By Sam McPherson
With a round of 63 in Friday’s second round, Dustin Johnson took control of the BMW Championship at the Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana. He then held on over the weekend with excellent driving and putting to win by three strokes over Paul Casey.
Johnson’s third win of the season, all in big events, puts him atop the FedExCup standings with just the Tour Championship remaining. In his masterful 23-under effort at Crooked Stick, he led the field in both driving distance (319.3 yards) and putting (1.519 strokes per hole). Through four rounds, Johnson didn’t shoot worse than 68 on the par-72 circuit.
Once seen as a player who couldn’t close, Johnson now has three huge wins on the PGA Tour this season: the U.S. Open, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and now the BMW Championship. With the victory, Johnson earns $1.53 million and leads the Tour with a total of over $9 million.
Casey put up a solid fight on Sunday, but the difference in the end was still Johnson’s Friday effort. The two golfers shot identical scores on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, but Casey’s Friday 66 wasn’t enough to keep pace with Johnson’s impressive weeklong dominance.
Roberto Castro finished third at 17-under, while five golfers tied for fourth place five strokes behind Castro. He jumps a whopping 32 places in the playoff standings. With FedExCup points more meaningful in the playoffs, the overall championship race now comes down to the top 30 golfers at the Tour Championship in two weeks.
On the other side of that coin, Rickie Fowler — ranked No. 9 in the world — finished 31st in the points race and will not move on. Fowler shot 1-over at the BMW event and finished 59th. World No. 1 Jason Day actually withdrew from the tournament on Sunday due to back problems, but he still holds the fourth spot in the FedExCup standings on the strength of three wins earlier this season.
Next On The Tee: Tour Championship
This is it for the final 30 players remaining after a grueling year-long PGA Tour schedule. And two Sundays from now, a Tour Champion will be crowned at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Jordan Spieth is both the defending champion of the event and the defending FedExCup winner. He currently stands seventh in the point standings, but doesn’t have a chance to repeat as the overall champion.
With 2,000 points going to the event’s winner, only five golfers can win the FedExCup now: Johnson, Day, Casey, Patrick Reed and Adam Scott. Reed won The Barclays, the first FedExCup event of the playoff season, and Scott’s season featured back-to-back wins at the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Championship. There is no cut at the TOUR Championship, so the competition will be dynamic all the way to the 72nd hole on Sunday.
The course itself is legendary for being the home circuit of Bobby Jones, the only golfer to win the mythical Grand Slam. He played his last competitive round there in 1948, but the course itself was first developed in 1906. Donald Ross has since re-designed it twice. Overall, East Lake has hosted the Tour Championship 15 times and the Ryder Cup once (1963).
The East Lake Golf Club course plays 7,374 yards long and is a par 72.
Favorites: Paul Casey, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson
Players to Watch: Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.