A final round of the 2020 Travelers Championship that had nearly everything on Sunday finally spit out Dustin Johnson (-19) as its champion even though D.J. -- at different points in Round 4 -- hit a ball out of bounds and played one with his socks and shoes removed while standing in the water. And that was just what happened over the last six holes of the tournament as he went on to win by one stroke over Kevin Streelman after posting a 3-under 67.
After the Players Championship was canceled at the beginning of March, we didn't see D.J. for over two months. When we finally saw him play golf again, he looked like a guy who had just been introduced to the game. Playing alongside Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in a charity event at Seminole Golf Club, the term "rust" doesn't begin to describe how D.J. was playing.
That carried over into his first official event back a few weeks later at the Charles Schwab Challenge where he missed the cut after shooting 71-71. Last week was a little bit better as he clawed his way toward the top of the leaderboard on the weekend at Harbour Town.
Even the Travelers Championship started out rough for Johnson, who opened the event T79 despite a first-round 69 as the entire field went low. Nobody plays their way out of a slump like D.J., though; his victory on Sunday came after starting in the lowest-round position for an event winner on the PGA Tour since 1983.
Rather than getting wrapped up in his own head about a mediocre last 15 months (just two top 10s since last year's PGA Championship), D.J. just kept doing D.J. It resulted in his 21st career win on Sunday at TPC River Highlands.
The story of the final round is the story of the last year is the story of Johnson's career. Even when things go poorly -- like hitting a drive out of bounds on the 13th hole -- he puts it away and plays the next shot with nary a lingering thought. It's easy to tease him about, but it's also the genius of D.J. Combine that with maybe the biggest talent of the modern era, and you get 21 wins over the course of 12 years (and 13 straight seasons in which he's won).
Johnson didn't have his best stuff on Sunday, finishing 48th from tee to green, but he kept coming and kept coming, even as much of the leaderboard (including playing partner Brendon Todd, who shot 75) fell apart. A hot putter carried him at times. At others, he relied on the most dangerous driver in the world (like on the last hole when he pumped one to winning distance).
It's fitting that in between all of this -- right after Johnson finished off a par after hitting his second with his feet in the water on No. 15 -- there was a rain delay. I feel confident saying that nobody in the history of golf is more prepared to not care at all about a weather delay and not need a warm-up to finish off a win. Which is exactly what he did for the first time in 16 months. I bet we don't go another year-plus before Johnson gets No. 22. Grade: A
Will Gordon (T3): What a week for Gordon, who got into the tournament on a sponsor exemption and finished third on the week. That's a big deal because Gordon -- not a PGA Tour member -- has earned a spot into next week's Rocket Mortgage Classic with his top-10 finish (and doesn't have to burn the sponsor exemption he used to get him in). Also, it wouldn't have mattered anyway because he gets unlimited sponsor exemptions the rest of the season by earning special temporary membership. (Jordan Spieth did this back in 2013 before winning the John Deere Classic.) Given the circumstances after shooting a 71 on Saturday while playing in the final group with Phil Mickelson, his Sunday 64 was about as clutch as it gets. Grade: A
Brendon Todd (T11): Sunday was a tough look for somebody who had played so brilliantly for 54 holes. Todd, who entered the day 18 under on the week, shot a 5-over 75 and didn't make a single birdie on his last round. He had an opportunity to grab the inside track on the 2020 PGA Tour Player of the Year award, but all of that fell apart when he made an unbelievable triple bogey on the 12th hole on Sunday that included a shank out of the rough and six shots to reach the green. It's still been a good year for him, but Sunday will sting. Grade: B+
Rory McIlroy (T11): He played well throughout the week, but one statistical category is a bit alarming. Over the last three days of play, McIlroy lost strokes to the field on approach shots every day (five total). He made up for it (mostly) with a good driver, but this isn't the formula traditionally for McIlroy. He's one of the better iron players in the world (maybe the best iron player in the world), but he just gave himself no looks at all at TPC River Highlands. To finish in the top 15 despite that stat is impressive, but it's not a place McIlroy wants to (or should) be. Grade: B
Phil Mickelson (T24): The Lefty fade on the weekend (71-71), though a bummer, was predictable. For him to play at the level he played at over the first two rounds from tee to green is a massive ask, and he dropped to 54th in both Round 3 and Round 4 in strokes gained tee to green. Though he's incredibly optimistic about the future, I think to expect him to exist at the level he needs to exist at in terms of ball-striking for a week or two weeks in a row is a monstrous ask for a 50-year-old. Also -- we don't do it today -- but at some point we need to talk about the joggers he wore on Sunday. Grade: B
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