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Weekly Countdown: Johnson Destroys Field in Boston

Dustin Johnson put on a clinic at the TPC Boston and ran away with The Northern Trust Open over the weekend, finishing 30-under par and winning by 11 strokes over Harris English. Johnson broke a course record 254 and set a record by shooting 26-under par over the last 54 holes.

Johnson moved to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup Standings ahead of Justin Thomas and Webb Simpson and will be among the 70 players entered in the second playoff tournament this weekend at the BMW Championship. Johnson also became the third player in a month to become No. 1 in the world, jumping over previous World No.1’s Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm.

Tiger Woods finished with a final round 66 to finish in a tie for 58th. In 57th position in the FedEx Standings, Woods will play the next playoff event but will need a strong finish to qualify for The Tour Championship which invites only the top-30.

We break down The Northern Trust Open and the week that was in golf with our weekly 4-3-2-1.

“FORE” Questions from the Northern Trust Open

1. Okay, what was that?

An explosion. What Dustin Johnson did to the TPC at Boston was nothing short of incredible. He completely tore the course apart really starting with one of the best 11-hole stretches on Friday that you will ever see. He was -11 through 11 holes that day and actually had a 53 on his mind before parring out for a 60. His scorecard looked as if he was playing a miniature golf course. But his tremendous play didn’t stop there. He put together two more low rounds on the weekend of 64 and 63 to absolutely obliterate the field and dominate The Northern Trust.

The win moves Dustin Johnson atop the FedEx Cup Standings as he heads to Chicago next week and once again regained the world No. 1 ranking. Johnson began showing his great putting at the PGA Championship where he thrust himself into the lead after three rounds before the putter went cold on Sunday. It was re-ignited this week, though, in a huge way. Johnson has to like the way his game is rounding into form at the right time. After the final two tournaments of the playoffs he heads to Winged Foot for the U.S. Open.

2. Which do you prefer: Birdie Fest or Carnage?

I’ve always enjoyed a U.S. Open at Oakmont and Winged Foot over one at Erin Hills or Congressional, so I’m in the carnage camp. Honestly, what happened this weekend was ridiculous. I thought the PGA had The Memorial, WGC-St. Jude and the PGA Championship set up perfectly for tough conditions and rewarding good shots. Fairways were more narrow, rough was up, and players had to grind for pars and play exceptional to score birdies. Last week, a par felt like a bogey. It was that easy.

We’ve seen some record-low scoring totals since the restart, but what happened this week went to a whole new level. There was a 59 on Friday by Scottie Scheffler and very nearly more. Guys absolutely shredded a golf course given the softer conditions and light rough. The PGA Tour needs to get a hold of this issue. There needs to be stronger measures to make these courses more challenging. Seeing guys shoot 30-under par in a playoff event that is supposed to test the best in the world isn’t exactly, well, testing them. It also makes guys like us who want to become a PGA Professional feel like we’ll never get there having to shoot 30-under in a tournament to win. I’m still trying to shoot consecutive rounds under 80.

3. Okay, so who really is the Best Player in the World?

In case you haven’t noticed, every time you watch a tournament there’s a new No. 1. It’s changed hands five different times now in the last six tournaments. From Rory McIlroy to Jon Rahm to Justin Thomas and then back to Jon Rahm and now to Dustin Johnson. Collin Morikawa and Webb Simpson can also get in the action with a strong September. Remember the days when getting to No. 1 almost impossible? Tiger Woods held it for 281 straight weeks. Now guys can’t hold it for more than a week.

4. Is This the Changing of the Guard?

Absolutely. A stretch is becoming a trend here. Tiger Woods hasn’t competed down the stretch in a golf tournament in nearly a year now. Phil Mickelson is 50. Rory McIlroy has completely vanished from leaderboards. Brooks Koepka is nursing new injuries. And Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth have completely fallen off the map. With maybe the exception of Dustin Johnson who has found his game, these are the biggest names in golf and they’re clearly not the players they used to be. They’ve been replaced with the young guns like Morikawa, Matthew Wolff, Scottie Scheffler, and Cameron Champ along with “young veterans” Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Xander Schauffele.

Is this great for the game? I do think Wolff and Morikawa can carry this game back to where it was. I truly believe those two are the game’s best future because of their talent and contrasting styles. And Hovland will be in the picture soon, too. But it’s going to take time to get used, too. I do think Rory bounces back but I have my doubts about the rest of them. Tiger only plays part-time nowadays. Phil’s age puts him on borrowed time. Brooks’ injuries are beginning to concern me. And Jordan and Rickie just seem lost.

Three Foods for Thought

1. Webb Simpson is the new Matt Kuchar/Jim Furyk

There was once upon a time where Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk were on the front page of the leaderboard every single week. In fact, they achieved the nickname “The ATM Machine”. They weren’t long hitters nor were they flashy in any way. They just went about their business, put themselves in contention every week, and collected a big paycheck. There’d be a win here and there to go with it.

That perfectly describes Simpson right now. Furyk is on the Champions Tour and Kuchar is in his 40s, so it only makes sense to pass the torch to Simpson who is doing exactly what they used to do. Simpson has two wins already this year and now has 10 Top-12 finishes in his last 14 events. He also has 8 top-3s in the last year. Simpson is just 34 and already has a U.S. Open and Players Championship to his resume, but one could argue while he may be just on the outside looking in of being the best in the world, he is definitely the most consistent.

2. A Different World Indeed

Tiger Woods stated over the weekend that the energy is lacking in golf without the fans. “It’s a huge adjustment,” he said. Tiger said he misses the roars and it seems to have affected him somewhat on the course. They used to be such a huge part of his round. Every time he stepped on the course, he’d get those loud cheers and a following that made Arnie’s Army look like just a squadron.

Who would have thought Tiger would admit to this. At first you’d think he’d love not having people making noises during his swing or the crazy fan yelling wild things at him. But Tiger fed off the energy more than anyone else. He brings passion to the course and a lot of that passion is given to him from the fans. Not having them has made him look bored out there. And it’s going to be even weirder in a few months at Augusta where roars are the most common of any tournament in golf. When he steps on the first tee and is announced as the defending champion, applause will be replaced with birds chirping.

3. They should have “tried” to have an Open Championship

Listen, I get it. The virus is ravaging the world and The Open depends on overseas travel in order to work. But I still thought they could have made it happen. Very few coronavirus cases have broken out on Tour since the strict measures have been put into place and if quarantined the right way, players that wanted to make the trip to compete could have done so. President Trump even lifted the quarantine requirement for PGA players wanting to travel overseas to compete.

As an alternative, the R&A could have worked out a deal perhaps with the USGA to have The Open played for one year in America at a links style course, such as Shinnecock Hills, Bandon Dunes, Chambers Bay, or Kiawah Island. Then the USGA could hold a future U.S. Open in Great Britain. It just feels odd this year without one of mine and many other fans’ favorite major being played. And when you turn on television and are watching the Women having their British Open, it makes you wonder why can’t the men have theirs?

Two Picks for the BMW Championship

1. Dustin Johnson

I mean, why not? He just won by 11 shots. He’s putting lights out. He’s got more momentum than any player by far in the field. I don’t think he’ll tear the BMW apart like he did The Northern Trust, but with a smaller field, Dustin has a strong chance of heading into the Tour Championship way atop the standings.

2. Kevin Kisner

After a very slow start to the year, the former Georgia Bulldog has three top-4 finishes in his last six starts. He had a great week at TPC Boston after contending at The Wyndham the week before. Kisner isn’t one of the biggest hitters on Tour and isn’t among the most popular, but he is consistent and has the tools to win big events.

One Final Word

That was a Massacre.

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