Thoughts of a Dustin Johnson runaway at the Tour Championship were dispelled on Saturday when he faltered late to fall back into a tie for the third-round lead with Kevin Chappell in Atlanta, Georgia.
Johnson, the hottest player in the game coming off a victory, squandered a chance to take a stranglehold on the tournament when he double-bogeyed the par-four 17th, compounding a poor drive by clipping a pine tree with his second shot.
He was on the wrong end of a three-shot swing as Chappell birdied the same hole from 10 feet.
Photo: Brett Davis, USA TODAY
US Open champion Johnson steadied the ship to birdie the par-five 18th for a one-under-par 69, his eighth consecutive round in the 60s, but one that left him ruing what might have been.
“This course is very difficult off the tee and I missed a couple of drives on the back nine and made a couple of bogeys and a bad double-bogey there on 17,” he said before accentuating the positives.
“I’m happy with my position. I felt like I played well today. A couple of loose drives and it’s easy to make bogeys around here ... so if I make a mistake I don’t let it bother me,” he added.
Chappell fired 68 to join Johnson at eight-under 202.
Johnson’s stumble let a bunch of players back into the hunt, with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (66) and the US’ Ryan Moore (66) two shots behind, and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (68) three back, despite a triple-bogey at the 14th.
Johnson, top seed in the FedEx Cup standings, will clinch the season-long points race and its US$10 million bonus if he wins the tournament.
However, Chappell, 15th in the standings, is unlikely to claim the FedEx Cup top prize even if he wins the tournament. He is a three-time runner-up on the PGA Tour this year.
“I was so proud of myself the way I hung in there... I was able to turn it around [with a chip-in birdie at the 12th],” said Chappell, who has just one bogey in 54 holes.
McIlroy, sixth in the points list, gave himself a crack at the US$10 million with three birdies in the final six holes.
“I knew D.J. [Johnson] was a few shots ahead of me and if there’s anyone I’m looking at this week, he’s the guy,” the former world No. 1 said. “I’m going to need something similar, if not better, tomorrow. I shot a good one and that’s all I could do today.”
South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel posted consecutive eagles, the second from 140 yards out at the par-four seventh, in carding 66 to vault within five shots of the lead.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first