Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dustin Johnson rallies to beat Jordan Spieth in playoff at Northern Trust

Dustin Johnson is all pumped up after sinking an 18-foot par putt on the final hole in regulation, forcing a playoff.

Getty Images

Dustin Johnson is all pumped up after sinking an 18-foot par putt on the final hole in regulation, forcing a playoff.

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — In a FedEx Cup playoff opener that felt like a heavyweight bout, Dustin Johnson delivered back-to-back blows to beat Jordan Spieth in the Northern Trust.

One was a putt from 18 feet.

The other was a drive that traveled 341 yards.

Down to his last shot, Johnson watched his 18-foot par putt stay on the high side of the hole and thought it surely would miss. He took two steps of hope to the right, then pumped his fist in a rare show of emotion from the reserved player when it swirled around and dropped in the cup for 4-under 66 to force a playoff.

Given new life, the 33-year-old relied on his strength and powered a drive over the lake to the far edge of the fairway on the 475-yard par 4. It was the longest drive all week on No. 18, and it left him a 60-degree wedge that he nailed to within 4 feet for birdie and a victory he badly needed.

The top-ranked player in golf finally looked the part again.

"It was fun to be in the hunt again and know that my game is going to hold up under pressure," Johnson said.

Spieth lost for the first time in six tries when leading by at least two, and there wasn't much the No. 2-ranked player could do except take back the tee shot into the water on the par-3 sixth after having a five-shot lead. Johnson played bogey-free over the final 29 holes.

"I didn't lose the tournament," Spieth said after closing with 69. "He won it."

It was great theater between the two friends. "I thought that was a fun show," Spieth said. "I was hoping it wasn't going to be that much fun."

Johnson made up a five-shot deficit in five holes, and they battled along the back nine with big shots and big moments.

They were tied on the par-3 17th when both hit into a bunker, and Johnson blasted out to 4 feet with an easier shot and angle to the hole. Spieth had 18 feet for par and knocked it in, like the 24-year-old always seems to do.

On the closing hole of regulation, after Johnson sliced his drive up the hill and into a nasty lie in the rough, he chose to lay up instead of trying to hammer a shot to an elevated green. He made it pay off with par, making the playoff after Spieth lagged a 75-foot putt perfectly for par.

They finished at 13-under 267.

Johnson was angry with himself after his tee shot in regulation for not taking it over the water, even with a light wind in his face.

"Right after I hit my drive, I was like, 'What am I doing?' " Johnson said. He told his caddie, brother Austin Johnson, that if they got into a playoff, he wouldn't make the same mistake twice.

Johnson won for the first time since he wrenched his back after a fall that knocked him out of the Masters and derailed his dominance. He had won three straight until that injury. "I feel like the game is finally back in form like it was before the Masters," he said.

Of his 16 victories, this was the first time Johnson faced a must-make putt on the final hole.

The top 100 advanced to the FedEx Cup's next playoff round at TPC Boston this week.

LPGA: Sung Hyun Park added the Canadian Pacific Women's Open title to her U.S. Open crown with a comeback victory in Ottawa. She birdied the final hole for 7-under 64 and a two-stroke win over Mirim Lee (68). Four strokes behind entering the round, Park finished at 13-under 271. "I think it was a perfect game (Sunday)," she said. Nicole Broch Larsen, a co-leader entering the day, had 70 to tie for third at 10 under with Cristie Kerr (69), In Gee Chun (70), Shanshan Feng (68) and Marina Alex (68).

CHAMPIONS: Jerry Kelly won the Boeing Classic for his first tour title, closing with 6-under 66 and a one-shot advantage over Jerry Smith (64) in Snoqualmie, Wash. Kelly shot a tournament-record 19-under 197.

WIE HAS APPENDECTOMY: Michelle Wie was set to have surgery to remove her appendix. Wie withdrew before the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women's Open and was taken to Ottawa Hospital for surgery.

Dustin Johnson rallies to beat Jordan Spieth in playoff at Northern Trust 08/27/17 [Last modified: Sunday, August 27, 2017 9:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: DE Will Gholston likely to return from neck injury

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Bucs DE Will Gholston is expected to make a healthy return Sunday in Atlanta after missing two games with a neck injury, and he's thankful and relieved not to have to deal with anything more severe.

    Bucs defensive end William Gholston is expected to play Sunday after missing two games with a scary neck injury.
  2. Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

    College

    PITTSBURGH — Miami's perfect season is over. The Hurricanes can only hope their shot at a spot in the College Football Playoff isn't gone too.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 24:  Dewayne Hendrix #8 of the Pittsburgh Panthers celebrates his sack in the first half against the Miami Hurricanes on November 24, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Eye on Julio Jones, new stadium

    Bucs

    Times Bucs writer Greg Auman is back for one more Bucs-Falcons preview podcast, looking at Julio Jones' rank among the all-time Bucs' opponents, the new stadium in Atlanta, our story on game balls and much more. Listen below:

    SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 20: Wide receiver Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons brings in a 29 yard pass against cornerback Jeremy Lane #20 of the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter of the game at CenturyLink Field on November 20, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  The Atlanta Falcons beat the Seattle Seahawks, 34-31. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr /Getty Images)
  4. Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday's 1 p.m. game

    Bucs

    The Bucs face the defending NFC champion in its new home Sunday in Atlanta.

    The Bucs face Matt Ryan (2) and the Atlanta Falcons for the first time this season in a 1 p.m. game Sunday in Atlanta. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times

  5. Florida-Florida State: What's really riding on Saturday's game

    College

    GAINESVILLE — If misery loves company, at least the Gators and Seminoles have each other.

    Florida Gators running back Kelvin Taylor (21) runs the ball after a hand off from Florida Gators quarterback Treon Harris (3) during the third quarter of the football game between the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida on Saturday, November 28, 2015. The Florida Gators lost to the Florida State Seminoles 27-2. EVE EDELHEIT   I   Times