DJ Extends his Lead…Can Anyone Catch Him?

Dustin Johnson did what he’s done in each of the last four tournaments he’s played on Sunday at the 2020 Tour Championship. D.J. played his way into the final pairing on the golf course entering Round 4, this time with a sweet little 64 that put distance between him and the rest of the field at East Lake Golf Club.
 
Johnson drove the ball wonderfully in Round 3, which was a massive script flip from the second round. He hit 11 of 14 fairways (nine more than he did Saturday) and finished second in strokes gained off the tee. It led to seven total birdies, a 64 and a runaway train that is not likely to be caught on Monday as the last event of the 2019-20 PGA Tour season comes to a close.
 
D.J. (-19) has never won at Tour Championship, but he’ll take a 5-stroke lead into Monday’s final round on Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele (who split the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup back in 2017). They will play with $15 million on the table (and possibly the Player of the Year award if we’re just looking at D.J. and J.T.).
 
Johnson will be tough to catch though. He’s lost to just two golfers in the last five weeks — Collin Morikawa at the PGA Championship and Jon Rahm in a playoff last week at the BMW Championship. With a five-stroke lead and only 18 holes left, it’s going to take a minor miracle for him to not end up champion.
 
However, if he is going to be caught — while it’s not likelyhe’s blown bigger leads before! — here’s who has a chance to do it on the final day of the 2019-20 PGA Tour season at East Lake.
 
T2. Justin Thomas (-14): Though he missed a 16-inch (!!) putt on Sunday in the third round, Thomas did putt it quite a bit better than he did in either of the first two days. He’ll need some help — whether that’s the luck of holing out a few times like he did on the front nine for eagle on Sunday — but he remains No. 1 in the field in strokes gained from tee to green. Another hot day with the putter, a few sloppy holes from D.J. on the front nine and it’s going to be game on for $15 million.
 


 
T2. Xander Schauffele (-14): If you take the pre-tournament strokes applied to this field out of it, Schauffele is leading this tournament. No surprise there, though, as he absolutely crushes at this golf course. He shot a 32 on the back nine and has been making everything he’s looking at on these greens (which does not necessarily bode well for Monday). Maybe the only way to beat D.J. is to throw a Thomas-Schauffele combo at him and hope for the best.
 
4. Jon Rahm (-13): Four of Rahm’s last five rounds have been spectacular. The outlier in the group was a 74 at this event in Round 2 on Saturday, but he bounced back with a 66 on Sunday by making birdie at each of the last two holes. He started last week’s final round trailing Johnson — the 54-hole leader — by three before running him down and beating him in a playoff. This is slightly bigger and will be more difficult to overcome, but Rahm is still alive for what would be his first FedEx Cup trophy.
 
5. Collin Morikawa (-12): Morikawa had the shot of the day on Sunday when he holed out from a fried egg in a bunker early. It propelled him to a 3-under 67, which at least gives him a chance at D.J. if something goes awry. The reality here for Morikawa (as well as the players below him) is that he will likely be playing for prize money on Monday as the difference between where he’s at and where he can feasibly get to (second place) is $2.5 million.
 


 
Life Changing Money Up For Grabs
 
There is a preposterous amount of money at stake at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club this week. When the PGA Tour bumped the postseason prize money up last year, it allocated $45 million of it to be distributed to the 30 players who made it to East Lake. First prize is $15 million, but everyone in the top eight gets at least $1 million and everyone in the top 20 gets over $500,000.
 
Like I said, a preposterous amount of money.
 
 
By Kyle Porter
 
This article originally appeared on CBSSports.com.

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