Johnson overtakes Kuchar to win Barclays PGA title
Edison, New Jersey: Dustin Johnson fired a six-under par 65 on Saturday to win The Barclays by two strokes over fellow American Matt Kuchar in an event reduced to 54 holes due to an approaching hurricane.
The $7.5 million tournament, the first of the US PGA season-ending playoffs, would have reverted to 36-hole scores had bad weather from oncoming Hurricane Irene prevented the third round at Plainfield Country Club from being finished.
But Johnson, who parred every hole on the back nine after making his move early, was able to complete 54 holes on 19-under 194, two ahead of 36-hole leader Kuchar, who fired a 68 on Saturday alongside Johnson in the last group.
"We got lucky," Johnson said. "The weather held up for us long enough."
Johnson took the $1.44 million winner`s prize from his fifth career triumph and rose to fourth in the world rankings as well as first in the US PGA playoff points chase for a top prize of $10 million.
He became the first player since Tiger Woods to win at least one title in each of his first four PGA campaigns, ending a win drought of almost 12 months.
"I feel like I`ve played pretty well all year but just haven`t quite been able to get that win," Johnson said. "The putter has been lacking a little bit. This week I finally rolled some putts, so this feels really good."
Johnson opened with back-to-back birdies, took his only bogey at the par-3 third, but answered with an eagle from a bunker at the par-4 fourth and birdied at the par-5 fifth. He sank a 25-foot birdie at the par-4 seventh and birdied from half that distance at the ninth before parring his way to victory.
"It was the first time I had been in a bunker all week," Johnson said of his eagle blast. "My bunker game this year has not been superb but I was 1-for-1 out of the bunkers. It wasn`t an easy bunker shot. I hit a pretty good follow through and just came out just right and went in the hole."
Kuchar opened with a par, birided the odd-numbered holes through the 11th to keep pace, but bogeys at the par-5 12th and par-4 13th dropped him behind to stay, going past the hole on two birdie bids and missing his par attempts.
"Sunday tendencies are to come up a little short, and I gave it a little extra," Kuchar said. "(It was) very frustrating because I feel like that`s the strong part of my game."
Fiji`s Vijay Singh and American Brandt Snedeker, who fired a final-round 61, shared third on 197 with American Jonathan Byrd another stroke adrift in fifth.
Sharing sixth on 199 were England`s Brian Davis and Justin Rose, Colombia`s Camilo Villegas and South Korean Yang Yong-Eun.
England`s Ian Poulter birdied four of his last five holes to shoot a 64 and advance to next week`s 100-man playoff event near Boston.
South African star Ernie Els, who would have been eliminated from the playoff hunt had scores reverted to 36 holes, fired a 67 to jump from 118th in the points chase to 99th, booking himself a place in next week`s event.
"You`re trying to survive," Els said. "It`s desperation. It`s sadistic. In a way it`s fun, if you`re into that."