• The final 30: Playoff tension fills air at Cog Hill
LEMONT, Ill. (USA) – It’s been a tough summer for Dustin Johnson. Luckily, fall is right around the corner.
After enduring the heartbreak of this year’s U.S. Open and PGA Championship, Johnson could finally smile after a Sunday round.
Johnson shot 69 Sunday to win the BMW Championship at Cog Hill by one shot over England’s Paul Casey. Now, Johnson controls his own destiny for the FedEx Cup title. Courtesy of his second-place points standing, Johnson can win the Tour Championship in two weeks and take home the crown and the $10 million bonus.
His bunker blunder at Whistling Straits seems like a long time ago.
It was the second victory this year for the Ryder Cupper, who has emerged as one of game’s rising stars. Sunday’s victory will help ease the sting of chances he lost in three other tournaments, two of them majors.
He blew a three-shot lead in the U.S. Open with a final-round 82. He made up a three-shot deficit at the PGA Championship, only to lose a one-shot lead on the final hole when he unknowingly grounded a club in a bunker and was struck with a two-shot penalty.
But this Sunday was different.
With Casey in at 8 under after a par on the final hole, Johnson, 26, stuck his wedge shot within a couple of feet of the 17th hole to set up his go-ahead birdie. His two-putt for par on 18 clinched his fourth victory on tour and first since the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February.
“I know I’ve had some failures — I don’t know if I’d call them failures — I’ve had a few mishaps,” Johnson said. “To come back and get it done, I’m very proud of myself. I think I’ve handled everything very well, and now I’ve got to look forward to two weeks from now.”
One player whom Johnson won’t have to beat at East Lake is Tiger Woods. The world’s No. 1 player sputtered at the start and shot 70 to tie for 15th, not nearly enough to move into the top 30 in the standings and advance to the FedEx Cup finale.
It’s the first time as a pro that Woods hasn’t been eligible for a tournament.
“That’s just the way it is,’’ Woods said. “I didn’t play well early in the year, and I didn’t play well in the middle of the year.’’
His next event will be the Ryder Cup in two weeks, and he won’t be the only Ryder Cup player with two weeks off.
Woods and two other Ryder Cup picks, Stewart Cink and Rickie Fowler, also failed to qualify for the Tour Championship.
Woods played with Phil Mickelson for the first time all year, and Lefty buried him. Mickelson closed with a 67 and tied for eighth, his first top 10 since the U.S. Open.
It was the 26th time the world’s best two players have been in the same group, and the record now stands at 11-11-4.
Casey was left off the Ryder Cup team despite being No. 9 in the world when European captain Colin Montgomerie made his three picks. Casey had a great chance to make Montgomerie look foolish, building a three-shot lead on the back nine, only to throw it away with three straight bogeys. Casey had three chances from the fairway coming in but didn’t give himself a birdie opportunity inside 25 feet.
With the 70-man field at Cog Hill narrowed to the final 30, the BMW Championship offered plenty of drama away from the leaders, and Matt Kuchar had the greatest influence.
Kuchar tied for third and will be the No. 1 seed in two weeks at East Lake. He was at 7 under and needed a birdie for any hope of getting into a sudden-death playoff, but he ran his birdie putt about 3 feet past the hole.
He missed that putt, which dropped him from a two-way tie for third into a three-way tie for fourth. That allowed K.J. Choi, who tied for fourth, to get into the top 30, knocking out Bill Haas.
Ryan Moore, the 54-hole leader, was alone in third place when he sent his second shot over the 18th green. He smartly played away from the pin to avoid chipping into the water and took his bogey, which kept him in the top 30. If Moore had made double bogey, he would have fallen out of the Tour Championship.
Charlie Wi was poised to make the Tour Championship for the first time until he bogeyed the last two holes for a 74. Wi needed only a par to finish in the top 30, but drove into the trees on the 18th and missed a 12-foot par putt.
The 30th and final spot went to Bo Van Pelt.
Matt Nelson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.