Zach Johnson rallies to win BMW Championship
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The last time we saw Zach Johnson, he was confronting a spectator in the bleachers behind the 18th green after missing a 10-foot putt at the end of his third round Saturday.
What set him off?
This brilliant remark:
"Hey Zach, you (stink)!"
Well, sir, that could not be more incorrect, and Johnson proved it Monday in the final round of the rain-delayed BMW Championship at Conway Farms in Lake Forest.
While those ahead of him — mainly the top pairing of Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker — were faltering, Johnson, who began the day 3 shots off the lead, simply tore up a rain-softened course to the tune of 6-under 65, good for a two-shot victory over a charging Nick Watney (64).
"A great week, a phenomenal day, one of the best final rounds I probably have come up with in a while, especially coming down the stretch," said Johnson, whose 10th victory in 10 seasons secured him an all-important top 5 spot in the FedEx Cup points heading into next week's playoff finale — the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
This coming after he entered the BMW 27th on the points list.
"I didn't know I climbed into the top 5 until I got done," he admitted. "I've got a great opportunity, that's the way I look at it."
In a week of great storylines, from Furyk's 59, to the continued resurgence of Stricker, to Tiger Woods' 2-stroke penalty to Hunter Mahan's hole-in-one, the one guy who was consistently overlooked all week was Johnson, and in hindsight that was a big mistake, considering he came into the week with top 10 finishes in five of his six previous events.
"You know, I got asked the question, 'does this validate what I've done over the last three months?' I don't think so," Johnson said. "It just means I'm playing well and I made more putts this week. That's really what it boils down to."
Johnson finished at 268 for the week, 16-under par for the tournament. In all, 38 pro finished under par for the week.
The spotlight group of the day — Furyk and Stricker — hung tough for a while, but the back nine proved the downfall for both of them. Furyk recorded 3 bogeys on the final nine to slip back a bit, and Stricker's water ball on the 11th all but ended his chances.
"I hit some good (putts) that didn't go in and hit a couple of bad ones too," Furyk said. "I don't know if I used them all up Friday or not, but Strick and I had a hard time getting it going on the greens today.
"I'll be disappointed that I didn't win, but I've got some positives. I'm playing really well and on a golf course I like next week in Atlanta. A win there could do some damage."
For Stricker, a 7-iron off the tee that found the water on No. 11 proved the difference Monday.
"I thought I hit it perfect, but it just came up short," said Stricker who is sixth on the points list. "I'm right in there every week, that's the positive thing."
Furyk's even par 71 left him alone in third place, while Stricker finished with a 72 and tied for fourth with Luke Donald, Jason Day and Hunter Mahan.
The round of the day was Watney's 64, and man did he need it after entering the final round on the outside the top 30 (he was 34th) but now he will head to Atlanta 12th on the points list.
"I figured I had maybe an outside shot, but there are so many good players ahead of me that I knew I needed something special," he said. "I did everything pretty well today. I drove it in a lot of fairways and putted really, really well."
Still, the story of the day was Johnson, who now joins Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar in the top 5 in points heading to Atlanta. Those five control their own destiny, meaning if any one of them wins, the championship and the $10 million bonus is all theirs.
"Dangit, I forgot about that one," Johnson said, when reminded about the huge money at stake. "No, I'm not going to try to win that $10 million. I'm going to try to play good rounds of golf Thursday through Sunday.
"It's not like you have to win every week to win that FedEx Cup — you've just got to win at the right times or play well at the right times ... and I like the momentum I have."
So, in summation: courtesy of his win Monday, Johnson now has a chance to win the playoffs and the $10 million first prize.
That certainly doesn't stink.
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