It is fitting in a week when a fresh PGA Tour video game was released that Dustin Johnson played The Northern Trust like he was holding a controller rather than a golf club at TPC Boston. Every number is more preposterous than the one before it when you look at Johnson’s victory, but the only one that truly matters is that he shot a 30-under 254 over the first four rounds of this season’s playoffs and beat Harris English by 11 (!) strokes.
Johnson’s score was just one off the all-time PGA Tour scoring record of 253 set by Justin Thomas at the 2017 Sony Open, and his margin of victory was the largest in a PGA Tour event since 2006.
Those are not typos. D.J. beat the runner up at this event by 11 strokes. He beat the third-place finisher by 12. He beat those in eighth place by 15. He beat poor Patrick Rodgers, who made the weekend but finished last, by 37 strokes. And all of it may belie just how dominant he was all week.
Johnson popped early on Thursday as he went out in 30 before closing with a 37 on his back nine to what I suppose you might call a disappointing 67. Then he shot the most lackluster 60 in the history of professional golf when he made par at the last seven holes and failed to break into the 50s. The weekend was more of the same. A 64 on Saturday basically sealed the deal. Then he went out in 30 on the front nine on Sunday just for good measure before shutting it down with a 33 over the last 18 holes.
Here is a list of things D.J. accomplished this week at TPC Boston.
- Led the field in strokes gained on approach shots and from tee to green
- Made only three bogeys all week
- Gained 23.5 strokes, most by anyone since the 2016 Open
- Became the first player since 2006 to win by 11 or more
- Tied Jordan Spieth for the second-best score-to-par number of 30 under since 1950
- Shot 18 under on the front nine on the course (only one other player was better overall for the week)
- Became the second golfer to win five FedEx Cup Playoffs events (Rory McIlroy)
- Became the 30th golfer to win 22 or more times on the PGA Tour
There are myriad takeaways from Johnson’s dominant showing, but here are the two most prominent.
First, this is somebody who shot consecutive rounds of 80-80-78 five weeks ago. Three straight rounds of 78 or higher! And he goes 254 in the first round of the playoffs?! It’s a testament to D.J.’s greatest weapon, which his ability — for better or worse — to not let anything linger in his head.
The second is that we didn’t need a 11-stroke Dustin Johnson win in the middle of 2020 to tell us what we already knew: He’s one of the great talents to ever play this sport. Only major wins can change his legacy at this point. However, we do tend to underrate some of his victories (and often all victories outside of major championships). D.J. took the 125 best golfers on the best tour in the world and decimated them all week. There is plenty of other evidence of his superpowers (namely, the U.S. Open at Oakmont), but this is certainly one great example.
Now he heads to Olympia Fields as the No. 1 player in the world (again) and the leader in the FedEx Cup standings. He’ll try and accomplish basically the only non-major championship feat he has yet to achieve and win the FedEx Cup and $15 million here in two weeks’ time. If his game is half as good as it was at TPC Boston, that’s almost certainly going to happen. Grade: A++
Here are the rest of our grades for The Northern Trust.
Daniel Berger (3rd): Don’t look now, Daniel Berger has been one of the five best players on the PGA Tour since the restart in early June. Here’s a look at his finishes since then: 1st, T3, MC, T2, T13, 3rd. There are just no holes in his game right now, and when he does struggle in one area statistically, he makes up for it somewhere else. He’s a fun dark horse pick to win the FedEx Cup with several bigger names with shorter odds ahead of him going into the last eight rounds of the season. Grade: A
Rickie Fowler (T49): Fowler needed a big performance this week to move on to the next FedEx Cup Playoffs event, but he didn’t get it. Fowler shot 7 under this week, but hit the ball poorly and was only buoyed by some sharp work around the greens. Normally a staple in the final 30 at East Lake, he’ll sit out the next two weeks as a disappointing season for him comes to a close. Grade: C
Rory McIlroy (T65): McIlroy may not have done much on the golf course, but he did win the presser on Sunday after his final round. Following a witty response about the difference between a triple and birdie, he discussed why his game and his vibe are a little askew at the moment.
“Yeah, this is going to sound really bad, but I feel like the last few weeks, I’ve just been going through the motions,” said McIlroy. “I want to get an intensity and some sort of fire, but I just haven’t been able to. And look, that’s partly to do with the atmosphere and partly to do with how I’m playing. I’m not inspiring myself and I’m trying to get inspiration from outside sources to get something going.”
It’s difficult to envision how that switch will be flipped at any point over the next month leading into the U.S. Open, although if somebody can find something going into Olympia Fields next week, Rory is in the small handful of folks who can do it. Grade: C-
Phil Mickelson (MC) — For the first time in FedEx Cup Playoffs history, Lefty will not be in the final 70 playing the penultimate event trying to make it to the Tour Championship. After a bad 74 in Round 1, his second-round 68 wasn’t enough to get him to the weekend and keep his chances alive. Mickelson will be teeing it up next week, but it will be at PGA Tour Champions event instead of at Olympia Fields at the BMW Championship. We will likely see him again either in three weeks at the Safeway Open or four weeks at the U.S. Open, into which he got a late exemption. Grade: F
CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with the latest scores, updates and highlights below. Check out a more detailed leaderboard.