trust, so after a decent run, I've been brought back to earth with a bang.

In-Play pick, Valimaki, was as close as I came to a win in Wales but the fact that he traded so short was merely frustrating. I only had a very small wager on Saturday night so didn't lay anything back but if I'd have backed him before the off, I most certainly would have done.

I'd tried to back him all week but I missed the early triple-figure prices on Monday and he didn't drift out to anywhere near a big enough price for my liking after that so it was irritating to see him get involved.

With hindsight, not getting English in the book at less than 2/1 was a big mistake but prior to his finish on Saturday, he looked to be in more control of his game than DJ and I really thought I'd get a chance to tweak my book on Sunday before round four. English finishing 4-5-5 when he looked in complete control of his game and DJ finishing 3-3-3 after he'd looked to be just losing his touch slightly on the back-nine was just about as bad as round three could have ended. Oh well.

Was TPC Boston Too Easy?

Even if you've backed the runaway winner, any event in which someone goes clear of the field can be a little boring but I found last week's Northern Trust a bit of a dull affair all week.

In addition to DJ's brilliance, Scottie Scheffler fired in a 59 on Friday and I felt the course was just too easy for a FedEx Cup playoff event. It seems I wasn't alone.

The BMW Championship, the middle leg of the FedEx Cup Playoff series, starts on Thursday at Olympia Fields. Olympia Fields was the host venue for the 2003 US Open when only four players broke par so even if it's set up quite a bit easier then when Jim Furyk claimed his one and only major, we should, hopefully, get a better test than the one encountered at TPC Boston and I'll be back tomorrow with my preview.

The European Tour hops back to England and to the Belfry for the final leg of the UK Swing with what's highly likely to be the one and only edition of the UK Championship. I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my preview for that one.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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