Dustin Johnson heads to U.S. Open in style with FedEx St. Jude win

MEMPHIS, TN - JUNE 10: Dustin Johnson poses with the trophy after winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind on June 10, 2018 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
MEMPHIS, TN - JUNE 10: Dustin Johnson poses with the trophy after winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind on June 10, 2018 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR) /

Dustin Johnson holed out from the rough for eagle on the 72nd hole to seal a six-shot victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Dustin Johnson couldn’t have scripted a better send-off to the U.S. Open next week.

The 33-year-old Johnson holed out for eagle from the rough on the 72nd hole to win the FedEx St. Jude Classic by six shots over Andrew Putnam. He finished at 19-under to collect his 18th PGA Tour victory.

Johnson felt confident coming into the week that his game was where it needed to be to contend. He has had success at TPC Southwind before, winning this tournament in 2012. But even he couldn’t have predicted how he would finish.

“To finish the way I did was really cool, you know, to hole it out on the last hole,” he said after the tournament. “I knew coming into the week I was playing really well. It’s a golf course that I’ve had success at, so I liked my chances coming into the week.”

Johnson and Putnam came into the final round tied for the lead. Putnam struggled early with a double bogey on the first hole. Johnson, meanwhile, hit his approach into the 13th to within three feet and made the birdie.

He showed how he can overpower a golf course on the par-five 16th. Johnson sent his drive way left into the pine straw, but he managed to hit his second close to the green and got up-and-down for a birdie. Then came the dramatics at the 18th.

With the tournament all but wrapped up already, Johnson could have played it safe on that final hole. But he had a good lie in the right rough and the perfect club to hit the shot from 171 yards out.

“I had a four-shot lead, I think, going in to the last hole. My tee shot I was just trying to hit it down the right side, right where I hit it. And then on the second shot, I had a pretty good number, a nine-iron…It was the perfect club if it came out right. I hit it and it came out really well, and it was just tracking the whole way,” he said.

With the win, Johnson ties Tiger Woods for most victories on tour since 2008. He also joins an elite list of 30 players with at least 18 wins and a Major since World War II. 28 are in the World Golf Hall of Fame. The other two are Woods and Johnson.

Johnson also took over the No. 1 spot on the Official World Golf Rankings from Justin Thomas. He isn’t putting too much into going to Shinnecock Hills on Thursday as the top player, however.

“Winning this week is a bigger confidence booster than being No. 1 in the world,” he said. “Playing the way I did all week, playing the way I did today knowing everything that was on the line gives me a lot of confidence going into next week.”

Putnam was in a position to win for the first time on the PGA Tour. After his rough start, however, he acquitted himself well and didn’t make a bogey after the fifth. He feels that being in this position, tied for the lead on Sunday afternoon with one of the game’s great players, is a great experience that will help him in the future.

“I had a lot of fun. I feel like I handled myself better than my score looked,” he said. “And you know, I just didn’t have some putts go my way and the first couple holes were a little rough. But overall, I feel like I had a great time”

If Johnson is to contend at the U.S. Open next week, he is going to have to overcome history. No player has ever won the Open following a win the week before. But if anyone can do it, he feels he can.

“Why not? Why not be the first one to do it,” he said.

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